Conversational AI vs Chatbot


Artificial intelligence is now playing a central role in customer service. State-of-art technologies such as chatbots, conversational AI (CAL), or machine learning are constantly entering the market. But with all the buzzwords, few people know what exactly is behind them.

In particular, chatbots and conversational AI are increasingly used in the context of artificial intelligence and customer support and are often used interchangeably. There are two different things behind these two terms.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is usually a rule-based software platform designed to automate specific interactions with people. Since they are created for a particular purpose and follow a particular process, they are relatively easy to make.

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Nevertheless, it also means that the conversational AI chatbot can only provide answers or reactions to a predefined question or instruction. Therefore, its responses are known in advance, and the conversation possibilities are limited.

In practice, a chatbot will be more likely to give fixed answers to questions than to have an honest conversation with a person. Therefore, a chatbot is particularly suitable as a replacement or addition to the FAQ area and answers, questions about an order or the availability of customer support.

Conversational AI Features

CAI serves to automate human behavior both in processes or interactions and in decision-making. Too often, companies still see the use of artificial intelligence as something of a holy grail. What they don’t realize, however, is that CAI can offer significant benefits, especially as a low-cost entry-level model. AI is growing, evolving, getting better. Technologies such as natural language understanding benefit from integrated artificial intelligence. Therefore, companies are encouraged to view CAI as a constantly evolving product and to focus more on initial prototype development.

Critical features of conversational AI include:

  • Learning Systems. Supervised and semi-supervised learning solutions allow your customer service agents to view NL scores and provide feedback. Over time, these shapes AI to understand and adapt to your business’s uniqueness and unique needs.
  • Intuitive User Interfaces. AI utilizes a modern graphical user interface to enable non-programming users to understand and update the system.
  • Extensions. Extensions are fully interoperable dialog modules that provide out-of-the-box support for day-to-day needs without developing AI yourself.

These are just a few of the numerous features conversational AI offers companies. Numerous studies have shown that different companies have different requirements to their AI, and this is where their tremendous flexibility pays off. For example, not all companies need to communicate with customers in other languages. This feature is easily turned off.

Chatbot Features

The primary components of chatbots usually include:

  • Focus on keywords. Most chatbots don’t understand sentences. Instead, they look for specific words in user input and return the appropriate automatic response.
  • Rapid Deployment. Chatbots are easy to integrate into an existing system, which is beneficial when you need to build something quickly. Conversational AI offers a fundamentally different level of performance and functionality than chatbots. However, it takes time to refine AI responses using machine learning.
  • Customer Intents. Chatbots usually handle 100 to 200 customer intents with ease. In this context, the client’s intent describes what the client wants to communicate to the chatbot, usually through keywords.

Differences between CAI and traditional chatbot

Some will now be wondering what the difference is between regular chatbots and conversational AI. The answer is not straightforward because the distinction is not clear. Various vendors and experts draw the line, while others apply the terms interchangeably.

Conversational AI allows people to communicate with apps, websites, or devices in their language. Conversational AI goes far beyond just playing Q&A with a simple chatbot. While a chatbot is especially suited to text-based conversations, conversational AI works with text and speech.

One possible distinguishing feature is voice output. While, in theory, every bot could be equipped with a text-to-speech component, Alexa and Google Assistant are generally referred to as conversational AI rather than chatbots worldwide.

Conversational AI is a broader term that refers to AI-based technologies such as chatbots and virtual world assistants — the familiar Siri. Conversational AI clusters apply ready-made databases, neuro-linguistic programming, and machine learning to recognize the voice and other inputs and imitate human interaction, significantly simplifying dialogues, improving service, and providing current and after-sales services.

Another criterion is the degree of understanding of natural language. Conversational AI uses large amounts of data and is better at handling contextual statements. In addition, regular bots usually use ready-made responses and do not generate natural language responses. The result is more authentic dialogue — the more human, the better.

Final Thoughts

Conversational AI is still a chatbot at its core, but not every chatbot is considered a conversational AI. While many companies see it as just another type of chatbot, there’s more to it than that. Because CAI goes way beyond a regular chatbot and thus sets a new standard of customer experience.