4 Mins Read  March 2, 2017  Snehith Kumbla

Building Better Chatbots

The difficulty in building a chatbot is less a technical one and more an issue of user experience. The most successful bots will be the ones that users want to come back to regularly and that provide consistent value.” – Matt Hartman, Director of Seed Investments at Betaworks.

Chatbots are virtual assistants that respond to your customers’ queries, perform specific tasks via a chat interface. A chatbot with pre-set programming interacts and creates a human-like comfortability with the user.Chat-Bots

Powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), chatbots usually offer an entire range of services from booking movie tickets, online shopping, weather reports, personal finance advice, news, buying groceries, bill payments to fitness tracking…the list is endless. Chatbots are automated, easy, and fast – three preferred customer service qualities.

Growing Popularity

Nearly 80% companies are already using chatbots or plan to use them by the year 2020, as per Business Insider. About 42% of the survey participants believe that automation technology will enhance the customer experience in marketing and sales. A recent study as quoted by venturebeat.com states how 51% customers require a business to be available to queries, 24/7. About 45.8% consumers would prefer communicating through messaging rather than email. Over 49% would prefer using messaging rather than a phone to contact a business.

Chatbots are all set to take over the customer interaction segment for the following reasons:

  1. Chatbots enable a business to be of service to the customer 24/7.
  2. They are used in messaging apps like Skype, WeChat, Messenger, etc.
  3. No calling up, no time lost in pressing buttons, no holding the line. Chatbots keep it straight and simple.

Building Chatbots 

There are two types of bots you can have built. One can be built using a simple set of rules, the other uses an advanced version of machine learning and AI.

  1. The first type responds to a specific and limited list of commands. If you type the wrong command, it will respond with a message like: “I don’t know what you mean.”
  2. An advanced chatbot understands your language, not just mere commands. Equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI), this kind of chatbot gains more expertise while conversing with customers.

Check this link out for tips on building a chatbot.

Building Better Chatbots 

I don’t know anyone who likes calling a business. And no one wants to have to install a new app for every business or service that they interact with. We think you should be able to message a business, in the same way, you would message a friend.” — Mark Zuckerberg at F8, the Facebook Developer Conference in 2016.

Before you begin work on your chatbot, consider:

  1. What problem will your bot solve?
  2. On what platform, will your bot be set up?
  3. Setting up a server to run the bot.
  4. Selecting a service to build your bot.

Learn more about creating an interactive, highly efficient chatbot at this link. Moving on, let’s list down, for your consideration, the elements that add up in the making of a successful chatbot:

Human Interaction: Yes or No? 

AI and NLP based chatbots are certainly getting intelligent. Yet, there may be elements in your business process, where chatbots may not be the best option. Probably, better employee training instead of using chatbots could be a better alternative in certain instances. Meanwhile, many companies continue to make the most of the chatbots. Pizza Hut now accepts orders through its Twitter and Facebook chatbots. Pizza Hut can now make reordering and personalizing offers easy for its customers. Rival fast-food chain Domino’s subsequently followed up with its own chatbot.

Integration is the Key 

Customers prefer a chatbot to be a part of their messaging app. First, researching on popular messaging platforms (that target customers use) will prove useful. You can then setup your chatbot through these channels.

For instance, the American fast food chain Taco Bell found out that a high percentage of young professionals, Taco Bell’s target audience, used a messaging tool, Slack. Consequently, Taco Bell created a chatbot, enabling customers to place orders through Slack.

Automate Specific Tasks

Ask yourself: what business process will the chatbot simplify or enable? Automation saves a company time, money, and resources. Run through your business processes and check specific tasks that can be automated. The employees who were performing these duties now need to respond only when the chatbot has issues. For example, a prominent event management company saves $5 to $10 dollars for each person it had to invite for a charity event, by using chatbots.

Outsource Chatbot Creation 

Chatbot development is better done by companies specializing in chatbot creation. Look for companies that offer end-to-end development services. Check for in-house expertise in development and deployment.

Bot Analytics 

Bot analytics helps chatbot makers enhance human-bot conversations. Analytics help pinpoint impediments, finetune conversations, engage and retain the user.

For instance, let’s talk about coupon code finder PennyCat. If a user searches for a coupon of a specific store, PennyCat searches numerous coupon websites and makes all possible coupon codes available. The users also play a Q&A game. PennyCat made use of Botanalytics, a conversation analytics tool for interpreting user behavior. Conversations were filtered to find out which users liked getting coupons.

The chatbot owners realized that users wanted to save time and money on online shopping. Analytics revealed that users who liked searching for coupons did not play the game and continued searching for more coupons. On the other hand, people who began conversations to play games searched for discount coupons after finishing the game.

Responding to this behavior, ‘check discount’ option was provided to users finishing the game. Users who searched exclusively for discounts received new coupon search options, instead of a game playing offer. Consequently, PennyCat increased their average session length by a whopping 87%.

Inculcating Company Culture 

A chatbot mirrors the culture of your company. Ensure that the chatbot conveys the values and traits of your business during customer interactions. For example, Uber launched its chatbot within a popular messaging app. The user just needs to start a conversation with an Uber chatbot to book a ride. The chatbot will also provide status updates. It also allows the user to book a ride during their chat conversations. In many ways, the online transportation network mimicked their app. Uber thus made calculated, clever use of their chatbot, while retaining company and brand attributes.


Whether chatbots will take over every aspect of customer communication remains to be seen. They are certainly a new form of digital access, allowing users to gather information and make decisions. Chatbots bring in business opportunities through a user’s daily activities, they do make powerful tools if properly created.

(Select content sourced from chatbotsmagazine.com)

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