We live in a society where the first interaction that a user has with an organization is increasingly likely to be with a chatbot. Organizations have turned to chatbots for their ability to provide cost-effective and proactive customer support, as well as effective lead generation solutions. Yet, before a chatbot can be implemented, it is necessary to spend some time creating a chatbot workflow.
Creating a chatbot workflow is useful in two areas. First, it lays the foundation for the overall flow of customer interaction. When a customer asks a question, it needs to know how to respond. Second, organizations must account for the flow of information from the chatbot through the organization. This helps organizations to incorporate the use of the chatbot into the design or improvement of their business processes.
In this article, we explore what chatbots and workflows are, and how chatbots can be used to automate tedious processes. We will conclude by explaining how to create a chatbot workflow so that your organization can begin experiencing its many benefits.
What Are Chatbots?
Most of us have encountered a chatbot when visiting a website. The most common types of chatbots pop up on a user’s screen to offer assistance. Chatbots are computer programs that mimic human conversation to interact with users. They can be driven by rule-based structure or employ natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) to understand and respond to human language.
Organizations have increasingly turned to chatbots to reduce operational costs and to provide scalable, personalized, and proactive customer service solutions. Research suggests that users also appreciate communicating through chatbots. In fact, some 55% of customers prefer to communicate with businesses through a messenger.
What Is a Workflow?
A workflow is a way that work is completed within an organization. Workflows can be represented on a diagram as a series of steps that must be followed to complete a specified business process. When thinking of workflows, it helps to focus on the word “flow”. Imagine work “flowing” from one step to the next as stakeholders complete their assigned tasks.
Through workflow management, an organization identifies and improves its workflows to boost efficiency and productivity while reducing operational costs. One of the most common ways that organizations improve their workflows is through automation. Automation involves swapping out manual and time-consuming processes with scalable technological solutions. Chatbots are among those automation solutions that organizations use to improve their workflows.
Automating Workflows with Chatbots
Chatbots help organizations to reduce the amount of time associated with tedious and time-consuming tasks. For instance, tasks like lead generation and customer support require employees to spend most of their time fielding basic questions and gathering data. These are important but low-value functions in terms of generating revenue.
Simply put, by substituting chatbots for humans for functions like customer interactions, employees have more time to focus on tasks that boost revenue. Moreover, chatbots never call in sick, are available 24/7, and can be unbiased.
Creating a Chatbot Workflow
Before you can implement a chatbot into your processes, you need to spend some time creating a chatbot workflow. While chatbots utilize NLP and AI to learn human language over time, they need a foundation at the outset. Moreover, your organization must spend some time thinking about and planning your backend workflows. This ensures that data flows to the appropriate stakeholders and that your organization completes tasks efficiently while providing a high level of service.
Prior to implementing your chatbot complete these steps:
- Sketch out your chatbot workflow
- Create your chatbot workflow
- Create content and greetings
- Prepare for failure
Sketch Out your Chatbot Workflow
This initial step requires you to start thinking about the problem that you want to address, your goals, who your users are, and how a chatbot can help. For instance, suppose your employees spend most of their time responding to basic support requests like technical issues or questions about product features. Some goals could be to provide consistently good customer service, a low level of human intervention, and allowing employees to focus their time on other tasks.
User research is an important component of creating an effective chatbot workflow. Before you can implement a chatbot, you need to know who your users are, what they need, and the types of questions that they ask. Spend some time reviewing past interactions and talking with employees to identify patterns. For example, many users may contact your team to ask about a limited number of product features like price, weight, and functionality. By including answers to these questions in your chatbot workflow, you can potentially cut down on a large percentage of customer interactions.
Spend some time drawing some simple diagrams for workflow analysis. Identify the different ways that users can ask questions and arrive at answers. In addition, draw a diagram of how information and requests will flow through the organization. Consider questions like at what point may human interaction be required? And who are the stakeholders that will be involved?
Create your Chatbot Workflow
During this step, you will flush out your initial ideas from the first step. You will create a detailed chatbot workflow that accounts for all possible interactions. It helps to look at some examples of chatbot workflow diagrams to see how possible interactions are handled. Let’s look at a chatbot workflow diagram that IBM created to handle lost password inquiries.
Notice that the diagram accounts for several possibilities depending on the user’s responses. Through IBM’s chatbot, users can easily reset their passwords, allowing their customer service representatives to focus on other tasks. Yet, there are points in the workflow where the chatbot can no longer help the user. For instance, if a user responds that he or she does not want a temporary password they are instructed to contact the help desk.
When designing your workflow, it is necessary to consider those points where a chatbot may lose its functionality. This is also why it is important to consider the impact that your chatbot workflow has on your backend processes so that the appropriate stakeholder can step in to assist users.
Create Content and Greetings
Unlike humans, chatbots can be friendly and objective 100% of the time. They should greet customers warmly to make a positive first impression. In the first step, you spent some time researching your users. Now, consider how your typical user would like to be greeted and the types of questions that they may ask. Create answers that are helpful and consistent with the types of responses that human representatives would give to your users.
One of the biggest mistakes that organizations make when creating their chatbot workflows is casting too wide of a net. They try to create a bot that will solve all user issues and answer every conceivable question. Avoid doing this at the outset. Start small and gradually expand the scope of the chatbot’s functionality as your organization adjusts to the transition. Think of the IBM example above. That workflow is limited to resetting a lost password. Anything beyond that requires human assistance.
Prepare for Failure
Designing a chatbot workflow requires that you predict how interactions with customers will go. Like the chatbot, you are not perfect and there are bound to be instances where your bot fails to adequately address an issue. Going back to the IBM example above, there are several points where the user is directed to contact the helpdesk.
Prepare for these instances and craft responses that politely inform the user to contact customer support. As time goes on, you will learn the limitations of your bot and can improve your chatbot workflow to address these issues.
Use a No-Code Software to Make it Easier
With new advancements in low-code workflow automation software, creating a chatbot workflow has become significantly easier and faster. Low or no-code tools allow you to simply use the drag and drop system to create complex processes. Hence you can, test your chatbot workflow to identify potential issues at the outset prior to implementation.
In fact, some bot building tools come with workflow capabilities included. Check out this review of the top low-code chatbot platforms to gain an informed overview!
In a Nutshell
When you set out to create a chatbot, laying down a conversational workflow is a key component of quality assurance. It helps you visualize all the possible paths your customers will take and so minimize the chance for error and, consequently, friction.