The Essential Chatbot Terminology for Beginners

5 min read
Aug 24, 2020
Books and chatbots on a black and yellow background

Do you know the feeling of reading something without knowing what the author is saying? That’s what I felt when I read an article about chatbot technology for the first time. It was full of this secret programming language that was out of reach for the average reader. As a newbie to chatbots, I had to Google every fifth word to translate the developer's talk into something more normal to get the gist of it.

If you feel the same while reading about chatbots, or talking about them with others, have a look at my list of essential chatbot terms. It should help you understand the basics of chatbot technology and let you read and talk about it with ease.

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A chatbot is software that imitates human-like conversations with users via websites and mobile messaging apps. Chatbots answer users’ questions and help them handle simple tasks without the help of a human.

Chatbot builder

A chatbot builder it’s a platform that allows you to build and launch chatbots with little or no coding.

Conversational channel

A channel is a place where a chatbot is launched and where users can interact with it. It could be a website, LiveChat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, Kik, etc.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the area of computer science that is sometimes described as machine intelligence. It allows chatbots to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, like decision-making, language translation, or speech recognition.

Natural language processing

Natural language processing (NLP) is a branch of AI that helps computers read, understand, and make sense of human language. It lets chatbots understand the context and meaning of a user’s message and react to it properly, even if the user makes a spelling mistake.

Apart from chatbots, NLP powers numerous apps and services, including Google Translate and Grammarly.

Machine learning

Machine learning (ML) is a branch of AI that allows chatbots to identify patterns in human language and learn from past conversations. Thanks to machine learning, properly programmed AI chatbots can improve over time without the help of a human.

Sentiment analysis

Sentiment analysis is a subfield of computer science that uses NLP and machine learning to measure the sentiment and tone of a text or spoken language.

Sentiment analysis can help a chatbot analyze user messages and identify whether the person's attitude towards certain products or services is negative, positive, or neutral.


API is the acronym for an application programming interface. It's a toolset that lets apps communicate with other services and enables developers to integrate new apps into existing software.

For example, when Facebook made its API public in 2016, chatbot makers could finally integrate their third-party solutions with Messenger.


Webhooks, also called web callbacks, are automated API responses. They retrieve information from chatbot conversations, like email addresses or telephone numbers, and pass them automatically to web services. For example, to your CRM or email marketing software and the other way around.

Software integration

Software integration is the process of two or more applications being connected. For example, with Messenger integration, you can connect ChatBot with Messenger or Slack with no coding.


Attributes can be described as packages including information (e.g., name, email, phone number) a chatbot collects while chatting with a user. Attributes help a chatbot personalize its responses.

Bot: What’s your name?
User: Anna.
Bot: Thanks! How can I help you, Anna?


Entities are keywords and phrases that are similar in meaning and that are crucial for your chatbot conversations. For example, the names of products and services you offer.

You can create your list of entities so that your chatbot can identify and retrieve them from user responses. Because of that, your chatbot can provide answers relevant to user input. For example, it can recommend an exact product that interests a customer.

User: I would like to order coffee.
Bot: What type of coffee would you like to have?

Chat widget

A chat widget is a ready-to-use, customizable chat window that is added to a website. A chat widget hosts your chatbot and enables users to converse with it.

Chat widget


In ChatBot, a Story is a scenario of a conversation that your chatbot has with users. To create a Story, you must use conversational elements like bot responses, user input, attributes, entities, etc.


A greeting is a short message that welcomes website users and encourages them to start a chat. It’s shown right above the minimized chat widget.

Chatbot greeting


Fallback is an error message that is triggered when the bot doesn’t recognize the user’s input.

I missed what you said. Could you repeat it?


Transfer is an action that redirects a chatbot user to a live chat agent. It can be triggered when the user’s problem exceeds the chatbot’s scope.

Transfer to a human agent

Cloning tool

It’s a feature that allows you to make a copy of an existing chatbot scenario. Cloning is helpful when you need to build a more complex chatbot story but you don’t want to start it from scratch.


Filters help your chatbot decide which response should be sent to users based on the context and the information the user provides.

For instance, your chatbot can ask a user if they are looking for a flat to buy or rent, and then display an offer relevant to their response.

Filters let you also show specific info to people who come to your website using a specific URL address. This comes in handy if you want to personalize your chatbot communication.

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Typing delay

The typing delay is a scrollbar that enables you to set up how fast your chatbot should respond to user input. It lets you create a more natural flow of conversation.

Quick reply

Quick replies are short chatbot messages that suggest q user possible options. They help users make their decision faster and improve the flow of the conversation.

Chatbot quick replies

Hungry for more information regarding chatbots? Visit the ChatBot Academy to learn more about chatbots and their value to businesses.