Chatbots are often touted as the next must-have technology for businesses and governments around the globe. However, if they’re poorly developed, chatbots can be next to useless and most customers will go out of their way to avoid using them. So, what makes a good chatbot? Here, we take a look at 10 features that must be present if you’re to build the perfect chatbot.
1. A thorough understanding of an organisation’s customers/users
If you don’t understand what a customer wants from your organisation’s products or services, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to build a useful chatbot. A chatbot’s principal purpose is to streamline the customer experience and provide them with an accessible and easy to use tool for completing tasks that no longer require a human agent. If you don’t understand how your customers behave, what they want, or how they interact with your business, developing a chatbot that responds to their needs will be nearly impossible.
2. Room for improvement
A great chatbot isn’t the finished product at the time of launch. In fact, the perfect chatbot will be given space to learn and improve its customer service provision. Once launched, developers should be looking at how interactions are progressing, where mistake are occurring, and how the technology could be bettered. There’s always room for improvement when it comes to the customer experience and those responsible for a chatbot should ensure it remains relevant by constantly looking for ways to update its scripts, reactions, and responses.
3. A well-defined and specific purpose
Trying to do too much is one of the biggest mistakes a chatbot developer can make. In order to function as they should, chatbots need to be given a specific purpose and then programmed to excel in this one department. If you expand the chatbot’s purview too far, there’s a greater scope for errors and a higher chance of the chatbot disappointing users and putting them off interacting with it again.
4. It fixes a problem or targets a particular pain point
Chatbots work best when they’re designed to tackle a particular problem. It’s often the case that businesses look to develop a chatbot because they’re the next big thing. When this happens, the chatbot is usually rendered ineffective by a lack of user uptake or poor performance. If the chatbot isn’t meeting a particular need or solving a specific problem, getting people to use it is going to be an uphill struggle.
Be simpler and faster than any other option
There’s no need to develop a chatbot if a human agent or different technology could do the job just as quickly. If there’s a simpler way of resolving an issue than interacting with a chatbot, organisations should pursue it. Chatbots are designed to make processes more efficient for the user and to relieve human agents of menial tasks – they don’t exist because users enjoy talking to AI. Before you begin development, ask yourself whether a chatbot is the most efficient way of resolving the issue at hand. If it’s not, don’t make a foolish investment.
6. It mimics human conversation
When engaging with a user, chatbot conversation should attempt to mimic human interactions as closely as possible. One of the key appeals of the technology is that customers can request information and complete tasks in a way that feels completely natural. This means the perfect chatbot will try to recreate the flow of human conversation, will respond in ways that don’t immediately differentiate it from human agents, and will often incorporate ticks, foibles or traits that make it appear more human.
7. An easy to use interface
Chatbots are about ease of use. If they’re not accessible, simple to use, and quick to navigate, customers won’t enjoy using them and are likely to cease interacting with them. An important part of developing an easy to use chatbot is getting the user interface right. Though developers should always prize functionality over aesthetics, a clean and simple interface can lend a chatbot personality, character, and charm. For this reason, anyone building a chatbot should pay particular attention to how the technology is presented to users.
8. It retains important user information
One of the keys in which a great chatbot differentiates itself from the rest is by allowing customers to pick up their interactions where they left off. Most users begrudge having to enter the same information time and time again just to submit a simple query, so any chatbot that’s able to retain details of the customer’s previous interactions is fulfilling its intended purpose of streamlining the user experience.
9. It gathers data as well as dispensing information
Chatbots are incredibly useful data gathering tools and are expected to become a key means of collecting user information in the future. Due to the fact that they’re designed to be one of the first ports of call for any user with a problem, they’ll often need to request certain information in order to resolve an issue. A great chatbot won’t appear invasive by asking for too much detail, but will mine and store large amounts of relevant data for future use by their owner.
10. Integrated into an accessible platform
There’s absolutely no point in developing a highly efficient chatbot that’s able to mimic human conversation to an incredibly high standard if people can’t use it. This means that identifying a suitable platform for your chatbot is essential. While a large number of chatbots are now operating on Facebook Messenger, an increasing number of platforms are likely to emerge in the future. For instance, when WhatsApp eventually opens its service to chatbots, it could very easily become the principal chatbot platform.
Though chatbots are relatively new pieces of technology, it’s clear that there’s plenty of advice regarding what is required if you’re to design one well. Key to the process is a through understanding of the chatbot’s purpose and how users are likely to interact with it. Without this basic knowledge, it’s difficult to build a chatbot that mimics natural human conversation, satisfies customers, and provides its business with a useful point of contact.
Have a question or want further information on creating the perfect chatbot? Our expert team have been providing customer contact solutions for over 25 years. Call us on 01344 706111 or drop us a line.