At their core, chat and search both enable businesses to provide answers to customers who are looking for information in an interactive way.
But they each excel in different areas — and they can best be used as compliments to each other. In fact, chat needs to rely on a search algorithm in order to find relevant, up-to-date information. This is why, for example, Bing's chatbot can answer questions about current events while ChatGPT only knows about the world up until 2021.
Search is better for browsing experiences. For example, you wouldn't want to use chat as the primary interface to your eCommerce site or your store locator. Those are visual browsing experiences, ideal for search.
Search makes it easier to merchandise/hard-code results based on business logic. This is quite difficult to do in chat — though not impossible.
Search can have UI widgets like facets, filters, sorting, and maps that help the user navigate content.
The user inherently expects chat to be a slower, more conversational experience. A longer anticipated response time means you can use bigger, more powerful models to generate more detailed answers.
Chat can take the history of the conversation into account. This means users can ask follow-up questions and dig deep into certain topics. (E.g. chat could help answer a customer's question about a return they made last month, or a purchase they inquired about previously.)
Chat is capable of synthesizing multiple search results to provide an answer. For example, someone could ask "What's the difference between the US Return Policy and the EU Return Policy?", and chat could tell them the answer by looking at two different documents.
Additionally, many digital experiences in the future are going to blur the line between search and chat, combining the best aspects of both. Many search engines like Bing are already announcing new features that combine search and chat into a single interface, allowing users to have a free-flowing conversation about search results.
At Yext, we've focused on search experiences for a long time, and you can see that through Yext Search. But conversational AI isn't only about search — and it's with that in mind that we've created Yext Chat, a new product that will empower organizations to create conversational experiences with cutting-edge AI.
We've written before that the "right" technology to focus on between search and chat is… both. That's truer than ever: there are massive benefits to each that businesses need to start incorporating into their strategy.
Businesses can't afford to lose any opportunities to drive engagement based on poor experiences, and it's important that they leverage AI to communicate with customers the way they want. (Here's a fun stat: 74% of users say they prefer chat while looking for answers to simple questions.)
With Yext, any business can immediately hit the ground running with out-of-the-box AI in Yext Chat, Yext Search, and various other aspects of our platform. We'll continue to innovate on our products as new and better language models emerge, but Yext Content will always give customers the freedom to use their content with any model they want, in any way they want, regardless of what lies ahead.
Ready to explore? Learn more about AI and the future of digital experiences with Yext's new virtual event series, and explore Yext Chat at yext.com/platform/chat.