If you’ve ever visited a website and received a pop-up message asking if you had any questions, you’ve likely been exposed to a chatbot.
Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular — and for good reason. After all, who doesn’t like a convenient way to ask questions without searching through a website or having lengthy phone calls? These bots add so much convenience. And it’s not just about websites: they can be implemented into software, too!
That said, there are a few things you should consider before you decide to build one for your website. Here are my top five:
1. Your chatbot might infuriate your customers
I know. This sounds like a pretty odd way to start this list, but hear me out.
Consider the following scenario:
A customer arrives on your website and begins interacting with your chatbot. However, no matter how they phrase what they want, they don’t seem to get the appropriate response. What’s worse, it doesn’t offer any alternatives for getting the answer they need.
Out of sheer frustration, they leave your website and go to a competitor. Trust me, this situation is probably more common than you may assume. And that’s why I suggest that you ensure the following:
- When customers interact with the bot and their queries are complex, you should offer a way to put them in contact with a human representative.
- The bot’s responses should be self-sufficient and provide adequate detail.
- The bot should provide a list of things it can attend to so that customers understand its limitations.
Also, remember that a bot should not handle certain things. A human should instead handle situations that involve a lot of emotion, such as handling complaints.
2. Select the right programming language, architecture, and development platform
Of course, I need to briefly cover some technical considerations as these are paramount to the success or failure of your bot.
When it comes to programming languages, there are many that you can choose for developing your chatbot:
- Node JS
You’ll also have to select the appropriate architecture. For instance, narrow domains, such as doctor’s appointment bookings, need only a pattern-matching architecture.
Neural network architecture is more suitable for multiple services. This might include Reinforcement Learning Agents or Long Short-Term Memory (LSTMs).
When it comes to development platforms, well, there are quite a few that you could use.
Consider the following tried-and-tested options:
- IBM Watson
- Beep Boop
3. Use the power of notifications
Remember the pop-up message I mentioned in the introduction? Doing something like this will not only encourage users to make use of the chatbot, but it will also let them know that you have one.
But make sure to use notification sounds and pop-ups sparingly. Overuse can make your website appear “spammy” and deter people from using it.
Also, ensure your bot doesn’t “nudge” users who have left and re-entered your site on the same day. Use the power of notifications wisely, and you can make a great “ally” out of them.
An excellent notification strategy involves a single pop-up notification restricted to once a day, asking the user if they require assistance, and that, as a chatbot, it’s here to help.
4. Understand your bot’s capabilities
It’s important to consider whether a chatbot would meet the needs of your business.
Keep in mind that chatbots do very well with logical tasks. However, they may have a lot of limitations when it comes to complex human affairs. Some are also more limited than others, so it’s up to you to decide the right one for your website.
You may also implement chatbots for other purposes, such as for a program. In that case, you’ll also have to consider the needs of the type of person who’d use the software.
5. Is text enough?
Is text enough for your chatbot? Or do you need one with voice capabilities? Consider if your target consumers need a chatbot with that option because they don’t have the time to type text.
Another essential variable to consider is age. Younger people are more likely to prefer text over voice, so if that’s your target, you may do just fine without voice. Offering both options may also be a good idea.
Further, remember that if you allow voice inputs, you should ensure that your chatbot can understand particular accents or slang terms. However for global audiences, this may be tricky to attend to.
Take your time
While you might be tempted to join the hype as soon as possible, ensure you take your time building your chatbot. You need to do enough research to create the most appropriate chatbot for your users that not only meets their needs but doesn’t infuriate them either by being slow or difficult to use.
Also, ensure thorough testing and iteration during the development process. After all, you wouldn’t want to release something that has bugs or is incomplete.