A Guide to a Winning Bot Strategy for Your Business
For businesses looking to win at the digital automation game, chatbots are a non-negotiable part of their strategy. A Business Insider report found that by the end of this year (2020), 80% of businesses will be using chatbots. Another report from Servion Global Solutions predicts that by 2025, artificial intelligence, including chatbots and virtual assistants, will guide 95% of all customer interactions. A business that offers a limited answering service alone may not be able to sustain satisfied customers. If your goal is to win customers, out-do competition, and grow business, then an effective bot strategy must be a part of your larger business plan.
What is a Chatbot Strategy?
A bot strategy is a plan that will define the purpose of chatbots in elevating your business play. The advancement of AI and automation in recent times has opened up many new possibilities and use cases across industries. While the first chatbots of the world performed simple automated messaging and customer service functions, today’s chatbots can take care of a variety of business-critical activities.
Bots can be used for lead generation to convert potential leads through the power of AI. Marketing chatbots can be used to raise brand awareness and loyalty. While there may be many innovative ways to use chatbots for business, a winning chatbot strategy needs to outline the distinct role chatbots will play in your business plan.
A comprehensive chatbot strategy needs to cover all bases, from user experience, user interface, and conversational flows, to a support strategy and a feedback and correction plan to improve its functionality after the chatbot is rolled out. However, having an approach does not mean that all aspects of your chatbot are set in stone from start to finish. A winning chatbot strategy must make room to change things up based on how your chatbot achieves the goals you set out for it to meet. Performance metrics and statistics can help match your chatbot strategy with your ultimate goals.
The Fundamentals of a Bot Strategy
Have a clear goal
The first step to an excellent bot strategy is to identify its purpose. Having a chatbot just because your competitor has one is not good enough. You need a convincing answer to “why chatbots” before jumping into the “how.” Begin with outlining clear, useful, and measurable goals for your chatbot to achieve.
For instance, if you want to use a chatbot for lead generation, your chatbot goal should specify your lead goals, often referred to as Conversation Qualified Leads or CQLs. You should also know the timeline within which you wish to achieve these leads, how you plan to train your sales agents to adapt to chatbot usage, among other things. A chatbot with a few core functions is bound to achieve its goals faster than a multi-functional bot.
Focus on customer experience
A successful chatbot in business is less about technology and more about addressing your target audience’s specific needs. Before you flesh out a clear objective for your chatbot, talk to your prospects to understand their needs. For example, 95% of customers who have used a chatbot believe that “customer service” will be the biggest beneficiary. A business trying to implement a customer service chatbot strategy needs to have insight into which conversations need to be automated for their business. Engage with your customers on different platforms like phone, surveys, and social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger to get a holistic perspective on what customers want and incorporate them into your strategy.
Choose the right technology
Do you want to code your chatbot from scratch, or do you want to use a pre-built chatbot design and incorporate your personalized features? Choosing the best option and appropriate technology for your chatbot is an essential strategy. A pre-built design for a chatbot has many advantages. Not only is it cost and time-effective, it is also easier to integrate into other apps and across platforms. For instance, Freshchat allows chatbot developers to integrate with several third-party services or apps. Freshchat is compatible with four of the leading web browsers, can be plugged into your website or mobile app, and is compatible with platforms like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp.
Invest time in safety and security
Chatbots usually collect information it receives from user engagement. Sometimes, especially when they are customer-facing, sensitive data passes through chatbot APIs. Such information needs to be protected at all costs. A chatbot with weak security protocols has already failed, even before going live. A fundamental element of the chatbot strategy is to take the safety and security of its interactions very seriously. Some safety parameters to look for are EU GDPR, HIPAA, Privacy Shield among others.
Create conversational flows
While chatbots can mimic human conversations, they still have to be programmed to do so. Once you know your chatbot’s goal and the kind of customers it will be interacting with, you also need to plan the conversational flow so that your bot is quick, effective, and capable of keeping up chats that sound natural. This cannot be done without careful planning.
Depending on your chatbot’s goal and functionality, think of what your bot’s journey will look like. Visualizing a bot’s journey can help identify potential pitfalls and appropriate backup strategies to remedy an erroneous situation.
The best strategies have multiple fallback options to navigate the journey back towards its goal if something goes wrong. Most poor-performing chatbots do not integrate fallback intent into their chatbot strategy, which sets them up for failure. For instance, a customer service chatbot that goes silent when a unique question comes up will lead to a poor customer experience, the complete opposite of what it was created for.
Dive deeper into adopting human qualities
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that when a chatbot has human characteristics, it improves user experience positively and impacts user perception. Humanizing your chatbot, especially customer-facing chatbots, needs to be incorporated as part of your bot design strategy. This includes creating a personality for your chatbot, distinct characteristics, and a plan for how it will function alongside your human employees.
As part of your chatbot strategy basics, you may have already considered an overarching personality and backstory for your bot. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, it is essential to think about how your chatbot fits your overall business image. When it comes to customer chatbots, many times, this may be a person’s first interaction with your business. Your chatbot’s name, language, messaging tone, and efficiency will all make an impact. Apart from the conversational interface and design, you also spend time focusing on your bot’s personality details and ensuring it fits your business image.
Even the best chatbot cannot replace humans in your business. No matter the function, chatbots work best as supporting assistants that perform repetitive functions to free up agents to handle more complex duties. For example, marketing bots collect customer information that marketers can use to enhance efficiency in segmenting customers. While strategizing, you will need to consider how the bot and its human counterparts will work together to achieve the final goal you have in mind.
Create a feedback mechanism
Incorporating a feedback mechanism into your chatbot flow will make it easier to test your chatbot’s success. From user experience to employee suggestions, think of ways to collect feedback on-the-go. This could prove to be one of the essential components of your strategy. Unless you learn what mistakes your bot is making, you will not fix them and achieve your goals.
Remember to analyze
Apart from user feedback, chatbots can also be programmed to generate self-feedback. Key performance metrics (KPIs) can monitor the efficacy of chatbots. KPIs need to be outlined depending upon the function your chatbot plays in business. A customer service chatbot strategy may include KPIs like monitoring average response time, resolution rate, and escalation rate, and even zero contact response rate to check how efficiently the chatbot has resolved the chat without human interference. A marketer using a chatbot may find measuring cart abandonment rates and lead conversion rates more useful.
Your chatbot strategy cannot end with creation. Once implemented, you will also need to monitor its progress through feedback loops and self-generating KPIs. You must choose the right KPIs for your chatbot’s functions and gather user feedback.
Do you want to include in-conversation feedback or redirect your user to an external feedback source? Will the changes be implemented manually, or can automated routes fix errors? These are some aspects to consider while planning your chatbot’s improvement and growth and need to be included in your chatbot strategy.
Learn from your competitors
Winning strategies can be created by playing to your strengths, but being aware of your opponent’s game can help you strategize your own better. As the popularity of chatbots rises, knowing how your competitors use chatbots in their business can give you a few ideas on how to and not to use them on your own. However, while evaluating a competitor’s chatbot strategy, you must keep in mind that your goals and strengths may differ. This is why your plan has to be unique.
Using Freshchat for Multidimensional and Delightful Chatbot Experiences
Freshchat’s conversational AI can be used for a range of business goals, including marketing, sales, and customer support. Our chatbots allow you to build a bot or integrate your own with our messaging solutions. From precise answers to FAQs to agent redirection, Freshchat is designed to be the perfect ally to your team. Win every interaction with our chatbot! Get started now.
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