How to Build a Chatbot: Guide to Code-Free Chatbot Design

Chatbots have revolutionized the way that consumers interact with brands today. Whether it’s enabling marketing, sales or customer support, the demand for chatbots has increased exponentially. Customers now expect their issues to be addressed on a channel they prefer, with minimal friction, and with low to no wait time – and chatbots can solve all of these problems at once.  

But a lot of questions arise internally when a company decides to adopt a chatbot. How to build a chatbot? Do we need to know coding to build a chatbot? Should we code our own chatbot? While it’s true that organizations started off by coding their own chatbots, we’re now seeing a shift in preference towards code-free chatbot platforms.

Bot building platforms are more scalable than self-coded chatbots 

Benefits of bot building platforms

  • The core advantage of chatbot platforms is that they already have a fluid chatbot architecture in place, enabling faster bot creation and heightened scalability.
  • Chatbot platforms are a lot less complicated to develop and execute than in-house bots, offering more functionalities without compromising your company’s branding. 
  • With chatbot platforms, you get great templates that let you design chatbot conversations that are dynamic to varying customer journeys and scenarios.
  • They are light and bloat-free as opposed to a self-made chatbot architecture, where heavy coding and multiple iterations impact agility. 
  • As chatbot platforms offload the efforts taken on coding one, all that’s left for you to do is scripting chatbot conversations for different scenarios. This can be done within the platform’s interface without writing a single line of code.

How to choose a bot builder

To choose the right bot building platform, you need to figure out the problems that your organization wants to solve. Is it just going to be implemented primarily for ticket deflection, or do you need a more robust chatbot with lead generation and conversion capabilities? 

If your primary concern is ticket deflection by offering self-service customer support, and reducing friction for basic queries, an answer bot could be the right choice. But if you’re expecting more functionalities like lead nurture and conversions, a custom bot can do the heavy lifting for you. Before zeroing in on a bot builder, let’s get into how to design different chatbot workflows for different use cases. It will give you a good idea of the kind of chatbot you need. 

How to design common chatbot workflows

– Answer Bots

What is an answer bot?

Answer bots – as the name implies – enable you to generate basic automated chatbot conversations that engage visitors on your website. These bots are essentially an FAQ section with a better UI – where customers can ask the bot a question instead of searching through an entire knowledge base themselves. 

Reasons to use an answer bot

  • Offer your users quick-fix chatbot conversations, set expectations, automate a custom-designed conversation tree with well-researched and personalized Q&A–to find the balance between customer-centric and business-focused engagement.
  • Set up multiple conversation scenarios and customized chatbot questions as lead qualification mechanisms.
  • Create a strong offline support channel that covers your agents with empathetic exchanges, while also setting realistic expectations about when your support team would be back online.
  • Save your agents from repetitive support conversations with customers, freeing up their time to solve more complex customer issues. 

How to build an answer bot?

If you already have a knowledge base or customer portal in place, most of the work of building an answer bot is already done. As we mentioned before, the answer bot is an easier way to navigate through a lot of information – it’s like asking the librarian where to find a book, versus wandering through the aisles of a library hoping to find what you’re looking for. Answer bots can be created in three simple steps –

Step 1: Identify the most commonly asked questions on your website or app. You can either analyze the questions you have historically received from customers, or if you are setting up a new website, identify those questions you are most likely going to be asked. For instance, retailers mostly get asked questions about tracking orders, returns, refunds, etc. On the other hand, tourist attractions, offices, health clinics or schools might receive questions about timings and holidays. 

Step 2: Now that you know the questions most likely to be asked, design quick answers for FAQs, solution articles for potential issues, and bot conversation flows that help them find the answer themselves. Conversation flow is an engagement roadmap that helps you predefine probable questions and responses when a user engages in your chat. The AI-powered answer bots kick in with their learning capabilities and detect these predefined signals in conversations to come up with contextual responses. Below is a screenshot of a basic chatbot conversation flow on Freshchat’s Freddy Answer Bot.

how to build a chatbot - answer bot

The answer bot in the screenshot shows how you can even customize a conversation to get the details of your website visitor before launching a relevant response. Similar conversation flows can be designed for multiple scenarios – refund requests, payment issues, and support queries.

how to build a chatbot - answer bot

Step 3: While a basic design of conversation flow may suffice for a few use cases, you can do much more by plugging in your website’s resources to your bot. Add FAQs to your answer bot configuration to enable the chatbot to showcase relevant answers. Rather than putting you through the ordeal of picking answers from your self-service portal, the ideal chatbot would also let you plug in FAQs and solutions articles in the messenger itself. This will ensure your support agents don’t have to scamper through the website’s content to showcase the right answer when customers are asking feature or product-specific queries.

how to build a chatbot - FAQs

The content resources can also be mapped to a knowledge base–if the chatbot is integrated into a support helpdesk–to improve the bot’s cognition.

You can also set up an agent hand-off mechanism when your knowledge base doesn’t have sufficient information for the customer query. If the chatbot platform you choose is equipped with sentiment analysis, the conversation can be automatically handed over to a support agent when the customer shows signs of distress or when he/she is not getting the right answer.

Answer bots can work in tandem with custom bots

Answer bots can also engage customers in intent-based conversation flows borrowed from the workflows of custom bots. In a way, it’s not just an agent hand-off that can be set up, but the answer bot knows when to double-up as a custom bot that engages and converts customers.

how to build a chatbot - agent handover

BookMyShow: Example of an answer bot

BookMyShow uses button prompts of various possible customer issues and gives ready answers. But when the issue is something that requires human intervention, the chatbot facilitates agent hand-over. For instance, for the “SHOW CANCELLED BY CINEMA” support issue, BookMyShow has assigned an agent hand-over since the problem is not something that has a defined workflow. BookMyShow is also one of Freshchat’s pioneering adopters of Whatsapp Business API.

Answer bot examples

– Custom Bots

What is a custom bot?

Custom bots are preset launchpads that trigger conversations based on the intent of visitors. They are more conversion-driven than answer bots as they are designed to lead the conversation, instead of simply answering questions. While answer bots only serve as customer support assistants, custom bots can help you close the loop on intent-based conversations. You can design and build conversations to set up meetings, pitch products, recommend upgrades, nudge for purchase when there’s cart abandonment, and so on. 

Reasons to use a custom bot

  • For e-commerce sites, cart abandonment can be kept in check by proactively nudging customers with lucrative deals.
  • B2B businesses can use custom bots to set up meetings, scheduling demos, and offering product trials.
  • When the customer bot senses an opportunity, it can trigger bot flows after the answer bot responds to basic queries.

How to build a custom bot?

Where condition statements meet conversation branches: Now before you get scared away by ‘condition statements’, and ‘conversation branches’, let me remind you that this is still a code-free bot building exercise. In custom bot-building platforms, conditions and conversation flows are simply types of rules created in the form of journey maps. 

The journey maps represent various scenarios with customers matched-up with the corresponding conversation tree that you create. Conditions are applied to conversation branches like flowchart designs.

The workflow is fairly similar to that of answer bots, except that the capabilities are more robust, personalized, proactive, and focused on conversions. Custom bots also allow you to train your bot and enable it to learn from conversations to come up with the best flow or response.

how to build a chatbot - custom bots

The above screenshot shows a customer bot builder from Freshchat being used to qualify and segment leads intelligently. Website visitors are given three options, which captures their intent–whether they are looking to buy, existing customers trying to solve something, or just browsing for information. Each option triggers a separate workflow to get information from the customer and help them out. Similar conversation flows can be set up to nudge visitors towards a purchase decision, set up product demos, etc. 

Freshchat’s demo scheduling: Example of a custom bot

Freshchat makes scheduling product demos a breeze with a great custom bot flow combined with conversational AI. By capturing information such as team size, your team can customize the demo to the needs of the visitor, instead of starting the conversation cold.

Freddy custom bot

The Future: Hyper-personalized Hybrid Bots

Hybrid bot is a combination of custom bots and answer bots, powered by AI to pick up customer intent. For instance, a hybrid bot can pull out context from historical engagements with the customer to make hyper-personalized recommendations. Here’s how a hybrid bot would work wonders by serving both as a support and sales-driven bot:

future of chatbots

Bonus: How to deploy Facebook Messenger Bots for Business 

Messaging apps have now replaced social media as a channel of convenience for customers to reach out for support. Integrating chat with Messenger for business is now the way forward, as the online messaging platform has become an active channel for customer interactions and has proven to be a hassle-free and no-frills medium for customers to engage with brands.

The Wall Street Journal puts Facebook Messenger Bots to good use

Facebook messenger bot for business

This is a classic example of how brands can utilize Facebook Messenger bots for business. The Wall Street Journal offers a no-frills experience by preempting probable outcomes that customers usually look for. 

Once you hit ‘Get Started’, you get a quick rundown of news from around the world in a carousel format. Every news bit is provided with buttons that prompt you to ‘Share’ or ‘Read More’. You’re now onboard a subscription for a daily morning brief from The Wall Street Journal through Messenger.

Messenger bots are a complete win, considering how your organization doesn’t need to trigger a bot workflow to know the basic details of customers–as Facebook is already replete with profile information that users provide.

Not just this, the Messenger bot used by The Wall Street Journal lets you gather any news about topics like stocks, businesses, and international markets. All you have to do is type into their Messenger chat, and the bot manages to show up the most relevant results!

Now that you’ve understood the many types of chatbot, and understand which one you require, you can find out more about the Freshchat chatbots by signing up for a free trial or scheduling a product demo.