Top 3 tips on how to build the perfect chatbot
A great chatbot is often a tailor made digital assistant, powered by A.I. that conducts conversations in one or multiple languages through audio or text. Chatbots can be used for various purposes, ranging from customer support to mental well-being assistance, to counselling services and internal HR-processes. The primary role of conversational chatbots is to support automation of processes by providing seamless and splendid user experiences for the target end user, whether it’s a customer, an employee, a union member or a patient.
Okay, maybe that was a small exaggeration - of course it is not always splendid experiences. Most people know the feeling of being approached by annoying or downright stupid chatbots that seem to waste more time than it actually saves. These chatbots are often badly designed. Maybe they are scoped too wide or too narrow, often they don’t intuitively support the follow-up questions that one expects during a conversation, or they might not even address the most important issues for the end users - thus creating bad experiences.
This blog will help you build awesome chatbots that reduce manual, repetitive work from your business AND at the same time, resonate with the users to give them a great service experience.
A quick disclaimer: This is not an out-the-box recipe for success. All chatbot projects are different, hence thorough research and a well executed design strategy is needed to create successful chatbots.
Tip 1: Understand the users and their business needs - by talking to them!
Here is a commonly seen mistake: B2B digital service companies tend to go out and talk to clients on a management level - but often neglect to talk with the end-users and the ground floor employees that are actually dealing with the end users. The middle managers often think they know a lot of the questions that the users might have, and therefore, it can feel like the easy solution to just implement a chatbot solution based on their inputs and perspectives. This might give you a chatbot that can deal with the most frequent customer request by providing the right answer, but the truth is that you have no idea if the chatbot provides answers that resonate with the users, relieves their actual pains, lives up to their aspirations and in general provides an awesome experience. You can only get to know these things if you go out and talk to the users. Our approach to do so is ethnographic research, where we use different qualitative methods such as interviews or workshops with end-users and the employees that usually meet them. Or observation of how the business process is currently working to understand what you are designing for. That could be listening to a call-team when they do customer support, or observing how visitors use the museum if you are to develop a museum chatbot-guide 😉.
Tip 2: Understand the client’s technology stack and how they play part in the user-journey
Software integrations are the enabler of awesome chatbots (that not said, that they can’t be awesome without them). If you can make the chatbot utilize the existing technologies that the client is using, then you can make life much easier for them and automate much more of the business process that the chatbot is supporting. Imagine a marketing chatbot that can automatically create leads in your CRM-system or even sign the user up for the product. Or an HR chatbot that can both reply to simple HR-questions, but also help the user create, update and resolve tickets in the HR-system. The possibilities are endless, but it takes a bit of both technical savviness and understanding of how and where in the user journey that the client is using the different softwares. A good tip for acquiring this information is to use blueprinting as an active research tool in the early chatbot development process, and initiate a discussion early about how the different softwares that the client is using can be accessed.
Tip 3: Build, test, adapt, repeat and repeat some more
When building a successful chatbot, you have to think of it as a product of the user-request. That is both the strength and the pain of conversation design: The user experience is defined 100% by the mere acceptance and satisfaction of the answers that the chatbot gives - or the lack of it. It is important to always analyze and measure the performance of the chatbots and adapt it accordingly. For the same reason, the first live stage shouldn’t be seen as going live with the final product. Instead it should be seen as a functional prototype that will help you improve the final product, as you learn from the users in real time and can analyze how they navigate the chatbot, what kind of questions and topics they ask for, along with their tone of voice and formulations when talking to the bot.
Like all great things in life, building a great chatbot takes time, patience, and an understanding of the problems it is meant to solve. It is an iterative process, which starts with identifying the problem, understanding the business needs, understanding the technology stack of the client and then testing. In the end, the more “human-like” a bot is the better customer experiences we can deliver.