A chatbot is a conversational robot specifically programmed and designed to instantly answer its users’ questions. Chatbots can be used in various fields and can have many different roles such as helping customers find a product and buy it, searching information for customers, making appointments, etc.
When accurately built and taken care of, chatbots can be a real asset to businesses. By automating repetitive tasks, they free up employees’ time, allowing them to focus on higher value-added activities. They also make it easier for businesses to offer a more tailored service to their clients thus driving customer engagement and drastically improving customer relationship.
In order to help you build a chatbot which perfectly caters to your clients’ needs, we decided to write this article which will give you some of the best practices to adopt when creating or improving your bot.
Before even starting to build a chatbot, it is of key importance to clearly define your objective(s) as well as the role(s) of your future chatbot. As much as an inventor would not be able to build a machine without determining its purpose and imagining its mechanism first, you will not be able to create a coherent and high performance chatbot for your business without previously having mapped out your strategy. You thereby need to determine your chatbot’s main objectives in advance. Will it be specifically designed for lead generation or client support? Will it help customers find a product, buy it, find an information? Or will it allow your employees to take some leave and manage their schedules? As previously said, a chatbot can have multiple roles. It is up to you to define which specific roles you would like your chatbot to fulfil.
When building your chatbot, it is fundamental to keep in mind who will be using it. You will need to define your audience and then adjust your speech accordingly. Also, your chatbot should definitely reflect your brand’s values and image as a conversation with it could be one of the first interaction a client might have with your company. Therefore, your chatbot’s personality should match your brand image as well as your audience’s own personality. We would advise you not to make it too formal as it would create a gap between you and your customer. On the other hand, you should be careful not to make it too familiar either as your customer could feel like his requests are not taken seriously. The best way to make your chatbot user friendly is to parsimoniously use humour. Emojis, pictures and gifs are also a great way to keep the conversation interesting and natural. Of course, these advices may not be suitable for your brand. If you have a really luxurious brand, for example, humor may be un-called for and unprofessional, so always keep in mind that you have to match your brand identity over all.
Your chatbot’s first few messages are the first thing your customer will be seeing. They act as an invitation to strike up a conversation and to ask questions. It is therefore important to clearly and concisely present the role(s) of your chatbot so that customers can directly know if using it could be of any help for them. To easily do so you can use quick replies. Also, make sure there aren’t any typos nor grammatical or orthographical mistakes. There is no need for you however to hide the fact that your chatbot is not a real human being. In fact, it is great if your chatbot can have the option to redirect users with complex queries toward a livechat. That way, your customers will never feel stuck if your chatbot does not seem to be able to provide them with the information or help they need.
Always keep in mind that even though your chatbot can be extremely complex internally –because dealing with a lot of data–, it does not mean that your chatbot needs to be hard to use. In fact, the more your chatbot is user-friendly, the more customers like it. To do so, make sure your answers are short, to the point, and written with simple words. Users don’t want to have to scroll down and read pages of indications in order to find answers to their questions. To make it less dense, you can try to break the text into multiple parts, and add pictures and gifs when appropriate. Don’t forget to leave room for interaction with customers in between these bubbles by asking frequent questions. Last but not least, don’t hog the conversation nor drown them intoo much information. Make it easy for users to leave the conversation whenever they feel like it.
Quick replies are very easy to use and practical, but they are less flexible. We would recommend using quick replies at the beginning of your chatbot to show customers examples of requests they could send or questions they could ask. In this case, it is a fun and interactive way to present your chatbot’s role. However, it is best to add a button for users to be able to directly and freely type their queries. By using local and global NLP (Natural Language Processing), your chatbot should be able to understand users’ inputs and reply to them accordingly.
Sometimes, your chatbot will not be able to understand its users’ inputs, either because the question is too difficult or new to your chatbot, or because they typed in a query which does not match the purpose of your chatbot. Your chatbot will never be absolutely perfect which means there will always be room for improvement. This is the reason why it is crucial for your chatbot to keep learning new case scenarios, notably through Machine Learning, even once it is deployed on all your platforms. Moreover, one should always program a fallback answer for when the chatbot can’t seem to be able to properly meet the client’s needs. For example, the fallback answer can ask the user to clarify. If the chatbot still seems to be stuck, it is a good idea to then analyse the user’s input with global NLP to try and redirect the user toward related questions in quick answers.
When the conversation is about to end, make sure to ask users whether they still need help or not. If they still do, you can program your chatbot to either directly ask users what they need by using NLP, or to redirect them to the beginning of the conversation so that they can select the quick reply that best matches their new query. It can also be smart to program your chatbot for it to strike up another conversation later if the user somehow stopped answering but still has the tab opened. Another possibility to make sure that you can later on keep in touch with your chatbot’s users is to ask users for their email and to collect them in your CRM.
By always keeping track of how much your chatbot is used and for what purpose, you will be able to update and to improve it according to users’ wishes. Ideta’s software has built-in analytic tools which allows you to always keep an eye on your chatbot.
Last but not least, users will enjoy using your chatbot even more if its design is aesthetically pleasing and well representing your brand’s image. You can add an avatar, a logo, colours, backgrounds, etc. Also, make sure to check the way it shows on different devices like a computer, a phone, and a tablet, as it could not fit the screen the same from one device to another.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you are stuck or if you don't have time, hire a professional to do your chatbot for you! You can build your project with the insight of an expert to avoid mistakes that cost time and money. At Ideta, we have a dedicated team, here just to help you succeed.
With Ideta, you will be able to put in practice all these tips as the software has a plethora of functionalities from allowing you to use quick replies and fallbacks, to offering local or global NLP, to giving you a lot of freedom when it comes to your chatbot’s design. If you are interested in building a chatbot, make sure to check out our software and to contact our team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
-By Eléonore Laloux