Given that 48% of consumers say that they prefer to communicate with a company via a chatbot over any other means, it’s no surprise that chatbots are more attractive than ever.
Chatbots are AI-powered computer programs that are meant to engage in a 1:1 live chat with potential leads and current clients. These bots are expected to converse in a human-like form and be able to comprehend the users' intent. They are designed with specific business goals in mind.
Advancements in technology, along with chatbot creation tools becoming more accessible and easier to use, will continue to increase chatbot relevancy in day-to-day, B2B communication. Although they have not become mainstream just yet, 80 percent of businesses are expected to have a chatbot by year 2020. Currently, chatbots are being utilized for different functions such as:
- Resolving complaints or problems
- Finding a human agent
- Making a reservation
- Paying bills
- Purchasing a product
- Getting detailed answers to complex questions
- 24-hour customer service support
Implementing a chatbot isn’t just valuable for consumers, but for businesses as well. Since chat bot's broaden marketing reach, improve customer support, build brand awareness, build email lists, improve consumer behavior knowledge, promote new products/services, increase social media reach, and increase lead generation, they're clearly not a tool to ignore.
The current technological landscape has given rise to professional chatbot development tools that make implementing chatbots for your business simple, with no coding knowledge being necessary. The technology and demand for chatbots are already here. That's why we've compiled these 7 best practices for implementing chatbots on your website:
1. Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is the first step to developing a chatbot that is aligned with your business brand and goals. Defining clear buyer personas will enable you to create a chatbot that adapts its conversation based on the buyer’s demographics and needs. Your target audience could range from the CEO to the CMO, and each will have their own pain points and motivations.
Make sure to consult all departments before the development of your website chatbot. This will ensure that your chatbot is well-rounded in every aspect like functionality (IT department), company culture (HR department), customer service (Customer Success department), and brand personality (Inbound Marketing/Branding department.) Consulting all departments will result in a fully functional yet on brand chatbot that’s aligned with your business goals.
2. Define the Purpose of your Chatbot
It’s also important to develop the purpose of your chatbot before going into the development phase because it will dictate what the chatbot will be used for. From lead generation to brand awareness to streamlining purchase decision making, your chatbot needs to make it clear through its greeting what its purpose is. Having a clear greeting based on the bot’s purpose will set the expectations right from the beginning and increase customer satisfaction.
3. Choose the right development tools
Like we mentioned earlier, creating a chatbot for your business is simpler than ever so you don’t have to take on this endeavor in-house. Some popular tool options to consider are:
In order to make sure you provide the best customer experience, make sure the tool you use is compatible with your current systems that are in place. For example, if you’re going to use your bot for order placement then it must be integrated with your ordering system.
Another way to improve your customer’s experience is to have your employee teams create a journey map with alternate ways a customer might type out a response or ask a question. Humans communicate in different ways so having your bot programmed with these variations will help.
4. Give your chatbot personality
People connect with people so your website chatbot needs to emulate natural conversation patterns in order to provide a better customer experience and stay on brand. Also, using a real photo and name will help simulate a real human connection and allow you to weave your brand’s personality into the bot. Simple skeuomorphism has been proven to still be helpful in terms of mimicking a real-life human connection and allows your brand's voice shine through. Aligning your chatbot with your branding visuals, such as colors and fonts, is another way to maintain the brand coherence users now look for.
5. Ensure that the conversation is a positive experience
If not designed correctly, chatbots can frustrate your customer. Practicing the following tip can help promote a successful, enjoyable interaction:
- Respond in a timely manner but allow for human-like typing lags
- Include buttons to speed up/lead customer journey and be less prone to error
- Break up information to make it more digestible, ex: separate into paragraphs, bullets, bold lettering
- Don’t be too pushy
- Program bot to deal with ambiguities and miscommunication by clarifying with customers before continuing
6. Prepare for misunderstandings
Chatbots have come a long way, but this doesn’t mean there isn't room for improvement. Therefore, preparing for misunderstandings is a must. Chatbots are an emerging technology, so there will be times when they can’t fully assist customers. Although chatbots are meant to free up your employees' time, rather than replace them, it’s still important to always give the option of speaking to a human agent.
While misunderstandings are bound to happen, there are ways to mitigate them. Firstly, some give your customer a heads up early on in the conversation about what your chat bot can and can't do. Then, guide the conversation to focus on what your chat bot can do. When a request is out of the scope of your bot, send a friendly message that a human will be notified and get back to the customer shortly. This transparency will keep your customer feeling supported and set the right expectations for their interaction with your bot.
7. Continuously analyze and improve your chatbot
Testing, analyzing, and learning is integral to improving your business and chatbots are no exception. Having a chatbot is a long-term strategy that requires continuous improvement and updating. Testing it before and after it goes live involves analyzing transcripts and pinpointing areas of improvement. The more customers use it, the more data you will have on how they are interacting with it and what’s working vs. what’s not working.
“Where 10 years ago every company needed a website and five years ago every company needed an app, now every company needs to embrace messaging apps with AI and chatbots." - Murray Newlands, Chatbot expert and founder of ChattyPeople
Chatbots aren't just a trend. With their increasing accessibility and popularity, they seem to be here to stay. Consumers can now get the real-time customer service they’ve been craving, while companies can outsource many aspects of their business to a 24/7 digital employee. Taking advantage of this technology now, rather than later, will allow you to be at the forefront by testing, learning, and adapting your chatbot to help maximize your bottom line.