Start successfully with the development and implementation of your Chatbots with these 4 tips!

Alexander Wijninga

Alexander Wijninga

| 5 min

Every company sets different goals for their Chatbot and every bot looks differently, just like we humans do. The development and implementation of a Chatbot can be a real challenge. In my job as a Customer Success Manager at Watermelon I see all kinds of different Chatbots. I help companies to successfully develop and implement their new Chatbot. Where do you sart when you hire your first new digital co-worker? I’ll give you the tips you need to start building your own Chatbot!

1. Determine a clear goal before you start building

The technology for building a Chatbot is new for many people and some have not even discovered it yet. It is not your average 101 computer knowledge. Fortunately, nowadays there are many possibilities to simply bring your own Chatbot into being. I see companies putting their Chatbots to work for many different purposes: as an extra service employee, to generate leads, to be available 24/7, to improve their customer experience or for fun. The possibilities are endless! This leads me to my first recommendation: be creative with your Chatbot’s purpose, however, do keep it specific.

One of the challenges of a Chatbot is that the user can ask anything he or she wishes, the input is unlimited. Just like any other project, it is important to identify the value proposition for your Chatbot. By doing this you can determine the scope of your Chatbot. You should do this before you start developing your Chatbot. See it like hiring a new co-worker. Normally, you’ll first think what position this person will take on in the team and what tasks he or she will perform, this is also true for your digital co-worker.

2. Develop a Minimum Viable Chatbot

Meanwhile you have a strategy in mind, so the next step is: building your Chatbot. What I often see going wrong is companies building and changing their Chatbots endlessly. And then, the Chatbot goes live and it turns out its visitors are asking different kinds of questions. To tackle this problem is to begin small. Think about one thing your chatbot must be really good at and build your bot like you would when creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). When people start using your Chatbot you’ll learn what the most frequently asked questions and requests are and consequently, you can determine how to use this in the setup of your Chatbot.

When you start thinking about building your Chatbot for the first time and talk about what your MVP Chatbot will be like, you only have to keep one thing in mind: Focus. A good example of a Chatbot with a clear focus is the ‘recipe bot’ of Albert Heijn (a Dutch supermarket chain). The recipe bot only has one focus: helping their visitor with finding a good meal. The user exactly knows what to expect. The content creator at the other side of the Chatbot knows exactly what content has to be created. Create a fixed framework by clearly defining the scope of your chat-assistant. By working within the established framework, chances are the content of your bot will be perfect! This would be a win-win for both the organization and your end-user.

3. Your Chatbot will fail. And that is a good thing!

One of my most important tips I always give to my customers is: go live! Who know better what questions are going to be asked than the users themselves? However, you do need to keep in mind that your Chatbot will fail, which is a good thing! Language is way more complicated than just pushing a button, there are hundreds of ways to ask the same question. When your bot is not able to help this could be because it does not understand the question of the visitor. Another reason for this could be that the Chatbot does not possess the right knowledge. Essentially, users will always tell you exactly what they want, which offers you the opportunity to improve your customer experience. So, besides the goal you have set at the beginning for your Chatbot, it will also function as a massive questionnaire at the same time!

Your digital co-worker is probably not able to answer all your questions directly and that’s okay! It is up to you to think about how you (or your Chatbot) should deal with these questions in the future. Do you want to transfer the user to an employee when the bot does not know the answer to a question? Or do you rather not want your employees taking over conversations of your Chatbot? When developing your Chatbot strategy, you should also take these questions into account. If, for example, you do not want a human employee to be available to answer questions, you should create a bot for answering the easier questions. Next to that, use different channels for those customers that need help in a different way. If you do want to offer the possibility to chat with a human co-worker, then keep in mind that you need to make some man-hours available. Also think about whether you want to add the knowledge your Chatbot still does not have. Some questions you might not want to add to your Chatbot. Always think about what fits the purpose of your Chatbot and your strategy. Or, maybe you should adapt your strategy along the way to better align it with the need of your visitors. Eventually, customer experience should come first!

4. Help your users by managing expectations

You have created your strategy, develop your Minimum Viable Chatbot and you have connected your Chatbot on all your channels, so then it is finished right? Well, unfortunately, it is not. Just like you would like your human co-workers to keep growing and learning, you also want that for your digital colleague. Be aware of the fact that a Chatbot must keep learning to improve your customer experience and to keep surprising your visitors. Visitors always like a personalized experience. They want to get the feeling that they are understood and get useful answers to their questions, which is of course a totally valid expectation. However, it is not always possible. A Chatbot can never have all answers which is something you can not expect of your human support employees as well. However, with a Chatbot you can manage this expectation towards your customers which will help you to guarantee a pleasant customer experience after all.

When you build your Chatbot you get the opportunity to give it a welcoming message. In this welcoming message you can write that your Chatbot is still learning and that it learns new things on a daily basis. Or, you can say that when the Chatbot does not know an answer it might help to rephrase your question. Invest in informing your customers about using a Chatbot, about it’s abilities and how it communicates. I can almost hear you thinking, why is that so important? Well, by managing these expectations from the start you’ll notice that your customers will be much more patient and forgiving when the Chatbot does not know an answer to a question. And this might just make the difference between failure and success of your Chatbot!

Eventually it is all about expectations!

With the right implementation a Chatbot could mean a lot for your organisation. It could take a lot of repetitive and recurring tasks off your hands. Before you start building your Chatbot you must be aware of some important matters. First of all, it wil take time and your Chatbot will not be able to answer all questions immediately. Start with a Minimum Viable Chatbot and make sure this version works well. By doing so you can get to know the user of your Chatbot and determine how to develop your Chatbot from that point onwards and what you will need to teach the Chatbot and what you should maybe explicitly not teach it. Think about how your Chatbot should handle situations in which it does not know the answer to a question, because the customer experience should stay great at all times!

The most important element which you can also read in every tip is the managing of expectations. This concerns the expectations you have of your chatbot, but also the expectations which you can manage towards your customers about the use of a Chatbot. When you get this right, you are well on your way to creating an awesome digital colleague!

I am very curious whether you have already added a chatbot to your team and what your experiences are. Please let me know in the comments below!

Have you not yet added a Chatbot to your team? in a non-binding free demo we can explain you how easily you can build your own Chatbot with Watermelon. Click here to request a demo!

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