Every organisation interacts with its customers in a unique way. While general rules and best-practice guidance can be applied to help improve user retention, it’s not until you get stuck into the details that you’ll see a real upswing in retention figures.
This means that you need to develop a comprehensive understanding of who your customers are and how they interact with your chatbot. More specifically, you need to study those customers that return to use your chatbot time and time again and ask why they do so.
In many cases, the reason users engage with your chatbot will not always correspond with the reason it was built. Though we typically design technology to fulfil a specific function, users will always use it in a way that best suits them.
By studying the behaviour of those who do repeatedly engage with your chatbot, you may find that the technology is being adapted to uses you hadn’t originally conceived of. If so, you can adjust the way you present the technology to encourage more users to engage with it in this way, increasing user retention in the process.
The easiest way to achieve this is via the use of conversational analytics. Most chatbot platforms will provide you with basic analysis functions, though to get the most from your chatbot you may want to request an expert analysis from chatbot specialists. These analytics platforms allow you to monitor both engaged customers and those that quickly navigate away, providing you with insight as to how you can improve your bot.
As chatbots are an evolving technology, they require constant refinement – comprehensive analytics is often taken for granted but it’s a key way of keeping your bot relevant.
The phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none,” is certainly applicable to chatbot design. If you try and do too much with your bot, you’ll find that it’s unable to perform key tasks to a standard that satisfies users and that they don’t return to use the technology.
Instead, identify your bot’s USP and ensure that it excels in its chosen specialism. Though this may slightly limit the total number of customers who engage with your chatbot, it will increase resolution and retention rates amongst those users who do
One of chatbots’ major strengths is their ability to interact quickly and naturally with users in a conversational manner. By replicating conversation, they’re able to mask the power of automating technology behind a more empathetic and human face, making users feel comfortable whilst also delivering improved, 24/7 customer service and easing the pressure on human agents.
However, getting that conversational tone right isn’t easy. Get it wrong and your chatbot will struggle to retain users. In fact, they’ll turn away in their droves.
Improving your chatbot’s conversational capabilities typically requires the expertise of specialists with experience of chatbot scripts. However, there are several things you can do for a superior chatbot experience.
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that walls of text are extremely off-putting for users. Conversations are typically a two-way thing – a dialogue – and chatbots need to reflect that fact. Users will not return to use your chatbot if, each time they do so, they’re presented with large bodies of text.
Secondly, the experience of interacting with a chatbot can be improved by integrating aspects of real human conversation into its scripts. We’re now accustomed to communicating through text-based channels and have developed a specific set of behaviours associated with this type of messaging.
For instance, emojis, GIFs and memes are now commonplace conversational tools. If these can be successfully integrated into a script that also makes use of other desirable conversational traits, such as humour, you’ll go a long way to improving your retention rate. Knowing your customer means knowing the engagement style required.
Presented with an opportunity to say absolutely anything they want, users often do nothing. This is due to the way in which we’re often overwhelmed when offered too many choices. With chatbots, this is problematic – if users aren’t aware of what the chatbot is capable of, they’re not going to spend their time trying to find out. Modern users are impatient, if solutions aren’t immediately forthcoming, we’ll quickly navigate away from a page and we’re not likely to return.
This means that chatbots need to provide users with some idea as to what they’re capable of. Without telling them what to do, your chatbot needs to guide the user through early interactions. This can be achieved in two different ways:
- Via on-screen buttons – Short, scripted questions that users can click on to submit are one way of guiding users. However, this only works if the questions are brief and few in number. Otherwise, they’ll simply clog up the chatbot interface.
- Dialogue prompts – This is a good way of advising users on what your chatbot is capable of, as it integrates the guidance into the natural flow of conversation.
Finally, it’s important to recognise that some chatbot applications shouldn’t have their success measured by their ability to retain users. This is an important consideration when you’ve designed a chatbot that will be used irregularly or for one-off purposes.
In fact, making changes in this way is likely to negatively impact your chatbot’s performance. As such, it’s a good idea to determine whether user retention is a relevant and useful metric for your chatbot, before using it to justify changes to the bot.
User retention can be a tricky issue for those who have invested in chatbot technology. Fortunately, it’s a problem that’s fairly easy to rectify. While the five steps discussed above are a good place to start, chatbot professionals, such as Inform, will also be able to provide you with considerable insight into how to improve your service and increase retention rates.