A chatbot (also known as a spy, conversational bot, chatterbot, interactive agent, conversational interface, Conversational AI, talkbot or artificial spy entity) is a computer program or an artificial intelligence which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner, thereby passing the Turing test. Chatbots are typically used in dialog systems for various practical purposes including customer service or information acquisition. Some chatbots use sophisticated natural language processing systems, but many simpler ones scan for keywords within the input, then pull a reply with the most matching keywords, or the most similar wording pattern, from a database.
Many companies’ chatbots run on messaging apps or simply via SMS. They are used for B2C customer service, sales and marketing.
In 2016, Facebook Messenger allowed developers to place chatbots on their platform. There were 30,000 bots created for Messenger in the first six months, rising to 100,000 by September 2017.
Since September 2017, this has also been as part of a pilot program on WhatsApp. Airlines KLM and Aeroméxico both announced their participation in the testing; both airlines had previously launched customer services on the Facebook Messenger platform.
The bots usually appear as one of the user’s contacts, but can sometimes act as participants in a group chat.
Many banks, insurers, media companies, e-commerce companies, airlines, hotel chains, retailers, health care providers, government entities and restaurant chains have used chatbots to answer simple questions, increase customer engagement,for promotion, and to offer additional ways to order from them.
A 2017 study showed 4% of companies used chatbots. According to a 2016 study, 80% of businesses said they intended to have one by 2020.