Chatbots are ruling the realm of internet interactions like never before. Be it talking to your friends on Facebook or engaging in a lively IM conversation — chatbots are gaining more importance by the day.

We all know that maintaining a Chatbot and retaining its engagement factor is far harder than creating it. According to Botanalytics, over 40% of chatbots get disengaged after the initial conversation.

As a matter of fact, companies leverage thousands of bots each month, but only a few of them get noticed. To that end, Facebook Messenger is the biggest hub, nestling more than 11,000 bots.

In this article, we will cover three factors governing chatbots.

  • Creating a Great Chatbot
  • How to Maximise the Impact of your Chatbot?
  • Chatbot Making Tips for Small Business

Creating a Great Chatbot

Chatbots have the unique ability to engage in human-like conversations with real humans without the superficiality of robots or typical automated responses. Yes, they do entail automated responses, but can be made witty, smart, intuitive and helpful in the context of customer interaction. Furthermore, you can integrate chatbots with a wide range of commercial platforms in order to monetize your social media presence.

In the existing competitive landscape, all serious businesses, including entrepreneurs, leverage social media actively nowadays, and that is where chatbots can revolutionise the manner in which you engage with your audience.

Apart from imparting great monetization opportunities, they also allow you to retain a competitive edge over your peers because are relatively new.

Practical Benefits

Since the usage of messaging apps has easily eclipsed social media, chatbots represent a much more convenient way of reaching your audience.

Apart from enabling users and potential customers get their questions addressed quickly, accurately and friendlily though applications they use most frequently, bots impart the following benefits:

  • Increase lead generation
  • Boost sales by building effective brand awareness
  • Simplify the process of navigation for your buyer
  • Improved quality of customer experience
  • Easy content distribution through messaging apps
  • Ability to provide targeted content based on the users’ preferences and patterns
  • Integration with ecommerce platforms
  • Quick dissemination of information
  • Ability to interact smartly and intuitively and ask meaningful questions

Using tools, which is the best platform for entrepreneurs and large businesses to build chatbots without any programming knowledge, you can easily sign up and get started via your Facebook account.

When you’ve done that, you’re all set to begin making your own chatbot.

However, your aim is not to create a mediocre bot; always strive for more and set your sights on a functional bot that makes a difference to people’s lives. Follow these 10 tips to get the ball rolling.

Follow these 10 tips to get the ball rolling.

#1 Assess your needs:

Not all businesses can succeed using one single strategy — be it for their operational functions, product management or marketing. This is because every business is intrinsically unique and has something different to offer to their consumers.

Although chatbots are immensely useful for almost all businesses, they may not be what you need right now. It is important to examine your existing scenario take a call on whether or not you can do justice to the latent potential of chatbots. If you can’t, wait till the right time when you can use them to reap practical benefits.

#2 Narrow down your goals:

To do that, define your goals and expectations. Making a bot that does one thing with 100% finesse and precision is far better than one that does 4–5 things with 50% efficacy.

It’s not easy to resist the temptation of creating a well-rounded bot, but such a strategy could easily backfire because people are increasingly demanding quality and not quantity. Focus on 1–2 features that work well.

#3 Give it a distinct name:

Far too many developers are zealously busy making ‘the next big bot’ and the number of chatbots is simply mind-boggling. In that context, overlapping of

Far too many developers are zealously busy making ‘the next big bot’ and the number of chatbots is simply mind-boggling. In that context, overlapping of

In that context, overlapping of identity is inevitable, but you need to watch out. Give your bot a unique name that makes it stand out from others. This will also make it easier for your users to trace your bot.

#4 Help customers get started:

Don’t wait for consumers to come to your bot; instead, make your bot approach them directly. Most people remain ambivalent about the interface of a chatbot.

They come across a blank screen instead of a button or a website with well-defined CTA. Be proactive and help them initiate a conversation through helpful automatic prompts that tell them what to do next.

#5 Make the conversation smooth:

Aim to make a bot that mimics a smooth-flowing, natural conversation flow to engage seamlessly with consumers and streamline the entire process. Your

Aim to make a bot that mimics a smooth-flowing, natural conversation flow to engage seamlessly with consumers and streamline the entire process. Your endeavour must be to make it easier for them to get their questions answered at any point in time.

#6 Don’t complicate:

Think of your bot as the face or a representative of your company that is meant to provide useful information about your company and its products. Keep it short, simple and smart through concise sentences. Complicated jargon or confusing grammar can confuse the reader and impede the bot’s efficacy.

#7 Optimise your bot:

Chatbot is a power digital marketing platform, so treat it like any other channel that needs to be refurnished and optimised from time to time. This is paramount because they are a dynamic technology that is fast changing.

#8 Unearth one feature at a time:

While chatbots can perform a plethora of roles and functions, you don’t need to reveal them all in one go. If you inundate your users with all the features, they could get overwhelmed. Instead, adopt an approach that unveils the right feature at the right time.

#9 Market effectively:

Yes, chatbot is a brilliant marketing tool for your business on its own, but you do need to get the word out there for potential consumers. To that end, settling for any one marketing strategy in isolation might not do the trick; you may want to use a combination of creative approaches to promoting your bot.

#10 Research your competitors: The chatbot industry is confronted with burgeoning competition in that everybody is going all out to outdo their rivals.

Hence, it is important to be vigilant and keep tracking your competitors, especially successful ones, to know where they’re going right and what is it that you can learn from them. It is a small world out there and you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to augment your knowledge and expertise, even if that means learning a thing or two from your competition.

How to Maximise the Impact of your Chatbot?

To maximise the impact and success of your bot, consider these 7 points.

#1 Leverage other brands’ customers

Chatbot platforms like Poncho and 1–800-Flowers are well-known for the fact that they can be used through Facebook Messenger. It was a great strategy that catapulted them into the global platform.

People who browse the websites of these brands find their way to a Messenger chatbot linked to Facebook. It is for these reasons that these platforms are attaining great success.

If you want to make a successful chatbot, don’t rule out the feasibility of cross-promotion, which is a wonderful way of reaching new audiences. Using simple yet effective promotional strategies, a chatbot can easily add thousands of new users in a short span of time.

#2 Choose a robust tool

This is a very important component of making a successful bot. Sure, you can make a fully functional bot for free on your own, but making it impactful in the long term and using it for monetization purposes necessitates a robust tool.

Thankfully, there are some powerful chatbot building tools that can empower you to make an intuitive, intelligent bot with no coding at all. Yes, tools can get you started within minutes. Integration with PayPal, Stripe and Shopify makes it even better for business looking to attract users with easy payment options and sales-enhancing strategies.

#3 Evangelise your bot

While it is true that chatbots are creating a lot of buzz on the internet, you still need to make the right kind of noises for the right audience. Regarding people who should matter to you, only a few know how to interact with them.

Traditional strategies to attract new users have not yielded the desired results. During the first few months, chatbots were confusing and prone to errors. The scenario has changed but not drastically, which is why more chatbots fail than those that succeed.

Amidst this ambiguity, one lesser-known bot called Swelly leapfrogged its user base from zilch to 800,000 in merely three months. How did it do that?

Well, the only different thing it did was to collaborate with YouTube influencers for the purpose of endorsements. This means that the audience which approached the bot platform was already filtered.

#4 Reduce the number of options

It may sound weird, but lowering the number of options can boost engagement significantly. For instance, the 1–800-Flowers features three delivery date options (today, tomorrow and choose a date).

After figuring out that there were many input errors causing unsuccessful transactions, they quickly did away with the third option- the results were encouraging. Additional options are known to limit user interaction.

This suggests that optimising engagement in chatbots need:

  • Buttons instead of free forms for processing user inputs
  • Automatic transitions to replace pre-defined actions
  • Reducing options to as less as possible

#5 Increase your customer engagement

Your bot’s customer engagement is based on the type of service it offers. Bots like Poncho and Mitsuku offer information on a myriad optics like politics, pop culture and movies and hence, witness heightened customer interaction.

Therefore, during making a chatbot, it is important to find your core competitiveness and focus on it while ensuring that the quality and standard of interactions is right up there.

#6 Take feedbacks seriously

It is again a crucial point to be taken into consideration to safeguard the credibility of your bot. While users are typically patient in that they know you’re constantly trying out new updates to make their lives easier and more productive, you need to let them know that you’re concerned about things that are important to them.

Bots that are successful typically entail feedbacks from users to ensure a smarter, more user-friendly experience.

#7 Knowledge sharing

Technology is intrinsically about knowledge sharing, collective growth, and discovery. Needless to say, chatbots are no exceptions. You cannot get favourable results in isolation because even the best of bots sometimes experience troubles in resolving key issues.

There is a growing need for serious and competent contributors within the chatbot community. Lay people need to be educated on what bots are, how they work and how they can make their lives better.

Huge communities of chat developers exist where ideas are generated discussed and shared for free to boost the general user experience. And, that is a good thing that must percolate into other channels as well.

Chatbot Making Tips for Small Business

Unlike humans, a chatbot can serve your business 24/7/365, empowering you to provide round the clock customer service to a practically endless audience. There are myriad ways in which you can use chatbot to improve customer engagement and enhance your business prospects.

Here are 10 tips to create a chatbot for your small business

#1 Observe successful bots

A chatbot is a domain that is being looked at with a lot of interest by developers, businesses, customers and major brands. Needless to say, the competition is cutthroat and users are becoming increasingly discerning and are intelligent enough to sense a mediocre bot from some distance.

In the event you’re unsure how to get started (which is natural), start off by observing and analysing successful.

Is it the interface or the technology or a combination of the two? What is their strategy to attract users? Do they focus on answering questions or resolving problems? Do they diversify into wide-ranging domains to proliferate? Prepare a list of such questions and do your own research to come up with the answers. By doing that, you’ll be better positioned to start planning.

#2 Don’t erode the human touch

If you’re a small business owner, you’ll be selling your products or services to humans and not robots. Remember that while preparing to create a chatbot for your small business. You’d do well to remember that there will always be some customers who’d prefer human engagement, so always incorporate an option within the bot interface that allows them to contact a real person.

This is paramount in cases where the chatbot is unable to address their questions specifically.

At the same time, ensure that the customer is made aware they’re not interacting with a human in order to maintain transparency.

#3 Set realistic expectations

While it’s a very good thing to be ambitious for your small business, remember that all success stories unfold one step at a time in an incremental manner. By integrating chatbots in your overall business strategy, you’re using a technology that is still in the process of solidifying its presence.

Granted, chatbots are able to unlock the latent potential of monetizing your marketing strategies in a tangible way. However, you may want to be specific in terms of how you plan to use chatbot for your business. Do you plan to leverage them to provide information about your product? Or would you rather have them answer basic customer service questions?

#4 Imbibe wit

The point of contact is hugely important in that it separate good businesses from average ones. To that end, your engagement strategy needs to be spot on. The easiest way to put off a potential customer is to make them wait or go around in circles without addressing their specific concerns.

It is very important to make a chatbot that is not only fast and efficient but also intelligent enough to sustain a conversation in a friendly, natural manner. You don’t necessarily need to make your bot obsequious, but you’d do well to work with developers to imbibe wit and humour. This will eliminate the element of boredom or predictability from the chatbot and make them talk in a human-like manner.

#5 Choose a suitable tool

Regardless of how modest your business appears right now, it is bound to grow at some stage and it only makes sense to invest in a robust chatbot building tool if you’ve decided to leverage them as part of your marketing strategy.

These days, there are a plethora of wonderful tools that let you make chatbots in no time at all without any coding. Many of them even offer free chatbot building plans that allow you to make functional bots for free! Platforms like messenger etc offer great opportunities for monetization thanks to their impressive features and integration with Shopify and PayPal.

#6 Make them contextually relevant

You customers could be messaging from myriad platforms like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, SMS, Kik, Viber Line, etc. Also, they could harbour different expectations on different platforms. For instance, users typically go to Facebook to socialise or rant about something; they are unlikely to seek a technical problem’s resolution there. Instead, they’re more likely to get a brand’s attention on Twitter.

Therefore, your chatbot needs to factor in the context in which customers are approaching you. Before creating bots, think about contextual relevance: How and in what frame of mind does customer likely to reach you?

#7 Select your channels carefully

Out of the numerous messaging platforms, you should look to select something that is relevant to you. For instance, if you’re a small business owner in the US, Facebook Messenger and SMS may suffice, but that may not fit the bill in other countries. Each region has different IM platforms that are used extensively by a large audience.

If you’re unsure how to approach this, just begin with SMS texting and the leading messaging app used by the majority population; take it from there.

#8 Keep your promises

The technology market is replete with chatbots that have little meaning and relevance. In their zest to be different and stay ahead of the trend, many businesses end up fancy looking but under-delivering chatbots that serve little purpose. If your idea of a successful bot is to merely pique the curiosity of customers and get them to click on it without offering anything substantial, you may want to reconsider your approach.

Not only would you be neutralising the immense potential of chatbots; you’d also be causing a lot of harm to the reputation of your own business. So, if your bot promises to accomplish a task for your customers, ensure that is equipped or intelligent enough to do that satisfactorily.

#9 Make your bots specific

As a small business venture, be prudent the scope of your chatbot and narrow it down to specifics to boost its efficacy. For instance, structured bots are effective for buying things from a limited number of options whereas scheduling chatbots are good for scheduling purposes.

Oftentimes, people assume that just because they have reached you from one channel, they hope to meet other needs through the same channel. For example, if customers click on your bot that reads ‘Order Now’ to order a gluten-free meal from a restaurant, they might come back to the same bot for a completely different context, which can lead to technical breakdowns.

#10 Assess your risk-taking ability

This is absolutely critical for small business owners and entrepreneurs because the stakes are that much higher. That would also be predicated on your target audience. How much risk are you willing to handle with your chatbots? Are you 100% sure that this is the right fir you for and how do find that out?

If your brand/reputation is the lifeblood of your business, then be 100% sure that you need to leverage chatbot as a potent marketing strategy and don’t look backwards. Any less than 100% means you’re not quite sure yet, so pause for a bit and take a hard look at your priority.

Takeaway

It is not easy to make a successful bot, but it is certainly attainable. Just be more aware, augment your knowledge base, take help when needed and guard against complacency while preparing your chatbot strategies. Building and maintaining a chatbot are two sides of the same coin. As long as you’re consistent and tactful, you’re on the right path.

 

Tiny but not Little-A Chatbot Guide for 2018 was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.