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What is Natural Language Processing (NLP) & Why Chatbots Need it?

3 min read

What is Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Why do Chatbots Need it?

What is Natural Language Processing (NLP)?

According to Wikipedia, “Natural Language Processing, also known as NLP, is an area of computer science and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages, in particular how to program computers to fruitfully process large amounts of natural language data.”

In lamens terms, Natural Language Processing (NLP) is concerned with how technology can meaningfully interpret and act on human language inputs. NLP allows technology such as Amazon’s Alexa to understand what you’re saying and how to react to it. Without NLP, AI that requires language inputs is relatively useless.

The Amazon Alexa uses Natural Language Processing, also known as NLP, to interpret and understand your responses.

Why do Chatbots Need Natural Language Processing (NLP)?

Like the previous example with Amazon’s Alexa, chatbots would be able to provide little to no value without Natural Language Processing (NLP). Natural Language Processing is what allows chatbots to understand your messages and respond appropriately. When you send a message with “Hello”, it is the NLP that lets the chatbot know that you’ve posted a standard greeting, which in turn allows the chatbot to leverage its AI capabilities to come up with a fitting response. In this case, the chatbot will likely respond with a return greeting.

Without Natural Language Processing, a chatbot can’t meaningfully differentiate between the responses “Hello” and “Goodbye”. To a chatbot without NLP, “Hello” and “Goodbye” will both be nothing more than text-based user inputs. Natural Language Processing (NLP) helps provide context and meaning to text-based user inputs so that AI can come up with the best response.

This is what a chatbot without Natural Language Processing, also known as NLP, feels like.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) can Overcome Natural Communication Barriers

The same problems that plague our day-to-day communication with other humans via text can, and likely will, impact our interactions with chatbots. Examples of these issues include spelling and grammatical errors and poor language use in general. Advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities can identify spelling and grammatical errors and allow the chatbot to interpret your intended message despite the mistakes.

The Relay Chatbots using Natural Language Processing, also known as NLP, to properly respond to a greeting littered with grammatical errors.

Advanced NLP can even understand the intent of your messages. For example, are you asking a question or making a statement. While this may seem trivial, it can have a profound impact on a chatbot’s ability to carry on a successful conversation with a user.

One of the most significant challenges when it comes to chatbots is the fact that users have a blank palette regarding what they can say to the chatbot. While you can try to predict what users will and will not say, there are bound to be conversations that you would never imagine in your wildest dreams.

While Natural Language Processing (NLP) certainly can’t work miracles and ensure a chatbot appropriately responds to every message, it is powerful enough to make-or-break a chatbot’s success. Don’t underestimate this critical and often overlooked aspect of chatbots.

So what’s next?

The Relay Chatbots have advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities that will not only wow your customers but greatly improve your team’s ability to provide a superior customer service or support experience.

We would love to give you a demo to show you how powerful our native chatbots are when combined with the Relay intelligent support platform. Schedule a demo, and we’ll help you transform your support and service operations.

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