Comparison Guide: The Pros and Cons of Chatbots vs Answer Engines

There are shared benefits to chatbots and Answer Engines - not only do they save time and money, but they are also available to respond to questions at any time of the day. 

While both have capabilities that exceed human representatives, one has the power to simplify and enhance the overall customer experience. In this blog, we will explore the differences between chatbots and Answer Engines, and what is best for the types of communication you intend to have with your customers.

What Is a Chatbot?

Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human conversation through text and voice. They are often installed by businesses to handle customer inquiries and provide answers to frequently asked questions. Chatbots are manually programmed to answer specific questions and needs to be updated with new information rather frequently. 

The Limitations of Chatbots

Technology has its limits, and chatbots are no exception. Chatbots are only as smart as the information humans provide for them. They can only respond to specific questions if you manually equip them with the relevant answers. 

Traditional rule-based chatbots are easy to program to handle simple requests, but they are unable to intuitively respond to inquiries and are incapable of accessing information that wasn’t  previously trained into their response system. 

Chatbots are usually programmed to understand a specific set of words and phrases, but unless they are also equipped with natural language processing, they cannot understand the varying degrees of human language and context. It is natural for people to ask the same question in several different ways. For example, someone might ask about a stadium’s ticket policy like this: "Hi, I was wondering if I can get a full refund for my ticket?" They can also ask the same question like this: "I cannot attend this game, can I get my money back?" 

A chatbot is only able to respond when someone asks a fixed question. The chatbot might recognize the word "refund," but it might not recognize the phrase "money back." This limits the level of customer support they can provide before human interaction is necessary. 

And though chatbots can be an inexpensive option, the lack of accessible information and accuracy of answers reduces the usefulness to the customer. Instead of having a system that saves you time and money, you run the risk of frustrating the customer and training them to default to a customer service number. 

What Is an Answer Engine?

Answer Engines power messaging apps, voice assistants, and chatbots to improve customer interactions through text and voice. Unlike the programming for a basic chatbot which focuses on either/or scenarios, Answer Engines are able to answer custom questions on-demand, providing the most relevant and accurate answers to customers within a single messaging channel. Answer Engines can be added into a traditional chatbot and messaging app to complement its strengths and make it more powerful.

Built of a Knowledge Management Platform and powered by artificial intelligence, the Answer Engine not only responds to an exponential number of questions, but it will learn over time when new questions and inquiries are submitted. Through machine learning, the Answer Engine teaches the system so your business can respond more effectively as your customer questions become more unique and complex.  

Take, for example, a recent update we made to our Knowledge Management Platform to help professional sports teams engage with their customers new demands. In the summer of 2019, fans began to ask questions about the trendy White Claw® Hard Seltzer drink. We were able to recognize the growing request and teach our Answer Engines to respond accordingly.

Answer Engines are different from chatbots in that they are much more intuitive. Unlike chatbots, which can only respond to basic questions, the biggest benefit of an Answer Engine is its ability to provide more specific answers to a larger array of questions. In order to achieve this, the information must be accessible.

To ensure that our Answer Engine provides specific responses, we compile answers first, not questions. To do this, our platform takes in a brand’s structured and unstructured data to create deep knowledge bases. This can include API feeds for event information, company spreadsheets, FAQ pages, and employee knowledge. By organizing brand data for conversational AI applications, the Answer Engine can access greater amounts of information and match responses to a larger set of questions.

By also layering on natural language processing, the Answer Engine can answer single intent ("Where is the bathroom?") and multi-intent questions ("Where do I pick up tickets for VIPs?") with the same ease.

With knowledge management, machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) the Answer Engine is equipped with on-demand information that can support communication with the customer without having to rely on a human response. 

As customer expectations increase and more complex communication channels emerge (voice assistants), thinking about the longevity of your chatbots should be considered. And with different artificial intelligence and machine learning options available, it's vital to know the benefits and limitations before deciding which is best for your goals. 

Ready to elevate your customer service strategy with an Answer Engine? Satisfi Labs can help you create a custom  AI-powered virtual assistants, an Answer Engine that can perform the best on-demand experience for your fans, visitors, or customers.. Let’s start the conversation