Companies are starting to implement chatbots – conversational interfaces – to power their business. Here are six key points to consider when planning your business's chatbot.
If there is one thing chatbots need to do consistently, it is to delight.
Anyone can now develop a simple chatbot. While most people build them for fun, companies are starting to implement conversational interfaces to power their business.
If you are one of these companies, or aim to be, this article is for you. I will teach you six key things that delight your audience using a business chatbot.
We will start with a solid plan, define an ultimate goal and identify the different milestones you should reach throughout the release of your chatbot.
Let's get started.
Key 1: Plan your approach
Chatbots are the next big thing. Every business in the world is wondering how a chatbot will help them grow fast, bigger, stronger.
Studies have shown consumers are eager, too. Nearly 35 percent say they want to see more businesses using chatbots.
Though this is all exciting, you should avoid moving forward without first developing a plan. What should you plan? There are many aspects to consider, but, for now, I would advise you to focus on usefulness: Why do you want to release a chatbot?
The answer to this question will dictate almost everything that comes afterward, from your chatbot's design to its KPIs. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why a chatbot?
- Will our chatbot replace something we already have, and, if so, will it make it better?
- Will our chatbot add a new experience for our customers?
Key 2: Define your chatbot's one true goal
Any marketer will tell you that your strategy needs one true goal.
This is true for your social media strategy, your email marketing strategy and your chatbot strategy.
Now you have defined why you want to release a chatbot. Next, you need to define its goal. There should be one reason and one reason only for your chatbot's existence: Only your company will know what that goal is.
Determining the goal of your chatbot will dictate a lot of the following steps. As you can imagine, a customer support chatbot in charge of reducing email inquiries is a different beast than a sales chatbot in charge of increasing revenue.
- What is our chatbot's ultimate goal? (e.g., to increase signups, to reduce form inquiry workload, to help customers 24/7, etc.).
- Is our goal quantifiable and measurable? If you are ready to do so, use SMART goals.
Key 3: Find the right platform (or provider)
There are two ways to create and release a chatbot.
The first is to develop it yourself. This could be done using one of the many do-it-yourself chatbot building platforms. Or, if you are a tech genius, by coding it from the ground up.
The other is to use a vendor – a company with the experience to build something that meets exactly what you need.
Both methods have their merits. The key here, though, is to find the approach that works for you. Ask yourself:
- Can our chatbot be off the shelf?
- Will we need custom integrations?
- Do we have someone technical enough on our team to build, maintain and fix it?
Key 4: Draft your chatbot's personality and UX
This topic could be an entire book in itself.
Chatbots bring a whole new aspect of branding and user experience to the table. With a chatbot, users no longer experience just design, colors and features. They now also experience language, conversation, humor and flow.
Deploying a chatbot (if done correctly) is almost like bringing something to life. You need to give it a personality and think about its conversational UX.
The easiest way to start mapping this out is to think of your brand. Think of the way you speak about your company, your product or services. Think about the way a typical conversation flows between your staff and one of your customers.
- What is our chatbot's audience? Are they young and cool or old and serious?
- How do we talk to our customers? Do we use familiar language or do we remain professional at all costs?
- How should our chatbot speak? Should it use emojis? Short or long sentences? Formal or informal?
Key 5: Start small and focused
Chatbots are exciting. When you start thinking of what they can help your business achieve, you may get carried away.
This key is simple: focus. It is important your chatbot starts small. Focus on that one true goal you defined above. Focus on achieving that and delighting your customers in the process.
You may be tempted to add one more feature to your chatbot. Unfortunately, this one new feature or addition can change the entire flow of your chatbot and introduce new (untracked) goals.
It is easier to start small and implement more features later than to try to build everything from the outset.
If you're considering adding features to your chatbot, ask yourself:
- Do we need this feature right now?
- Does this feature help our chatbot achieve the one true goal?
Key 6: Benchmarking, KPIs and data
The final key concerns data and measurement.
To ensure your efforts are not in vain, you need to measure the success of your chatbot. There are three steps to achieve this.
1. Benchmarking. In Key 1, we briefly talked about the process your chatbot will replace. For instance, your chatbot may replace your email marketing.
You will need to compare your chatbot's performance against something. Pick the process it is replacing, evaluate the current performance of the process and use this information to compare your chatbot against.
2. Pick your KPIs. You will compare your chatbot strategy against your email marketing strategy, great. Now, which data points are you going to compare, exactly? Open rate vs. open rate? Click-rate vs. click-rate? Retention after seven messages received?
You may pick a few KPIs to track here. Make sure you have a North Star metric that adds value to your business. Aside from that one metric, track at least four or five additional data points.
3. Data. All of this sounds great on paper, but you need to make sure you can track all of it in your chatbot. If you have decided to use the services of a chatbot provider, ask them to make the data you need to track your KPIs available. If, instead, you are pursuing the DIY route, check which data is provided, but be prepared to be limited to what data is available.
The future is bright for artificial intelligence-driven conversations between businesses like yours and their customers. A robust approach that is well planned and adopted early on will provide an upper hand against your competition.