Chatbots have been around for a while however, 2018 will see them push the limits of user interaction. Most large organisations already support some kind of bot to help users with signing in to websites, answering FAQ's, or providing real-time information, such as news and weather.
Does my organisation need a chatbot?
Setting the goals
It's critical that you understand exactly what the goals of the chat bot are. For example, implementing a chatbot to resolve low-level queries within a contact center could justify the costs if there is added value such as, helping to reduce headcount, speeding up resolution times or improving service level agreements.
How do I build a bot?
Design the flow
You should consider how the user will respond. Will they select predefined options, interact via the keyboard, will they use speech or emoji's.
Deciding how the user will respond will help you design the questions within the flow. Remember, the conversation needs to be fluid, the bot should mimic the conversation of a human or as best it can.
Start small and evolve...
Building bots takes time and requires feedback from the community. Start off with simple commands, keep the user engaged and provide them with data that is not only relevant but forces them in to a decision. Measure the download and open rates of the bot, see where you need to make improvements and then scale.
Content is key
If your chatbot's aim is to provide customers with information about a product, simply listing the product info might not be enough. It needs to grab the attention of the user, ask them questions, have them engage and force the user to respond. Interacting with the user and providing rich content will leave them wanting to interact with the bot again and again.
The use of API's within chatbot's allows the bots to think outside the box. For example, a user engages with a bot and wants to know more information about a particular product. The bot presents the user with a web-hook that it found by searching a specific website linked to the product via a Google API. The user can swipe or select the link and this opens up an external web page that lists more info about the particular product or service.
There are several risks when implementing a chatbot. If the conversation flow stalls or the user is not stimulated by the content this can result in conversion loss. The key is finding the balance of providing content that is relevant and keeps the consumer hooked whilst not waffling on and boring the user.
You only get one shot!
If a user has a poor experience first time round, its unlikely they will want to use the service again. Would you go back to the same store that provided you with a poor service? - probably not.
"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do" - B.F Skinner
The good bots
In my experience there are a few chatbots that got it right, I now use these bots daily.
Firstly, Poncho - its a weather bot that presents you with local weather forecast. What's great is the chatbot has been characterised and has a personality. It asks you questions and wants you to engage. Its accurate and quick, it just works.
Secondly, Quartz - these guys present news items in bite-size chunks, if you want to know more about a particular article then simply select one of the related emoji's else you can skip an item and move on to the next. Webhooks link directly to news pages and provide added content should you wish to know more about a particular item.
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