7 Steps to Creating the Chatbot Experience Your Customers Want

Seven Steps to Creating the Chatbot Experience Your Customers Want

7 Steps to Creating the Chatbot Experience Your Customers Want

Lately, Boostability has been paying attention to all the Chatbot hype going around and asking questions like the ones addressed in our recent blog titled AI, Chatbots and Consumers: “Alexa, What Does This Mean For Business?” You might have noticed all the talk surrounding Chatbots yourself, or maybe you’ve just noticed more “friendly little helpers” popping up on various sites as you’ve been searching the web.

However, even with being aware of the increasing presence of Chatbots and understanding the implications Chatbots has for business, you might still be left asking “But how do I make my Chatbot?”. Let’s address that question and get a little more into the nitty-gritty of using Chatbots as part of your online marketing strategy. Here are 7 steps to creating the Chatbot experience your customers want.

1. Identify the goals of your Chatbot

Don’t just build a Chatbot to jump on a bandwagon, build a Chatbot with real problems in mind that a Chatbot function could help solve.

Think less from the position of what you want your Chatbot to do, and more from the position of why your customer would want a Chatbot, and what they would want that Chatbot to do.

The goals of your Chatbot will largely reflect the short-term conversion goals of your company. Are you trying to answer FAQs for your customer? Do you want your Chatbot to focus on informing your customers of new products or promotions? Are you trying to make a booking or purchasing option simpler for your customer?

Don’t start the design process before you’ve thought through these questions and defined clear goals. As Maruti Techlabs put it, “When the designer knows why the chatbot is being built, they are better placed to design the conversation with the chatbot.”

2. Take your pick: Are you a made-from-scratch kind of person or the cake-from-a-box type?

There are two kinds of approaches you can take when designing your own Chatbot. You can either code your Chatbot completely from the bottom up, or you can use a Bot-building platform.

Pros and Cons

The from-scratch version may require you to hire a developer and may take more time than you are initially willing to spend on your Chatbot feature. But, when you really have the technical know-how, developing your Bot from scratch will allow for more custom features and more flexibility in terms of making adjustments and creating in-depth conversation flow.

The pros to using a Bot platform are pretty obvious–no coding required, fast, simple, free or relatively cheap. If you aren’t a real technical person or don’t already have a technical team set up, this is probably your way to go. Be aware, however, that problems can arise however when trying to use a single interface for multiple channels (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Slack, etc.). Some Bot features are allowed on certain channels which won’t be allowed on other channels. These differences aren’t as easy to account for when using a platform as opposed to your own coding.

What platforms can you use to build your Chatbot?

In no particular order, here is a list of platforms that have a credible reputation:

For more platform options and an in-depth look at which platform is right for you, check out this article.

3. Get designing

It’s time to design your Bot! When designing the conversation it’s important to balance functionality and engagement.

Here are a few ways to do that:

Design a natural conversation flow.

You are going to have to think of all the possible ways a conversation could go. For example, people may start a conversation with all of the following: “hello”, “howdy”, “what’s up?”. You will need to account for these all as the signal for your Chatbot to respond with a “greeting message”. People will give unexpected responses, all of which you will have to account for as you design your conversation. Initially, make sure that all your conversation is leading somewhere other than talking in circles. For a more detailed how-to, read this.

Add quick reply options and buttons.

Yes or No buttons, or alternative choice buttons make for an easy and satisfying experience.

Give the user hints.

Keep the conversation focused and from becoming too open-ended with responses such as: “What type of room would you like to book? We offer single, double, and suite options, among others.”

Offer variety.

You don’t want every response to a user question to sound the same. Vary how you begin and end your sentences. Avoid your Bot sounding, well, robotic.

Don’t be afraid to give your Chatbot personality.

Don’t make your Bot rude, but also don’t avoid jokes altogether.

4. Back your Bot

Bots aren’t humans (obviously). There will be certain limitations to what your Chatbot can do, and as such, it is always a good idea to offer your audience the chance to speak with a human to keep a customer and avoid losing leads. Make this option obvious and frequently available!

5. Add the appropriate channels

Recently I trying out what kind of questions different bots could answer and was using the Chatfuel Bot to do so. I started chatting on the Chatfuel website, and a couple seconds later I got a new notification on my FB Messenger App; Chatfuel was talking with me there too! I didn’t know whether to be weirded out or amazed, but I went the amazed route in the end.

Chatbots are not only able to be used across multiple channels, you can also connect your conversations as well.

With many platforms, you can use their interface to design your conversation flow once, create a Bot and then link it to multiple channels in just a few clicks. Other platforms will only connect to Facebook messenger. Check out this article to learn more about using Facebook chatbots.

Whatever the case, and whichever main channel your target audience may be using, don’t leave your Bot as a forgotten little guy in the corner of your website. Instead, spread the opportunities for conversion and use your Bot wherever appropriate.

6. Test your ideas

After a few hours of designing, you may be holding your head high and thinking your Chatbot is flawless. And while it may be, it’s always a good idea to test something out before releasing it live. Before releasing an unfinished Bot to the world, you can make sure your bot is helping to solve a real customer need, is easy to use and see if there are any extra kinks you need to work out.

How to check your Bot

There are a few different ways to test your Bot, and depending on if/which platform you decided to use to make your Chatbot the testing features might be available on that platform. Chatfuel and itsalive.io definitely offer testing options.

Another option is to create a temporary Facebook page, link your Bot to that page and try it there. Of course be sure to delete the page afterward and link your Bot to your real page when you are ready.

A few things to check for:

1. Onboarding process

One thing you’ll want to check for right away is something called the “onboarding process.” This verifies that your Chatbot starts to engage the moment a user opens the Chatbot window on a channel. For example, on Facebook, a greeting screen and greeting text should appear the moment the user clicks on the Chatbot option. If it’s not clear to users what the initial purpose of the Chatbot is, you might want to create a “Get Started” option to help them on their way.

2. Correct links

Make sure that the links your Bot provides, well, work. Incorrect links or links that don’t lead to anything at all aren’t going to make for happy customers.

3. Broken text

Some channels have a text limit for each message from a bot. That means that you may have a longer answer broken into multiple message boxes. This appearance is unprofessional and frankly looks bad. You may need to shorten your Bot responses or provide options to “learn more”.

4. How your Bot responds to confusion

Many users will purposefully say funny or challenging things to a Chatbot to see how it responds. You’ll want to make sure there is some input in order for when your Bot doesn’t understand what a user wants. Something like, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t able to understand. Can you try asking that in a different way?” is a good basic thumbprint for a nice user experience.

7. Go live and keep learning

Once you’ve designed, tested, and fixed initial problems with your Bot there’s nothing left to do but go live. Of course, as you pay attention to your Bot data you’ll become more aware of what works and doesn’t work with your Bot. Don’t forget to frequently check out this data and take steps to improve. Here is a great resource about the best analytical tools for your Chatbot.

Hayley Burton
[email protected]

Hayley is currently a freelance writer, specializing in sustainability, social impact projects and online marketing. She has never met a writing assignment she couldn't write.