The chatbot evolution: from simple interactions to sentient-like conversations

Viber noa-bar-shay
Noa Bar Shay
Senior Partnerships Account Director at Rakuten Viber
The chatbot evolution: from simple interactions to sentient-like conversations

Viber Chatbots is one of the products available from Viber for Business solutions, a great tool to enhance customer support around-the-clock, provide product information, increase the number of leads and sales, and promote your brand. The possibilities are endless. 

Chatbots have greatly evolved during the last several years, from very basic interactions to having human-like conversations. Viber Chatbots allows developers to create a wide range of conversational experiences, which means a user can interact with a bot in many different ways, including asking questions, providing answers, and making decisions (e.g. what to order, what to do, etc.). For example, a chatbot can help a customer with a purchase, provide them with information about a product, and answer questions like "where to find it in the store", or "what size to choose". Chatbots can also help with post-purchase customer support, like managing warranties and returns.

Chatbots are a relatively new technology that is being used increasingly to communicate with people online. You can see them in a variety of roles, from education to entertainment. Since their creation, chatbots have revolutionized business-to-customer conversations by providing a quick and easy way for people to get the answers they need without human operators and long waiting time. As digital assistants become more and more commonplace, it's no surprise that chatbots are following suit. 

Let's look at the evolution of chatbots, how they've changed over the years, and how you can use Viber chatbots today.

How Chatbots Came to Be

Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human conversation. They are commonly used in online customer service to provide quick, automated responses to common questions. Chatbots can also be used for marketing, sales, and other customer engagement purposes.

The history of chatbots dates back to the early days of computing. One of the first chatbots was ELIZA. It is the first program of its kind and was created by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966. ELIZA was designed to mimic human conversation by using a script of pre-written responses. The program emulates a Rogerian psychotherapist and responds to questions and statements in natural language, and so can appear to hold conversations with users. ELIZA has been influential in developing artificial intelligence and natural language processing.

Some early chatbots after ELIZA were Jabberwacky, ALICE, and Ultra Hal. Jabberwacky started its way in 1981 and was one of the first chatbots to use natural language processing. ALICE was initially created in 1995 and was rewritten to Java in 1998. However, the bot is, to the day, unable to pass the Turing Test, which is the baseline for judging how realistic the conversational skills of a bot are. Ultra Hal was created as a personal assistant and could hold conversations with humans through speech synthesis.

The earliest chatbots could only respond to simple commands, such as "hello" or "what is your name?" Later, chatbots gained the ability to understand more complex questions and carry on a conversation. Over time they were upgraded to integrate with other services, such as weather, news, or maps.

Today, chatbots are getting even more sophisticated. AI chatbots can learn from past conversations and adjust their responses accordingly. This allows them to have more natural and realistic conversations with people. Today, chatbots are limited only by the imagination of those who create them and the AI training data.

Use Viber Chatbots to connect with your customers

As a business, you understand that staying ahead of the curve and using the latest technology is key to keeping your edge. Viber Chatbots are a type of conversational UI that allows users to communicate with brands through natural language, like in a conversation with a friend. As such, chatbots are a great way to provide customers with the information they need, when they need it, and in a format that is easy to access and read. They are perfect for providing FAQs, updates, and other information that your audience may need from a brand.

Get started with Viber Chatbots

Why one-on-one communication with customers is key

Natural customer conversations are essential for business because they help build rapport and trust. In fact, a study by Harvard Business School found that customers who have had a natural conversation with a company are 3.8 times more likely to make a purchase. Furthermore, customers who have had a genuine conversation with a company are 1.9 times more likely to recommend the company to others. 

Here are just a few advantages that Viber Chatbots can offer your business

24/7 availability: your customers can get in touch with you anytime, day or night, even when your customer service team is offline. This is especially helpful for businesses operating in different time zones or with customers in different parts of the world. This means that your customers can always get the help they need when they need it.

Personalized service: using data from your CRM or CDP systems, chatbots can provide a personalized experience for each customer. You can program them to offer tailored recommendations so that they answer product-related questions based on each customer's individual needs.

Cost-effective: Viber Chatbots can help you reduce your customer service costs by automating tasks that would otherwise need to be handled by human customer service agents. Chatbots can handle multiple chats at once. This means your customers don't have to wait in line for help. They can get the assistance they need right away without waiting for a human agent to become available.

Increased efficiency: Handle customer queries more efficiently by automating repetitive tasks such as customer service inquiries, order tracking, and appointment scheduling. This frees up your customer service team to focus on more complex issues, resulting in improved customer satisfaction.

Examples of the multiple services available on Viber Chatbots

Human + AI Chatbots = Enhanced Customer Service

Let’s look at how Viber Chatbots can be used in banks and retail.

For banks, it is a great way to offer customers 24/7 assistance and support, as well as to provide information and updates about products and services. Chatbots can be programmed to answer frequently asked questions, provide information about products and services, and even to make recommendations based on customer preferences and previous purchases. They’re a powerful tool to engage with your audience and increase loyalty and retention. 

If you run a retail business, you know the importance of first-class customer service. Because the experience a customer has with your company can often determine whether they come back, it’s essential to provide fast, efficient, and friendly assistance whenever possible. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to achieve in a world where customers are constantly on the go. That’s where Viber chatbots can help. By using chatbots you can be available even when your stores are closed. This can help increase the loyalty of your customers and improve your brand image. 

For e-commerce, Viber chatbots can help increase sales through upselling and cross-selling, and providing personalized recommendations, including showing products in 3D, and letting customers try on clothes or test a product before they buy it.

Enhanced customer experience with Viber Chatbots

Viber Chatbots have the potential to enhance your customer service in multiple ways, with one of the biggest advantages being their ability to provide a more personalized experience.

Some of the examples include:

  • Enhanced personalization – with Viber Chatbots, you can add more layers to your communication and provide users with customized offers and information
  • Providing a fast and convenient way for customers to get in touch with your business
  • Answering frequently asked questions, which can help save time and improve customer satisfaction
  • Can be used as part of customer service team training
  • Making your business more accessible to customers who have difficulty using a standard phone line, such as the elderly or people with learning difficulties

The bottom line is that chatbots can be an invaluable asset to your customer service team, but they won’t work if they are too complicated or are perceived as impersonal. The chatbot service provided by Viber lets you build your chatbot and integrate it with existing systems. The chatbot can be trained to respond to customer queries in a variety of ways. It can also be used to send automated messages to customers in response to specific events. Viber Chatbots can be programmed to send personalized messages at the right time, in the right channel, and with the perfect content. Learn more.

The Future of Chatbots, What to Expect

As artificial intelligence continues to evolve, so too do chatbots. What started as simple text-based chatbots have now become increasingly lifelike, able to hold conversations and simulate emotional responses. This ongoing development will only continue as chatbots become ever more realistic and sophisticated.

At Viber, we believe that the future of commerce and customer service is conversational. Viber Chatbots can offer businesses many advantages, including improving customer service efficiency, reducing costs, and freeing staff to work on creative tasks. 

If you'd like to know more about Viber products or how your brand can use the platform to engage consumers, our team is always happy to help.