Basic Chatbot vs Conversational AI: Evolving Technologies

We’ve all heard the term chatbot, but fewer have heard the term conversational AI. Chatbots are becoming an increasingly important part of any organization’s customer journey. Typically used for sales and support (often in retail environments), these chatbots are now being used across industries and departments—including HR. Though they sound similar and the terms are often used interchangeably, basic chatbots and conversational AI chatbots are not the same.

Basic Chatbot vs Conversational AI Chatbot

When we talk about chatbots, we are referring to a computer program designed to simulate conversation. Some amount of artificial intelligence is incorporated into each level of a chatbot but not all chatbots are created the same. There is a distinct difference between basic chatbots and conversational AI chatbots

What is a Basic Chatbot?

A basic chatbot is a basic computer program designed to interact with users via a chat interface. They can only lead users through specific, predetermined journeys.

Typically, a basic chatbot refers to a rule-based chatbot. These are sometimes referred to as flow-based, menu-based, script-based, or decision-tree chatbots in their most basic form. Basic chatbots cannot deviate from their pre-mapped plans and follow a rigid “if X, then Y” formula, often triggered by specific keywords. 

There is a secondary type of basic chatbot that adds a conversational aspect to customer interactions, referred to as AI chatbots (or sometimes query chatbots). The majority of basic chatbots on the market today would fall under this umbrella. This type of chatbot has a limited natural language understanding (NLU), eliminating the XY formula of the rule-based chatbots. Though they bear a resemblance to conversational AI chatbots with a limited artificial intelligence, they cannot truly be considered conversational AI.

What is a Conversational AI Chatbot?


As the name implies, a conversational AI chatbot provides a true conversational experience versus the transactional experience provided by a basic chatbot. These are artificial intelligence-driven chatbots, sometimes referred to as “virtual agents,” that have a much better understanding of language and intent, providing a more natural, user-friendly experience. 

Conversational AI chatbots don’t simply translate information from a preset database but self-improve over time and with more information. It helps to think of them as more dialogue-focused versus navigational. They include natural language processing (NLP), natural language understanding (NLU), machine learning, and deep learning. 

In summary, basic chatbots follow a set of rules and triggers, delivering information based on specific keywords with limited interpretation of information, while a conversational AI chatbot recognizes language, interprets meaning, and delivers information it already “knows” or locates within the backend systems and continually learns for the next interaction. Basic AI chatbots have some amount of natural language understanding and interpretation, but they don’t provide the same level of conversational interaction and features.

Conversational AI chatbots, like WorkLLama’s Sofi, can even help reduce time-to-interview and time-to-hire 

Improve Business Outcomes with Conversational AI

Why are chatbots so in demand, even in HR and contingent labor programs? In a time where candidate experience matters more than ever, HR and recruiting organizations need to provide a highly personalized candidate experience to stand out. Nearly half of candidates expressed they would turn down an offer if they had a bad candidate experience. Conversational AI can make that “always on” personalized candidate experience a reality. 

Digital natives, especially today’s in-demand talent, expect instant responses and seamless omni channel experiences—with a preference towards chat or text messaging versus voice or email. Without the use of chatbots, this isn’t a possibility. 

“Virtual agents” can meet those expectations, providing unique interactions throughout the candidate journey. They do more than simply providing a better candidate experience. Conversational AI chatbots can reduce front office efforts for recruiters, curators, and hiring managers— saving time and money. 

In addition to cutting operational and labor costs and creating better engagement and 24×7 availability, chatbots save companies money and boost revenue. Though the use of chatbots is more recent, research has shown that chatbots will save retailers $439 million annually by 2023, up from just $7 million in 2019. 

Conversational AI, which is continuing to grow in popularity, has a projected CAGR of about 18.9% from 2021 to 2030, with an expected valuation of over $30 billion. Gartner also predicted that more than 75% of HR inquiries will be initiated through conversational AI chatbots by 2023. 

Conversational AI chatbots are becoming more in demand than traditional chatbots. They provide all of the capabilities as their less intelligent predecessors and can do so much more, like:


  • Increased Efficiency. Conversational AI chatbots can gather data and input that data into the candidate profiles, so it is readily available to recruiters and hiring staff. This not only offers better candidate record management with the most accurate information in the profile, but it also makes the hiring process easier and more efficient


With conversational AI, certain processes can be completed directly in the chatbot conversation. This not only increases talent engagement, it ensures workflows can be completed quickly, speeding up important tasks like the application process, interview scheduling, skill assessments, onboarding, and future job recommendations. 


  • Improved Experience. While all chatbots can increase candidate engagement, conversational AI provides a true conversational experience. The natural language processing and understanding capabilities allow them to provide a superior experience that has earned them the name “virtual agent” 
  • Multiple Journeys. Unlike the more basic chatbots, conversational AI can facilitate multiple user journeys. To handle these, they are typically developed as individual chatbots with one bot controller. Combined with the data collection capabilities, conversational AI can provide powerful insights into candidate journeys that help to further improve experiences. This often leads to increased talent loyalty and referrals, which create a sustained source of high-quality talent at optimal cost and an increase in revenue
  • Talent engagement. Chatbots can include more than just inbound conversations and can be integrated into workflows to deliver outbound communications at pivotal points in the candidate journey. Their 24×7 availability provides an “always on” experience required to keep today’s talent engaged
  • Workload reduction. Today, recruiters have to work harder to fill openings, spreading themselves thin and limiting their ability to have meaningful interactions with candidates. Chatbots can reduce recruiter workload with the number of conversations they can handle quickly and efficiently. They can also be taught to alert human agents and pass the conversations off when necessary, so the candidate experience remains engaging

Sofi is True Conversational AI

WorkLLama’s Sofi provides real-time responses with natural language engagement, ensuring that your candidates receive an experience similar to chatting with a person as they move through your processes and engage with your brand. Your talent community will receive an always-on, highly personalized candidate experience they deserve—one that keeps them more engaged, leading to more placements and better overall candidate experiences that lead to higher redeployment and referrals.

What Makes Sofi Stand Out?

Sofi understands human resources—and humans. Sofi has advanced AI and can continuously learn from interactions to deliver seamless, personalized candidate experiences that keep candidates warmer longer. 

If the candidate needs help or is stuck at a certain point in the conversation, Sofi’s two-stage fallback corrects to continue the conversation. If unable to continue, Sofi will connect the user to a human agent for further assistance. Sofi can be deployed through any channel—web portal, text, app, or other digital outlets—providing a true omni channel experience.

Sofi keeps it seamless by instantly picking up the conversation where it was left off, regardless of which channel was used last. If you begin a conversation on the website, you can pick up the same conversation from exactly where you left off via text, on your mobile device, or in the app at a later time. Even more, Sofi can perform intelligent post-processing by extracting data to populate the respective fields in a candidate’s profile and/or trigger workflows for process automation.

Sofi can provide an inline hiring process, acting as an intake channel for candidates and referrals. Time-to-interview can take hours of a recruiter’s already limited time, and with 60% of candidates lost during this process, that time and effort can often feel wasted. Sofi allows for quick, frictionless intake of candidates reducing time-to-hire by 79%

Beyond the initial intake, Sofi can even provide automated re-engagement to ensure that the conversation is being followed through to completion. WorkLLama sees close to 70% conversation completion rates, whereas others see closer to 35%. 

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