Working with chatbots

A recent study by Comm100 projected a 276% increase in chatbot adoption by 2020. So it should come as no surprise that companies are finding new ways to engage online buyers through chatbots, both before and after purchase. However, what is surprising is that even with significant use cases ranging from lead qualification to customer service, there is still a gap between the expectations and the reality of executing chatbots. 

The expectations of chatbots are endless. But, without a clear blueprint on how to go about it, steering technology to deliver results is difficult. It requires careful planning and strategizing. 

Chatbot Best Practices

Here's how you can implement chatbots successfully.

Don't start without a goal in mind.

Make a plan for what you would like the chatbot to achieve. Once you know the key goals of the chatbot, you'll be able to approach every decision from the user's perspective. For example, if your users want quick answers, consider automating those inquiries that are most commonly requested. This could be lead generation related, tracking related,  or perhaps customer onboarding steps. If you know what purpose the chatbot will be serving, you’ll be able to design the bot around that. 

Design your chatbot’s tone of voice. 

Your bot acts as a representative of your company - so when deciding the tone of voice of your chatbot - it should echo your brand's existing personality, with a more human, conversational tone. Since visitors have different expectations from a live agent vs a chatbot, there are a couple of ways to set these expectations clearly right at the beginning - inform visitors that it is a chatbot, lay out the topics/ capabilities that the chatbot can help the visitor with, and have an option to directly connect with a live agent.

Don't force resolutions through chat every time.

It's unfair to expect a machine to match human understanding; chatbots still lack empathy and emotions. So when users are reaching out, it's okay if the chatbot cannot resolve every interaction. The object of chatbots is to help customers find answers by themselves, and ease agent workload - not to solve every customer issue by denying access to other channels of support entirely. We recommend assigning an agent to handle all customer queries that the chatbot is unable to solve. 

Enable easy hand-over to an agent when the bot is stuck.

While chatbots are designed to enable visitors to find quick, easily accessible solutions, chatbots are not a fix-all - there will always be situations where visitors need to speak to human agents. In this case, don't leave the user hanging. If there is a query that the chatbot cannot handle, the conversation should be immediately sent to a live chat agent, and if one is unavailable, send a message along the lines of -  "I don't have an answer for you, but I'll transfer you to one of my team members." This will make sure the user doesn't end the conversation. 

Use rich media along with text messages.

The right content is vital to connect with your users, but it is just as important to use the most appropriate format in messaging. Don't rely on text messages at all times. Some messages are easier to understand via a video or image format. For example, a triggered message to introduce a new feature can be best communicated through a video. Or, an offer targeted towards a high-quality lead can be sent in the form of an image. So, where a text might go ignored, rich media captures attention. 

Create a balance between the human and the robotic nature of your chatbot.

Here's the thing, the jury is still out on how human a bot should be. Chatbots are given human characteristics through design capabilities, referred to as skeuomorphism. While skeuomorphism helps to resonate with users, it might deceive the user into thinking they are talking to a human. Chatbot experts recommend finding a balance in skeuomorphism by allowing the chatbot to sound human but being transparent about being a bot. For example, create a robotic image for your bot instead of a human-face, so even when it converses like a human, the user knows that they are talking to a bot. 

Enable multilingual capabilities to localize conversations.

Global businesses today are gravitating towards localization tactics to connect with their customers. The most effective way to reach audiences across the world is by offering content in regional languages. If your chatbot can communicate in languages other than the primary language of your website, you'll be widening your market reach. Some common languages to consider are English (if it's not your primary language), Spanish, French, and German.

Pursue alternative channels that your customers use.

We know messaging is more popular on apps and social media than on a website. It means you now have the opportunity to connect with your users on a channel they are more likely to engage in. Sending them updates via Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger can be an easy way to engage your leads and convert them into paying customers.

Collect lead information on chat.

Usually, lead forms take you away to another landing page where users fill out the details. It impacts two things: First, this causes an increased bounce rate as people may leave the page without filling the form. Second, it reduces the time spent on the first page that had the CTA. However, if you offer a triggered message to share details via the chatbot, you'll be able to keep people on the page and gather their information. For example, if the user is on a blog page and the CTA is to download an ebook, end with a message like, "Would you like an ebook that can help you learn more on this topic?". If the answer is yes, you can simply ask for their email address and instantly send them the ebook. 

Send your customers to the right team to solve their problems.

When customers reach out through the chatbot, give them the option of reaching out to the most relevant group to resolve the query. When questions are targeted to the right team,  all queries that can not be resolved by the chatbot itself will be routed to the right team. For instance, group your teams into Product Queries', 'Product Feedback' 'Pricing and Billing' and 'Customer Support.' You can then automatically channel the queries to the respective team, and keep track of the kind of questions you receive.

Measure the resolution rate of the bot. 

Monitor the resolution rate of the chatbot. If it's a chatbot with artificial intelligence, it's learning from every interaction, so the resolution rate should increase with time. Set small resolution goals like a 5-10% increase to start with, carefully study what messaging strategy is working and what isn't. You can then consider what changes need to be made to further increase the resolution rate.

How do chatbots help your team deliver better results?

Go back to - What is a chatbot?