6 Myths About Chatbots

In this article, we debunk the most common myths about chatbots, and set the record straight on these helpful little machines once and for all.

There are many ideas floating around about chatbots. On the one hand, chatbots are seen as intimidating and threatening: complex tools aiming to take our jobs—thanks in part to Hollywood and science fiction books. On the other, people think chatbots are all the same robotic tools that make customers uncomfortable.

In this article, we debunk the most common myths about chatbots and set the record straight on these helpful little machines once and for all.

Myth #1: The market isn’t ready


Actually, mass chatbot adoption has already begun. When Oracle surveyed 800 decision-makers in France, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the UK, 80 percent said they were already using or were planning to use a chatbot by 2020.

From the consumer side, according to Drift, more than a quarter of adult US customers are ready and willing to buy basic goods through a chatbot, and 13 percent have already done so.

Myth #2: You need a huge IT team to handle a chatbot


Some people are wary of installing chatbots because they don’t feel they have the technical knowledge or support. The truth is, chatbot tech is now at a stage where organizations can set up their bot without a huge amount of manpower. You just need to take the time to design great conversational experiences.

Myth #3: People are uncomfortable talking to chatbots


People don’t mind talking to chatbots as long as they know immediately that they are doing so—otherwise, the customer may feel misled. Modern bots should announce themselves and when a case requires human input, they also tell the customer that they will be handing them over to a human agent.

Not only are people comfortable talking to chatbots in these cases, but they’re oftentimes more open and honest with them as well. One study found people were more open with automated tools because machines don’t judge. It also helps that NLP and machine learning make conversations more natural.

Myth #4: All chatbots are the same


False. There’s a big difference between rules-based chatbots, which are powered by a series of defined rules, working their way through a conversation like a flowchart, and intelligent chatbots, which use AI and machine learning to understand the context and intent before formulating a response.

Many people have become frustrated in the past with rules-based chatbots that didn’t understand them, which led them to give up on the technology. However, intelligent chatbots offer a better customer experience.

Myth #5: Chatbots are new tech


Believe it or not, chatbots are actually 53 years old — starting with Joseph Weizenbaum's ELIZA. ELIZA was able to mimic a psychotherapist by matching user prompts with scripted responses and even passed the Turing Test for AI. She lacked, however, a framework for contextualizing events. A few years later, a new bot, Perry, simulated a paranoid schizophrenic, with a serious conversational strategy.

In 1995, chatbots began incorporating Natural Language Processing (NLP)withALICE. Adding NLP allowed for more complex conversation. ALICE's programming was open-sourced, which meant that other developers could incorporate her technology into their own chatbots, setting the foundation for IBM’s Watson, Siri, and Alexa

Myth #6: Chatbots will destroy jobs


It’s a common worry that chatbots are going to take our jobs and leave a portion of the workforce unemployed. In reality, chatbots work best with, and oftentimes require human input.

Chatbots are clever, and nowadays, they can even speak and understand natural language, thanks to advances in NLP. However, they’re programmed to handle simple, repetitive tasks. By taking over repetitive tasks, chatbots free up agent time for more complex cases.

Arun Mani, President of FreshWorks Europe, sees great potential for human-bot cooperation:

“I believe that in 2020, we’ll see greater interaction between bots and human customer service teams, with bots assisting human agents with pre-existing information, so that queries are handled seamlessly and to the customer’s satisfaction. This will also free-up significant time for agents, who will be able to focus on more complex customer service cases.”

The future of chatbots in the workplace is a future where chatbots and humans work together. No need to feel intimidated: chatbots are evolving and offer an excellent opportunity for companies.

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