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Five tips to build the best chatbot

A growing number of companies are discovering the benefits of chatbots. Unfortunately, there are also a number of pitfalls which may prevent your chatbot from providing an optimal experience. The tips in this article will help you create a successful chatbot.

Building a genuinely effective chatbot is not an easy thing to do. Although the technology may be easy, you must carefully think about the concept. There is nothing more frustrating than a chatbot that fails to help your customers. For example, by not understanding the question, or giving incomplete or irrelevant answers. These five tips will guide you on your way to building a bot that genuinely helps your customers. 

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is software that interacts with consumers through written language. Chatbots are often found on websites or messaging channels, including WhatsApp, connecting customers with companies 24/7. Bots vary from scripted to AI, and even voicebots, and act as virtual assistants that can chat and speak, all from the same database.

How to build a chatbot

1. Have a solid strategy in place

What are your plans for implementing a chatbot? A good starting point is the "why" question. Why do you want to start using a chatbot? What is the goal? Consider whether a chatbot is the right means to achieve your goals.  

Forrester's research shows many companies are deploying bot technology for the wrong reasons. These include companies wanting to go along with the hype, expecting fewer customer interactions, or replacing service staff with a bot. Not only does this fail to positively affect the bot's performance, but it also jeopardises the customer experience. Therefore, you need to make a good business case for a chatbot. Don't focus on one KPI, such as cost savings, but consider all aspects of customer contact. 

Think big, but start small. A chatbot is often part of a larger transformation. Based on the phase you are in as a company, decide how and what to automate. Start in an intelligent way, and scale up when possible. For example, start with a chatbot on your website and later expand it to different channels.  

2. Fuel your chatbot with data 

The "why" question is naturally followed by the "what" question. What can customers do with your chatbot? Or what questions can it answer?  

To perform, a chatbot requires input. The easiest variant is a scripted chatbot. You set up a flow yourself, which the customer follows. It's really a closed dialogue. The bot offers choices based on preset rules and the customer's input. Advanced bots offer more possibilities. You construct full open dialogues, which you can optimise based on performance with the help of AI technology. The AI bot not only learns from your input, but also from customer queries. Integrate the technology with your ERP, CRM or contact centre systems and databases to create a personalised experience. As a first step, you can enter the 100 most frequently asked questions and answers, or connect the bot to your customer data.  

An advanced AI bot, with sufficient data and the necessary functionalities, can do much more than just answer routine questions. A customer is genuinely being helped within the conversation. AI prevents the question from not being recognised, avoiding incomplete or irrelevant answers. Recognising the customer, verifying, handling transactions, and executing tasks: a competent chatbot can do it all. Think about a status update on your package, or delaying your payment.

To prevent disappointment, make it clear to your customer what your bot can and cannot do.

scripted chatbot  

3. Personalise conversations

But don't get too personal. For many people using messaging channels is still something they do with friends and family. You do want to talk in a similar way, but not too friendly. Choose the right tone of voice, appropriate for your company. Let the conversations flow naturally. Use brief, understandable sentences. When a customer contacts you, the most important thing is that they are helped in a way that is convenient for them. Straightforward language helps.

As a customer, you don't want to have to provide too much information. If you've given your name and email address, you expect the rest of your data to be known as well. To handle personal matters, more data may be needed. Make sure the chatbot can access the data and recognise and authenticate the customer. By integrating your systems, for example with your Customer Data Platform, your chatbot can access the full customer profile. This way, it knows more than just the name.  

Speaking of names, do you already have a name for your chatbot? This gives your bot an identity, making it more personal.  

4. Taking chatbot to live chat 

Sometimes a bot can't help your customers. Or customers simply don't want to talk to a chatbot. Ensure an easy and quick handover to or take over by an employee. Ask if your customer is being helped, or wants to be re-routed. For both the employee and the customer it is beneficial if the employee can see the conversation. With the right customer service tooling, you have insight into every conversation, and into the complete customer profile. This way, you know exactly how you can help the customer.  

Never compromise on the quality of customer contact. Give your customer multiple options to contact you. A bot is convenient, but human input is sometimes necessary for several urgent, emotional, or complex service questions. Chatbots are also used to reach out to a customer service representative. If a customer asks the bot about contact options, provide them with a complete list of possibilities. Consider the phone number, but be transparent about when and how you can best be reached. Do you only deploy your bot outside of business hours? Then tell your customers when they can speak to an employee.  

Combining bot and personal support from your service team will improve your service. Not only for your customer but also for your company.  

5. Learn and innovate 

A chatbot can constantly be improved. Review and analyse conversations to learn from them. Where does a customer get stuck? Is the bot giving the right answer in all cases? With the right insights, you can improve your conversations. Implement good reporting options. AI technologies present opportunities for improvement based on customer input.  

Dare to innovate. Think about the next step, to prepare for the future. How can customers reach you at the moment? Would a bot work via WhatsApp? Or perhaps as a voicebot, when customers call? Ask your customers for feedback. How would they like to interact with conversational AI solutions? You learn from feedback.  

Keep testing, keep learning.  

Offer personalised service with a chatbot

Automate in a safe and considered approach. Your chatbot can't do it alone. Human input and support are still needed to provide good service. By being transparent about what your customers can and cannot do with your bot, you avoid frustration. Continue to provide personalised, good service - whether via a bot or via your service team.  

Want to know more about intelligent chatbots that can genuinely help your customers? Contact us or read more about conversational AI.

Speak to an expert to discover how your business can offer personalised service with a chatbot.

Speak to an expert Chatbots

Speak to an expert to discover how your business can offer personalised service with a chatbot.

Speak to an expert Chatbots
Brechtje van Houtum
Brechtje van Houtum,
Content Marketer
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As a content marketer, Brechtje is responsible for all content about our SaaS products. Loves to be up-to-date about new technologies and believes in 'customer first'.

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