We’ve already told you about the most common mistakes people make when developing and deploying chatbots in their line of business. Now, it’s time for the best practices to consider when taking on such a task!
You could think it would just be a matter of taking our mistakes article and turning all the negatives into positives. For example, instead of having a chatbot with “no purpose,” the equivalent best practice would be to have one with a clear purpose. That much is obvious. But even then, there’s more to be said about these tips.
So without further ado, here are ours.
Top Best Practices for Successful Bot Creation
1. Take a User-centric Approach
The right chatbot might do wonders for your business and your employees. They can take a lot of work off your customer service team’s plate, qualify leads for your sales representatives, among other applications. But let’s not forget about who’s making the most use of your chatbots — your customers or website visitors.
Because of that, you should take a user-centric approach when implementing a chatbot strategy.
We’re the first ones to jump in on the fun chatbots wagon and preach about the endless possibilities they have to offer. It might be easy to get carried away and want to have a chatbot to solve all of your business and customers’ problems if you’re just starting. Despite that, a chatbot that doesn’t serve a clear purpose could be a liability.
For that reason, when developing your chatbot, you should aim to solve a specific problem. As a customer, can you imagine trying to find an answer for a problem, and the bot rambles on and on about useless topics? It’s far from ideal. You should put yourself in the customers’ shoes while developing your chatbot for the experience of interacting with it to be the best possible.
Additionally, taking a user-centric approach when you build a chatbot might mean meeting your customers at their preferred communication channels. That could be directly on your website, but it could also be via Messenger or WhatsApp if that’s what your users tend to choose to communicate with your business.
2. Follow (Written) Conversational Rules
We’ve just talked about user-centricity, and another important aspect of it is how your bot communicates with your customers. Even though a chatbot is not a human being, your customers are. So when developing your bot, you should focus on having it follow conversational rules and mimic the way humans interact through written messages.
There are a few conversational writing tips you can take into account:
- Write in short sentences: long and wordy sentences are often more challenging to understand, so to make for a better conversational experience, have your bot communicate that way.
- Choose easy words over complex ones: one of the last things you want as a customer is to resort to an online dictionary because the bot you’re interacting with uses an unknown word. Even if your product or service is complex, keep communication simple.
- Get to the point: thinking back at how chatbots work best when they’re meant to solve a specific problem, keep the conversation clear and concise instead of beating around the bush.
You can research and follow more conversational rules. Still, perhaps the easiest way to go around this is to stick to how you usually communicate with friends and family through messaging apps. This way, not only will it be easier to set up the rules for how your chatbot should interact with your customers, but it will also help figure out what other elements to include in the conversation.
In your day-to-day, you probably use emojis to add another level of meaning to your messages, or GIFs to replace text altogether in some cases. Visual elements here and there can make chatbot interactions that much more engaging.
3. Follow (Written) Conversational Rules
Speaking of emojis and GIFs, they can also be used to showcase your bot’s personality. Defining your chatbot’s personality and persona is crucial as they are extensions of your brand and, at times, the only point of contact between you and your website visitors. As such, you need to be sure they’re a faithful representation of your business, its values, and its mission.
There’s a lot to be said to this best practice, so here’s a round-up of what you absolutely can’t miss:
- Core personality: your chatbot’s core personality is made up of a few characterizing adjectives. Make sure to choose traits that are easily conveyed through written messages, such as friendliness or compassion.
- Language: the language your chatbot uses to interact with people should convey the personality you choose for it. You can achieve this through word choice (e.g., regionalisms or dialect) and tone of voice.
- Visual elements: as we’ve said before, your chatbot should aim to communicate as humans do with each other on messaging apps. Remember to include emojis in your bot’s speech or GIFs to complement specific messages like the welcome and goodbye ones.
- Pick a character and name it: though this is not mandatory, it makes it easier for people to relate to who they’re interacting with if they can put a name to it. You can also create a visual representation of your bot to help further showcase its personality.
Whatever you decide for your bot, the one thing you must take into consideration is that it matches your business and brand. Remember: your bot must function as an extension of your brand, so coherence is key here.
Let’s say you’re in the line of business of selling BTS merchandise. Your customers are mostly younger people with a knack for South Korean pop culture, so the language the bot uses and the way it presents itself should be relatable to these people. On the other hand, if you work in banking or insurance, you won’t want your bot to come across as too much.
It’s all about striking a balance and using your bot’s personality to drive the interaction and not be an obstacle in any way.
4. Make it Easy for a Human to Step in
Even though 43% of customers are already using chatbots for simple customer service requests — and 27% show an interest in doing so — the keyword here is simple.
While we know bots can be very good at their job, they have their limitations, and there are complex issues they just aren’t cut out to solve. That doesn’t mean they can’t help, though.
Chatbots are great at collecting information. They can serve as the first point of contact with the customer and collect relevant data such as their name, contact details, and problem by presenting them, for example, with standard options. Once that is done, the chatbot can hand over the interaction to a human who will provide an answer without the need for customers to repeat themselves.
Providing the option to contact a customer service representative is key to a successful chatbot strategy. Some users might resort to a chatbot, thinking they’ll be able to find a solution to whatever is bugging them quickly. But if they don’t, and there’s no one else there to help, it will turn into a terrible experience.
Nothing good ever came from unhappy customers, so keep their needs in mind when developing your chatbot, and offer them an easy way to connect with a human if that’s what’s best for them.
5. Keep Up with Your Bot
If you were sad to see the Kardashians go, don’t worry; there are many things you can still keep up with. One of them is your chatbot.
A lot of people think chatbot deployment is a one-time thing that doesn’t involve any more work after it’s live and in use. However, that is not the case.
As more and more customers interact with your bot, you’ll get valuable analytics to look into and see how your bot is performing. Is there a specific point in the conversation where they drop out of it? Is the bot providing enough information to solve users’ problems, or do they need support after the interaction? As time goes by, you should keep tweaking your bot to offer the very best experience.
And if you feel like analytics are not enough, why not ask users for feedback? Maybe some bot lines are falling flat, or some GIFs are perceived as too much. As far as possible, take users’ opinions into account and offer them a chatbot solution they’ll actually be happy to use.
Your Checklist for Success
We know chatbots have been on the rise for quite some time now, and they constantly come up as customer service or marketing trends for the following year. There’s nothing new there. The novelty, however, is the degree of adoption by businesses and companies from each year to the next.
Gartner predicts that by next year, 70% of customer interactions will involve chatbots, among other emerging technologies, which represents an increase of fifteen percent from 2018.
That’s a big number if you ask me. So if you haven’t already jumped aboard the chatbot train, now would be a good time to do it. Just make sure you follow these chatbot best practices, freshen up on your read of common mistakes to avoid, and you’ll be all set!