Cloud services make it easier than ever for a business to launch a chatbot to interact with clients, customers or shoppers. However, that ease of use and ability to move fast needs to be tempered by ensuring the bot meets the needs of both end users and the business.

1. What is the business need?

If someone in your company says “we need a bot!” The first response has to be “why do we need one, and what are the benefits for us?” The common use cases are to handle growing numbers of queries, speeding up interactions, to help grow a brand or generate revenue. Whatever the need, the team creating and managing the bot require baseline metrics of how the company is now. These can be how many calls do we get a day, or how many email enquiries do we spend time addressing, or comparable figures depending on the use case.

The bot needs to be developed and marketed correctly to address the need, and provide data to show that the business is moving in the right direction. Most companies shouldn’t expect a stellar change when launching a bot, but by monitoring the numbers, tweaking the bot, improving messaging and marketing, and pushing the bot to platforms like Facebook Messenger or other social media, it should perform and help improve the business. Based on that success, you can then look at expanding it or creating more bots to handle other aspects of the business.

2. What do your customers want from a bot?

Having established the business use case, user requirements must also be understood. Most customers simply want faster, better service. Bots can deliver faster and be 24/7 to boot, with no wait time between a customer talking to the bot. Better requires the business to understand what the customers will ask the bot and provide the right answer in the minimum number of steps. Testing and monitoring the bot in action will also help show how customers react and use the bot. If they ask more of it than the bot currently offers on a regular basis, consider updating it to enable those requests, and if there is ever a point where customers regular meet an unsatisfactory outcome, then it needs to be improved rapidly before users lose faith in it.

3. Can media help the bot improve speed of service?

Chatbots aren’t just about words. Images and video can be used by bots to help explain an issue or show off a product, all of which cuts down on text and helps move the conversation along. Some emotion-based bots use emojis to help start a discussion or gauge a client’s state of mind, all of these features can be used in bots to help reduce typing and make the experience something more like most social interactions. Even if the bot is all text, careful use of language and elimination of long phrases can help trim vital seconds off a conversation.

4. Can the bot be less robotic?

People are used to smart machines these days, and a robotic chatbot will feel like a throwback. Make sure your bot has some personality and is capable of a little empathy to make the conversation feel warmer and less artificial. Some brands or businesses can get away with full-blown humour, ad hoc discussion and spend longer in getting-to-know-you mode. Try out other bots to see how far they go to be human and find a suitable balance that represents your business voice and tone. Whatever the bot, adding a friendly or light tone will often help win over customers.

5. Can artificial intelligence help improve service?

Chatbot services like SnatchBot provide natural language processing to help the bot better understand key phrases or words. As bots develop and use deeper AI technology they will also be able to provide better answers or address complex problems. Look at how your bot can use AI features, to improve the service it offers. There’s no need to market it as an “AI bot” to your customers, just tell them that it is better at understanding their questions and finding answers for them to avoid people getting the impression that the bot is smarter than they are.

Addressing these simple issues when conceiving, developing and launching the bot will improve its impact and usefulness for the customer, and help boost your business as a result.