If you among the majority of people who have engaged with digital assistants in the last few years, from live chat widgets to chatbots to voice assistants from Apple and Amazon, you definitely have formed strong opinions of this technology. Most people are very satisfied with their experiences interacting with voice systems like Alexa, and unhappy with everything else. Maybe you were forced to wait 45 minutes to reach a live chat agent, or you interacted with a “dumb” chatbot that never answered your questions, instead collecting your contact information and making you wait for a reply.

Luckily, not all experiences are the same, and not all chatbots are alike. A poor experience with an automated digital assistant likely means a low BotIQ® score. But what does that even mean, and how can you tell the difference?

While chatbots and other automated digital assistants have many things in common, they vary wildly in their BotIQ, which rates the intelligence level of a given chatbot. Most chatbots can only respond to a predefined list of questions, recognizing keywords and providing a static answer, or will provide limited guidance through button clicks, the same way a police officer directing traffic in a busy intersection will help route cars down the correct path. These chatbots are limited in their scope, and are essentially self-contained within set parameters. These are the bots that frustrate customers on a daily basis, because they cannot understand the intent of the question or cannot provide the correct answer.

As new generations emerge that are equally if not more comfortable interacting with machines, BotEQ must be supported and measurable in our conversational AI platforms

Bots higher on the BotIQ scale provide a more positive experience. They can understand what a user means to say, even if they don’t type a specific keyword or phrase. A smarter chatbot can connect dynamically to outside data sources, providing up-to-date responses to information that may change daily; think of restaurant recommendations, upcoming events, or even sports scores. Alexa and Siri would fall into the category of digital assistants high on the BotIQ scale.

BotEQ®, similarly, has a profound effect on a user’s experience interacting with a virtual assistant. Not only does the automated chatbot need to be able to provide the right information to the user, but it needs to be able to make the user feel. Those with high BotEQ can take on the voice and tone of the brand they are representing; serious or playful, sweet or snarky. Advanced chatbots can also understand the mood of the user and respond accordingly; if the user is reporting a problem or bad customer experience, the bot can offer sympathy language and use phrases that show a willingness to help.

So if you have had a bad experience with a digital assistant lately, look at what exactly caused it. Did the bot just not answer your questions? Did the bot seem to not care about your situation? BotIQ and BotEQ give companies and consumers insight into the sophistication of a given digital assistant, and will go a long way toward strengthening, or hurting, the brand it represents.