What are the types of chatbots?

The growth in chatbot technology has been as dynamic as the evolution of chatbot capabilities. For now, chatbots can be broadly categorized into three types. The three types are differentiated by their technical complexity, namely:

1. Simple chatbots,

2. Smart chatbots, and

3. Hybrid chatbots. 

Types of chatbots Types of chatbots

1. Simple chatbots

Simple chatbots have limited capabilities, and are usually called rule-based bots. They are task-specific. Think of them as IVRS on chat. This means the bot poses questions based on predetermined options and the customer can choose from the options until they get answers to their query. The chatbot will not make any inferences from its previous interactions. These chatbots are best suited for straightforward dialogues. They are very simple to build and train.


Example: Ordering Pizza

When a customer interacts with a chatbot to order pizza, the flow of the conversation is set. Just like an operator asks for your order over the phone, the chatbot will pose the questions in the same way. Starting from the size of the pizza, to the crust, toppings and amount of cheese. It will then request the address and payment method. The steps are logical and only requires the customer to click through to complete their order.

Types of chatbots Types of chatbots

2. Smart chatbots

AI-enabled smart chatbots are designed to simulate near-human interactions with customers. They can have free-flowing conversations and understand intent, language, and sentiment. These chatbots require programming to help it understand the context of interactions. They are much harder to implement and execute and need a lot of data to learn. 


Example: Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants are a modified version of smart chatbots. Siri, for instance, learns from every human interaction. It can also engage in small talk which is an added benefit of smart chatbots. While smart chatbots are trained to give the most relevant response with the help of an open domain resource, they learn best by collecting information in real-time. Note that companies are yet to build a bot to the extent to which virtual assistants work because it requires massive data. But theoretically, smart chatbots would work like virtual assistants within web apps. 

Smart chatbot Smart chatbot

3. Hybrid chatbots

They are a combination of simple and smart chatbots. Both simple and smart chatbots are extremes in the chatbot spectrum. There will constantly be a need for simple chatbots to be smarter and smart chatbots to be simpler. Hybrid chatbots meet that middle ground. Hybrid chatbots have some rule-based tasks, and they can understand intent and context. This makes them a balanced tool for businesses to interact with customers. 

Example: Medical Diagnosis

Chatbots that help with a medical diagnosis combine the capabilities of both simple and smart chatbots. Visitors will be able to voice their health-related questions and the bot can narrow down possible conditions by asking for symptoms in a rule-based format. Visitors will be able to go back and forth, choose different options and give more details until the bot narrows down on their condition and prescribes remedies for the same.

Smart chatbot Smart chatbot

Hybrid Chatbots are a combination of simple and smart chatbots

Hybrid Chatbots Hybrid Chatbots

So, the right chatbot for you is...

To know which type of chatbot works for you, ask yourself the questions below.
What will the chatbot be used for?

Chatbots can help with tasks as well as queries. If your business only has task-specific needs,  then a simple chatbot will do. If you have customer queries that are open-ended, there is a need for an AI chatbot. A hybrid chatbot, on the other hand, can be adjusted to fit your business needs. For example, an E-commerce store might need to set up rule-based options to collect information such as size, color, and type of clothing, as well as context-based questions like your return policy and order status. 

What is the role of your customer-facing teams and how will it evolve?

Your teams work on complex cases and most of their work requires product knowledge. If you have a team that spends time answering routine queries, then a chatbot is the best option for you. With FAQs taken care of, your teams can focus on customers with more pressing issues. Once the chatbots are in place, you can spend time training the bots.

Do you want to buy or build? 

Whether you buy or build a chatbot entirely depends on your company's needs. If you are looking to build a chatbot - you’ll require technical talent, massive data with billions of users, and complex use-cases that are not served by out-of-box technology that is ready to use.

On the other hand, if you want to buy a chatbot, you won't need to hire developers for this single use case. So it's better to look for a chatbot software that helps you automate processes that are a bottleneck for your teams. Typically, these chatbots can be used to generate leads, collect information, supply status updates or answer common customer queries. They don’t have any technical dependencies and can be deployed by the teams that interact with the customers. 

Can you improve your existing bot? 

There are two ways to approach this scenario. Chatbots are predominantly a two-part tool: The chat widget (The frontend) and the Team Inbox with in-built chatbot features (The backend). If you have either one and are looking for the other half, you can integrate with platforms like Freshdesk Messaging to improve the functionalities of your existing bot

Scenario 1: You already have the chat widget and need to build bot flows:

Integrate your existing chat widget with the Freshdesk Messaging Team Inbox. Team Inbox is the UI that your team uses in the backend to track and respond to conversations. 

Scenario 2: You have bot flows built but need a chat widget:

If you already have bot flows, say from a provider like IBM Watson, you can purchase a Freshdesk Messaging Widget as the frontend, and the Team Inbox as the backend to run the flows. In this scenario, you only need the interfaces, since you already have the bot flows in place. 


Now you know the types of chatbots. Here's what's next!

Go back to - What is a chatbot?