business messaging blog
How to program a more effective chatbot
Scott Navratil

Chatbots are all the rage in the world of mobile marketing currently. Many see chatbots as the future of brand-customer interactions and many businesses are using chatbots to help automate their customer service efforts. But not all chatbots are created equally. In fact the rush to develop chatbots and keep up with other businesses has led to a flood of largely ineffective chatbots that are ineffective and more likely to frustrate customers than help them. If you want to create a chatbot for your business, take your time and consider the following tips to make sure yours helps instead of hurts.

Have a clear purpose behind your chatbot

Ask yourself why you’re developing a chatbot in the first place. If the answer is “because everyone else is doing it” or “because we don’t want to be left behind” then you’re going about it all wrong. You shouldn’t develop a chatbot just to have one. What do you want your chatbot to accomplish for your business? What do you want it to do for customers? How do you anticipate your customers interacting with your chatbot? What will your customers want from it? You can’t begin to develop an effective chatbot until you’ve answered these questions and have a clear objective for creating it.

Don’t ignore personality

Though accuracy and speed are the most important traits of a chatbot, according to consumers, you can’t completely ignore personality. Even though consumers know they are conversing with a bot and not a human, at a psychological level, they still want the bot to be pleasant like a human. A bot that’s too cold or detached, simply getting straight to business is going to put a bad taste in customers’ mouths even if it gets the job done. On the other hand, you don’t want to stress personality so much that you lose sight of the chatbot’s primary objective. Keep in mind that a too-human chatbot can be unsettling for users and can set up unrealistic expectations for it that will only lead to disappointment when it can’t deliver.

Make it conversational

To use a chatbot to it’s full potential, it needs to be an interactive experience. Texting and message platforms are interactive by nature. Consumers use it to exchange dialogue with people. Chatbots need to replicate that experience to some degree. As already established, they shouldn’t try to perfectly replicate human speech, but there needs to be give and take. If the human is doing all the work and the bot is always responding with short, to-the-point responses, it’s not much of a conversation. Your bot should be able to ask follow-up questions to get valuable information about the customer that it can use to better assist them.

Market your chatbot

Chatbots are relatively new and many consumers know little about them and won’t think to initiate a conversation with one. Many brands introduce their chatbot in the form of a pop-up on their website when a long pause in activity might indicate that a customer is stuck. Another good strategy is to create some kind of exclusive offer than requires the customer to initiate a conversation with the chatbot to get it. Once they’ve done it once, and had a positive experience, they’ll be more likely to go straight to the chatbot with a future issue or question.

Chantel Fullilove

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