Does Your Chatbot Actually Help Your Customers? 12 Tips for an Effective Chatbot Implementation Strategy

Effective Chatbot Implementation Strategy

Adding a chatbot to your website can be a game changer for your company. Conversational technology is a cost-effective and efficient way to improve your customer service. These times, customers look online for goods and services, and they want immediate answers. If they don’t get them at your site, they will leap to a competitor’s. 

Chatbots help customers with common questions while leaving your staff free to attend more tough cases. A chatbot can also give you valuable information about your customers. When users interact with the chatbot, they allow you to know what they are looking for. You can use this data to refine your marketing strategy and generate leads.  

Chatbot implementation follows the same general process of any other software product: strategy, design, development and test. As with other products, a clear and defined strategy at the beginning is key for achieving good results at the end.  

This post gives you a primer on chatbots and (NR) top tips to implement a successful chatbot strategy. 

3 Key Principles for a Chatbot Implementation Strategy

When you plan a chatbot strategy, there are several principles to keep in mind: 

1. Focus on Use Cases With High Roi

The following cases provide almost instant ROI, giving you an advantage:

  • Customer service – according to IBM, companies that use bots can save up to 30% on customer service. Chatbots allow you to give customer service remotely and keep them satisfied. 
  • Sales – chatbots give your customers the chance to make orders with ease. Companies that added a Facebook chatbot for sales, like Flowers.com and Sephora, increased their online orders up to 70%. 
  • Recruiting – bots help employees bring their first layer requests to HR. Therefore, HR departments spend up to 50% less time attending simple HR issues. 

2. Start Small

 A difference of traditional applications, a chatbot offers unlimited inputs. Thinking about the different customer scenarios can be overwhelming. To avoid confusion, start small. 

Focus on the most critical use case and build a minimum viable product (MVP) of your bot. Launch your bot, and you can use the information it gathers to refine it. You’ll see what are the most common user requests and build from there. 

3. Focus on Your Customers

The key of a successful chatbot is to build trust with customers. You should use your bot to learn about your user, detect what they want and give it to them. A chatbot lets you personalize your service, improving your customer experience. 

5 Things a Chatbot Can Do for Your Business

The positive impact of a chatbot is making waves. Top companies like Marriot and Coca-Cola are getting significant results from their chatbots. The reason? Chatbots increase conversions by solving customers’ pain points. Banks like Swedish Nina,  for example, are relying on chatbots to solve simple customer issues. Last year, the bank chatbot reportedly solved solved 81% of customer queries.

1. Give instant customer service

With a chatbot, your customers can get instant answers to basic questions. Therefore, your customers can reach your business anytime. 

AI-powered chatbots “talk” to customers in a humanized way thanks to natural language processing capabilities. Equipped with a menu of questions and answers, chatbots interact with your visitors with actual conversations. And if someone asks a question your bot doesn’t know? No issue, you can program the chatbot to deliver the question to customer service. 

2. Collect valuable marketing data 

A chatbot can build your lead-generation list. Every time a customer signs into the chat using their social channels profile, you get their public profile data. Therefore, if you ask for their email address, for example, you can add them to your marketing lists. 

3. Personalized recommendations

Chatbots can be great shopping assistants. Beauty and cosmetics companies like Sephora are leveraging the power of chatbots to increase customer loyalty. 

Sephora chatbot as a shopping assistant

A bot that offers personal suggestions and helps customers find the right products provides a personalized user experience. And all without having an actual sales representative behind the screen. Chatbots can also accompany the customer in their journeys until the purchase. 

4. Follow-up abandoned carts.

The high rate of abandoned carts is a challenge for many e-commerce sites. Customers abandon their carts because they get distracted, or the checkout process is difficult. Chatbots can help by reminding the customer of the products they left behind. You can also program the bot to offer discounts or offer related products. This can up the conversion rate in a simple and cost-effective way. 

Now that you know how a chatbot can help you, let’s explore how to make the most of your chatbot. 

5. Boost Offers and discounts

You can also program the bot to offer discounts or offer related products, in this fashion, a chatbot can up-sell, remind customers of seasonal offers. In the example above, a page builder reminds customers of their summer sale.  This can up the conversion rate in a simple and cost-effective way

Now that you know how a chatbot can help you, let’s explore how to make the most of your chatbot.

Steps of an Effective Chatbot Implementation Strategy

At SCSS we believe that the stronger the process, the better the results. These are the steps we follow when developing chatbots for our clients

1. Gather requirements

This is the first step for any software product, and the chatbot development process is no different. We sit with you to understand the challenge you need the chatbot to solve and your expectations. At this stage we also select which is the best platform or platforms to implement the chatbot. For example, if it is better on Facebook messenger or on page. We develop a deep understanding about the project and who will use the chatbot. 

This detailed discovery helps us grasp a comprehensive picture of the requirements and develop a solution accordingly. 

2. Plan the conversation flow chart

Based on our discovery session, we create the flowchart of the chatbot. This plan details how the chatbot will work, and in which scenarios. Then we create the chatbot’s conversation flow. 

A chatbot conversation flow is a plan that describes in detail the interactions between the chatbot and the customers. At this point, we define the chatbot’s personality, tone of conversation and limitations. 

We also select the technology stack we’ll use to develop the chatbot, according to the chatbot features, number of users, which languages will be supported. 

3. Develop a prototype

After the customer approves the plan, we develop a  minimal viable product (MVP) as proof of concept (POC). This prototype, which has only the principal features, helps us test and refine the chatbot live. To achieve this, we gather the feedback of a key set of users that’ll test the product. 

4. Develop and debug

Based on the feedback from the MVP, we debug and finish the development of the final chatbot. 

Once we finish with the development, our newborn chatbot needs to get training. We train our AI chatbots on all possible use cases. 

5. Beta Testing

As part of our work process, we launch the chatbot in your company or with selected beta testers. Since no training is complete without testing, we test our chatbots for bugs or issues, fixing and refining until it’s perfect. 

6. Launch and maintenance

According to the requirements and the plan, we’ll launch the chatbot in the selected channels. Could be the customer website, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp business, and more. 

It is important to continue monitoring the performance of the chatbot for issues. Also to discover new queries or customer intents. At SCSS we use this information to further train the chatbot, include new features, or remove obsolete queries. 

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Despite all their benefits, chatbots are not perfect. They get better the more they train. Therefore, when planning your chatbot is important to avoid the following pitfalls:

High Expectations

Chatbots may talk in a humanized way, but they are not human. More often than not, customers and companies get frustrated with chatbots because we are setting unrealistic expectations. 

We talk about giving the chatbot a personality, maybe a name, and even a human appearance. While all these factors help the customers be more comfortable around the chatbot, it also reinforces the illusion that a chatbot is more than a computer program. 

A chatbot cannot assist exactly like a human, no matter how advanced. That is why it is important to define the limitations of the bot early in the conversation.  Setting the role of the chatbot as an agent that directs the user to possible solutions, or to a human agent, can help prevent potential disappointments. 

Missing the Human Interaction

Imagine you need to chat to your distant French cousin, but you don’t know French. Most people would use some kind of online translator to understand what he’s saying and answer accordingly. At the end of the conversation, you still don’t know the language. 

Chatbots act similarly, simulating a conversation, but they don’t actually understand what you’re talking about or what they’re saying. Machine learning helps AI bots to answer and even suggest what your next question may be. 

However advanced, chatbots cannot relate to human emotions, and empathy is an important part of customer service.   You want to avoid customer frustration as much as possible. Therefore, it is important to define which cases the bot should elevate.  

Interferes With UX

If you don’t design your chatbot right, it can actually disrupt customer experience instead of helping. Developers need to design carefully the conversation flow chart, guiding users through conversation naturally. 

The key to a successful conversation flow is to strike a balance on the number of steps on the conversation. You should match the chat length to the user case, asking the minimal number of questions needed to give an answer. Requests that are too complicated  put-off customers.  

Launching Too Late and Too Diversified

Sometimes companies miss the window of opportunity for their chatbot because they spend months adding all different possible queries their customers might ask. When they finally launch, they often find out customers ask different queries. 

In addition, often companies launch the chatbots in all channels at once. They would launch in Facebook Messenger, their website, and WhatsApp. This strategy doesn’t let them analyze the real effectiveness of the chatbot. At SCSS, we recommend launching in one channel first, analyzing the outcome and then expanding to other channels. 

12 Tips for a Great Chatbot Implementation

A successful chatbot should engage and help the customer achieve their intent. A fast and convenient response can cause happy customers that will come back to your site again. Yet, there are many factors you need to keep in mind to implement a successful chatbot. Here’s our list of the top 12 tips:

1. Understand Your Customer

The chatbot is about your customer experience. The more you identify with your customer, the more you can detect pain points in the chat flow.  Focus on the use-cases. What would you like to know if you were the customer? Design the chat to guide them to the outcome with the minimal steps possible. 

2. Choose Your Use Cases Carefully 

The specifics of your chatbot varies according to your industry and particular use-cases.For instance, insurance AI chatbots requirements differ from customer service bots. Try to identify which customers’ journeys are more critical and prioritize the ones you need to take care first. 

Simpler use cases such as customer service can tempt you to use a generic solution. However, your customer’s journey can range from a simple question to full shopping assistance.  A custom chatbot helps you give the closest answer to your customer’s query. 

3. Pick the Right Platform

Chatbot ecosystem and chatbot development channels

You should align your chatbot with the overall marketing strategy. Think about which channels you use more to communicate with your users. Set the bot on the platforms your visitors go to reach you. It can be on Facebook Messenger, Slack,  Kik, or right on your website. 

4. Build a Bot Persona (your Bot Needs Personality)

chabot personality

Your bot will be, to some extent, the “face” of your business. Therefore, it should match your brand style and voice. Your bot will talk to your customers on your behalf, so whether your brand has an informal style, your bot has to match that. 

Even better, you can create a persona for your bot. Create a character with a story and a script, you can add humor, quirks and witty replies. 

5. Have a Good Conversational Design

A chatbot is all about quality conversation. The most critical part of development is achieving a good conversational flow that goes with your chatbot strategy. Here are some pointers: 

  • Have your chatbot introduce itself at the start of a session. The message should be clear and define what the bot can do for the customer. A simple “Ask Bot” wouldn’t do. 
  • Be careful with the language and tone. Avoid gender or age-specific language. Open and vague questions can create confusion. 

Creating a dialog flow chart or tree can help you map potential user requests. To cover for missing answers, you can give the option to contact a human agent. This can prevent unanswered questions and customer frustration. 

6. Choose the Right Technology

The right stack of tools can make a difference on your project’s time and budget. There are simple DIY platforms that work with a Content Management System functionality. This enables you to draft a dialog and customize the interface. 

However, if you want your chatbot to have a natural dialog and “understand” your customers, you need to add Natural Language Processing capabilities. NLP engine examples include  Amazon Lex, Watson Conversation, LUIS.ai or API. ai. These AI engines help bots understand what your customer is saying in their natural language and give an appropriate answer.  

7. Train Your AI Early and Constantly

The earlier you train your bot, the better the outcome. At the start it is important to train the AI with the widest variation of customer phrases and cases. This can help the AI to identify customer intent. 

You could use historical data from other sources, such as a live chat, email, or your Facebook page comments. You can extract use-cases from there and train the NLP on different intents. 

8. Create a Prototype

  A Proof of Concept or MVP can save you money and time before investing in the full project. You can test the idea against early users, change or add features, change the design and interface. This ensures that when you deliver the finished product, it will fit the customers’ requirements. 

9. Have Fallback Procedures

However advanced a chatbot, it will fail sometimes to understand the question. It can be that the AI wasn’t trained for this particular case or because it is a new use case. It is important to have a “Plan B” for when this happens it will not put off the customer. Some ideas you can follow include:

  • Escalate the question- program the bot to escalate the intent, so you won’t lose the customer.
  • Enable Live Chat – this can help you transfer the issue to a live operator who can resolve the question. 
  • Follow-up via email or phone – although it is not an instant response, you can capture the email or phone and have a human agent follow up to solve the query. 

10. Let Your Visitors Know the Chatbot Capabilities and Limitations

If your customers know from the start what to expect from the bot, they will probably avoid asking irrelevant questions. You can have your bot stating right in the introduction what kind of service it gives. This simple tip can prevent disappointment and frustrated customers. 

11. Use Your Chatbot to Understand Your Customers

The chatbot is a great tool to learn about your customers. It gives you information about what are their pain points and what areas of your business you should prioritize. In customer service, the chatbot integrates with other systems to track orders and update customers. 

12. Promote Your Chatbot

Your customers should know your chatbot exists. Promoting it on social media channels, on your site, will encourage the customers to use it. When promoting the launch it is better to do a phased campaign so you don’t risk overwhelming the chat capabilities. To spread the voice you can:

  • add your chatbot link in your email signature
  • conduct social media campaigns
  • add the widget to your website key pages
  • announce the launch through press releases, newsletters, blog posts. 

Wrap Up

Installing a chatbot on your website is a fundamental change to improve your customer experience. It can increase conversions and promote customer loyalty. But only when done right. There are common pitfalls to avoid such as expecting the chatbot to know the answer to all questions, be human and smile. 

That being said, there are tips you can implement to have your chatbot increase your customer’s satisfaction by solving their queries. 

Key takeaways:

  • Focus on your customer
  • Invest time and effort to develop a good conversational flow
  • Choose the right technology stack and the right platform to install the bot.
  • A custom AI powered chatbot can be a game-changer. 

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