Conversational agent: definition, utility


When we talk about conversational agents, the first tool that comes to mind is the chatbot. It is a software, a computer program that simulates a conversation with humans. Discussions led by the medium can be in the form of text or voice notes. More and more companies are turning to this tool to optimize their presence on the Internet. Merchants also refer to it by associating it with their instant messaging. In this article, we will shed some light on what a conversational agent is and what it can do.

Definition of a chatbot

To speak of a virtual conversational agent is to call upon the notion of chatbot. This is the best known form. So we need to start with the etymology of the word to better understand what it means.

Etymology of the word

Chatbot is an anglicism obtained by the contraction of two words: chat and bot. The first translates to “conversation, discussion in English” and the second is the contracted form of “robot”. Based on this etymology, remember that it is a robotic chat program. It works on the basis of an AI.

In plain English, the chat agent is the term used to designate a bot, an intelligent software. It is designed to discuss with Internet users. For a better simulation of the dialogue with the customer, companies often associate a human face to this type of application. The goal is to improve customer relationship management.


What is a conversational agent

A chatbot is an automated communication device. It works on the basis of natural and often written language. On a website, the tool can take the form of a virtual agent. On a mobile application or messaging system, the chat bot will be a real assistant to optimize the customer experience.

The solutions provided by the device are usually customized and based on the customer’s profile. On the other hand, it is always available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Conversational agent: the nuances

It is important to distinguish between an intelligent chat agent and a chat bot. The first one needs an artificial intelligence for its functioning contrary to the second one. The basic version of the chatbot is based on a series of questions and predefined solutions. In general, the model is based on a decision tree. However, to gain autonomy, it is recommended to prioritize the discussion bot based on an AI.

One variant of the chatbot is the voice chat agent. It is more commonly known as the voicebot. It is a speech recognition and synthesis system. The communication with the target is then done by voice. It is an automatic language processing that gives rise to the voicechat and the goal remains to inform and help the user. The voicechat can be integrated into a website or an Internet messaging application.

We can also talk about the callbot. This is a voice bot set up for the phone channel. It’s a booming innovation helped by AI technology.

How the chatbot works

The chat robot provides solutions to the various questions that users have. Your visitors will then have useful information about your company. Better yet, the discussion tool uses their emotions to make suggestions. For its implementation, we usually integrate quite sophisticated tools to the device. The goal is to make it an innovative and state-of-the-art tool to compete. Thus, the operation is done on a very strict basis.

First, the virtual assistant receives information stored in the database. The latter is analyzed to identify the user’s search intentions. Thus, the most relevant information is taken into account to provide solutions and answers to customers. As a solution, we usually hear predefined sentences.

Chatbot operation

Chatbots follow well-defined and automated rules and are based on the user’s intention. The first types of chatbots work with keywords embedded in the tool. They are designed to trigger a solution (predefined expressions) as soon as the keywords are entered. This is the basic form of use of chatbots.

When it comes to chatbots that work with search intent, natural language is the most popular. Natural language processing and machine learning are also associated with this. Here, the treatment is more personal and the customer experience is much more enriched.

Usefulness of the chatbot

There are several reasons to choose a virtual assistant for your company’s communication. Besides the fact that it allows the visitor to have a more complete user experience of your services, it is an undeniable time saver for the company.

Customer service, which is generally the bridge between visitor satisfaction and the achievement of the brand’s objectives, must be supported. Indeed, it is usually difficult to manage a large number of visitors with pressing demands in a short period of time. Moreover, for large companies, this is very complex. The implementation of a virtual assistance solution makes it possible to delegate part of the customer support tasks. It will then gain in efficiency since it will only intervene on specific cases.

The chatbot has the advantage of working every day and at all hours. Thanks to it, the needs of the prospects will be satisfied in real time.

Beyond customer support, chatbots have now proven their efficiency in many fields. Thus, they are devices that fit perfectly with inbound marketing in business. Subtly slipping a promotional offer into a chatbot, clearly increases your chances of getting conversions in addition to sending a classic email for example.

The chatbot is also effective as an information medium to inform your prospects and customers about a new product or service. Online payments and purchases are also made easier with this virtual assistant.

Finally, the chat bot gives you the ability to follow up on a purchase decision with the prospect until the transaction is completed. This is very useful in the hotel industry in particular, where there are usually many cancellations following a decision to book a service.

Amandine Carpentier

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