What’s a Chatbot… and Why Should We Care? [The AV Life Episode 69]


Chris Colleran, CTO of 42Chat recently joined Julius Moster, Master of Science student at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) for an episode of The AV Life.

A few interesting topics came out of this educational podcast:

  • Chatbots are revolutionizing the way we interact with data and machines. You will commonly hear about chatbots in conjunction with the term AI (artificial intelligence) but chatbots don’t always use AI.
  • NLP (natural language processing) is the subset of AI (artificial intelligence) that 42Chat uses. Of the different types of interactions 42Chat could design, we chose customer service because our founders had a lot of experience in this realm.

  • Chris developed his first chatbot for an event he was hosting. He knew his guests would have a lot of questions and he knew a chatbot could answer many of them. This lead to the design and development of a core chatbot 42Chat now offers, an EventBot.

  • Here’s how EventBots work: 42Chat integrates with an event registration system and the chatbot sends a welcome message to attendees via text (SMS) (or other messaging app) offering to answer their questions. Attendees get their questions answered by the chatbot and the event organizer can send additional notifications to attendees during and after the event.

  • Across all events, there are a core set of questions that make the journey easier for attendees. Some questions are less frequently asked but might be really important to some attendees.

  • Hiring a chatbot is similar to hiring an employee in that you train them to answer all of the questions your attendees might ask. They might even seem better than employees in some ways. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They don’t need breaks. They never arrive hungover or get sick. But given all of this, they are not meant to replace your event staff. Instead, when attendees use an EventBot to get their logistical questions answered, your event staff are freed to have more meaningful conversations with attendees that support your organization’s goals. For another perspective, read Startup’s article Lessons from Fabio: Why You Can’t Robotize your Customer Service

  • Chatbots can come across as human or as a machine. 42Chat prefers to let attendees know that their EventBots are not human, even though the conversation will feel very human-like. Chris shares a great story on the podcast about how in certain situations, people are more willing to ask a bot a question than a human employee.

  • Self-service EventBots and the ability to interact with web pages inside SMS are coming soon. Stay tuned!


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