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Nov 26,2021

From local family businesses to international businesses of all sizes, they are all taking advantage of a new way to grow their support teams without increasing headcount. How do they do it? They adopt chatbots, applications that initiate conversations similar to those between humans, to provide identical ongoing support to customers and employees.

Interacting with chatbots is straightforward, as they use AI and natural language processing to chat with users through text, voice, and images. A conversational chatbot can quickly become one of your flagship players. Whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., when your customers ask questions, a chatbot, which works 24/7, helps them answer their queries, thus increasing engagement and loyalty compared to the brand.

Human team members also benefit since they can use the time previously spent on customer support tasks for more complex, high-value work. When you deploy chatbots internally, your employees can use them to get their questions answered quickly.

All of these benefits improve your bottom line. The happier customers and employees are, the shorter your sales cycle, the lower customer support costs, and the engaged and productive workforce. Thanks to the data that your new chatbot captures, you also benefit from a unique possibility to analyze users’ behaviors and potential visitors.

Chatbots are changing the way you do business.

Across industries, chatbots are helping organizations reinvent how they can break down barriers and better serve their customers and employees – all at scale.

For example, a retailer can use a chatbot to notify customers of store locations, hours of operation, current promotions, and return policies. That same retailer can also connect a chatbot to their internal systems to simplify HR tasks and help employees submit time-off requests, log hours, or verify benefits.

But retailers aren’t the only ones who can take advantage of chatbots. Organizations in the financial services, education, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, travel, and hospitality industries are also significant users of chatbots. So, whether you want to streamline processes for customers needing a new insurance policy or planning a dental cleaning, creating a chatbot can have an immediate impact on customers, employees, and your business.

Chatbot Development: Start by Defining Your Goals

Creating a chatbot is not as daunting as it used to be, where only highly skilled data scientists or developers could make it. Right now, creating a chatbot has become much easier thanks to software and development platforms with little or no code.

But before you move on to developing chatbots, you need to know precisely why you are doing it. The first and most essential step in developing chatbots is to identify your goals. So be prepared to flesh out and document your answers to the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of my chatbot?
  • What functions should my chatbot be able to perform?
  • Who is my target audience, and how will the chatbot help them?
  • Will the chatbot support an app, website, or messaging platform?
  • Will the chatbot use voice, text, or images to communicate?

Recommendations for developing your chatbot

Developing chatbots can take as little as a few minutes or up to several months. It depends on the complexity of your chatbot, your organization in the process, and the methods you choose to create your chatbot.

Take into account the recommendations to accelerate development and ensure a positive return on investment:

  • Define your goals. Use your answers to the previous questions to make sure your chatbot’s goals are clear, match your overall business line, and are accepted by everyone involved.
  • Pick a personality. Personality is important. So make sure your chatbot has one and pay particular attention to ensuring that their opinion and tone are in line with your overall brand.
  • Collect content. Create a list of frequently asked questions from customers or employees to decide which trigger phrases your chatbot should recognize.
  • Determine the connections. Take a look at the systems, services, or applications you want your chatbot to be connected to, for example, business resource planning, customer relationship management, or e-commerce.
  • Don’t think too big, to begin with. To get started, consider limiting the number of connections and deploying the chatbot to a single channel, like your website, Microsoft Teams, or Facebook.
  • Create smart. The development of a chatbot can be simplified by the use of software or the help of a qualified partner. So study the options available to you before determining how you are going to create them.
  • Stay relevant. Keeping your chatbot up to date with relevant information should be one of your top priorities if you want your customers and employees to trust it to get the answers they need.

Pay attention to chatbot challenges.

Familiarize yourself with common chatbot development challenges or mistakes that might arise. By preparing in advance, you can avoid many obstacles before they arise.

Avoid common pitfalls, such as:

  • Pretend that your chatbot is human.
  • Most users will be aware that they are talking to a chatbot. So be sure to incorporate a scripted presentation that is candid and lets users know how the chatbot can help them. Likewise, decide on clues that will let the chatbot know it’s time to seek help from a human.
  • To skimp on security.
  • Your chatbot represents new opportunities for online mischief, so protecting the chatbot (and the data your customers put into it) is paramount. Make sure your chatbot includes robust security features that protect your business and help you meet compliance requirements.
  • Ignore data.
  • Your chatbot will collect and produce large amounts of data. Don’t waste this valuable information. Choose who will collect your chatbot results to analyze performance and issues, as well as any new topics or tasks to add to the chatbot.

Software 101 for chatbots

Chatbot platforms and software with little or no code are growing in popularity as they provide business users with all the tools they need to quickly build versatile chatbots without the need for IT.

Most chatbot software offerings feature an intuitive graphical interface that removes the complexity of developing AI-based chatbots, making it possible to create a chatbot without writing a single line of code. You can use the software to customize your chatbot, connect it to your internal or external systems and services, and deploy the chatbot across multiple channels.

However, some chatbot software has drawbacks. While most help you build a chatbot faster and more affordably than developing it one line of code at a time, some offerings lack essential features, such as connecting to third-party applications and systems, access protection, or monitoring and analysis.

Main considerations for choosing chatbot software

Selecting the right software is essential to building a chatbot that meets your goals. Consider the following criteria.

Ease of use

  • Is the software offered as a service, or do you have to rely on IT for installation and updates?
  • Can business users or subject matter specialists easily use the software?

Connections and Channels

  • Can the chatbot connect to your internal or third-party systems and services?
  • Can you deploy the chatbot across different channels, such as websites, apps, and messaging platforms?

Creation and customizations

  • Does the software support accessibility features, multiple languages, and the ability to control the flow of conversations and interactions between topics?
  • Is the software flexible enough to allow you to customize the chatbot for your company’s brand and opinion?

Monitoring and analysis

  • Does the software include analytics to identify chatbot performance, customer satisfaction levels, and topic usage?
  • Can you quickly change the chatbot based on the results?

Security and compliance

  • Does the software offer authentication, web channel security, single sign-on, or any other functionality to enhance security?
  • Can the software help you meet certification criteria and meet compliance requirements?

Advanced scenarios

  • Does the software provide options to extend your chatbot with code?
  • Is chatbot development limited to software functionality?

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