6 tips for building compelling chatbots (even if you’re not a programmer)

Building a chatbot may seem like a challenging feat for any brand or business. You may think you need a certain level of programming expertise, or a sizable bot budget. Don’t let artificially intelligent looks deceive you, because launching your very own compelling chatbot is doable, even if you’re not a programmer.

Ever since Facebook Messenger, Kik, Slack, and other messaging platforms gave branded chatbots a digital home, many agree that the bot revolution is now upon us.

From sharing economy bots to banking bots, the AI floodgates are open. Chances are, you have already interacted with a bot more than once, and you didn’t even know it.

In fact, by the year 2020 you will have had more conversations with chatbots than you will have had with your significant other.

“With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and conversational user interfaces, we are increasingly likely to interact with a bot (and not know it) than ever before,” explained Heather Pemberton Levy of Gartner.

Big consumer brands have been quick to adopt bot technology as a way to interact and convert more customers via in-app chats. Why the early adoption?

According to a survey by Facebook, their Messenger users are 50 percent more likely to make a purchase from a brand if they can chat with them. Well, at least chat with their AI chatbot.

Branded AI chatbots currently making customer connections

Branded chatbots are all over every messaging platform, and you may have a few bots you already frequent regularly. In fact, AI powered bots can serve as your brand or business’ most valuable ambassador.

Bots can bond with your customers in a very effective way, often more so than your human support or sales representatives. The layers of neural networking allow them to store customer information and key data needed to offer timely support and suggestions.

From ride sharing to travel, here are a few AI chatbots currently in service:

Uber ride share bots

Did you know you could request an Uber without leaving your Facebook Messenger conversation? Uber wanted to make the ride share economy even more seamless by letting their users access an Uber without switching apps.

“Powered by Uber’s API, Messenger now enables its millions of users to sign up for Uber with one tap and request a ride, all without having to leave Messenger or downloading the Uber app,” Uber announced in a press release.

Capital One Eno bot

Eno, Capital One’s chatbot is also quite innovative, offering a seamless experience for the bank’s account holders. In fact, Eno is the first U.S. banking bot. You can get account information like recent transactions, your balance, and process payments. Eno bot users can even access banking information by using emojis.

“That means you’ll be able to ask Eno to check your account and card balances, pay bills, and get other account and card history and info,” said 9to5Mac.

Kayak travel bot

Kayak is among many travel companies that are using AI technology to connect with customers in a meaningful way. The aim of the Kayak travel bot is to make choosing and booking your next destination as seamless as possible.

For example, if you have a specific budget in mind, you can tell the Kayak chatbot how much you’re willing to spend on your next vacation and it will display a number of options.

Why chatbots are worthy of your attention

Why does this any of this AI stuff matter for your brand, business, or startup? Well, one big driving statistic to support launching a branded bot is that more than 2.5 billion people have and use at least one messaging app. That is one-third of the world’s population.

If the above data is tried and true, it is unthinkable not to leverage AI chatbots for your brand or business.

The bots of today are actually quite simplistic when you really strip them down to their basic purpose. They are available 24/7 to answer consumer questions, provide assistance, and perform tasks, whether it is upselling, checking a customer out, or processing banking information.

Beneath what we see, however, are layers upon layers of neural networks, machine learning innovation, and detailed programming. This is what makes branded chatbots artificially intelligent, and what makes many brands and businesses confused about building one of their own.

The value chatbots provide to brands and businesses looking toward future growth and success are absolutely undeniable. The good news is that you can have a bot of your very own.

Here are six tips for building your branded chatbot, even if you’re not a programmer.

1. Make your chatbot accessible

You can build the best, most innovative chatbot in existence, but if it isn’t easily accessible, the bot effort will fall short of expectations. Uber is a great example of making a bot very accessible. If you are planning to meet a friend at a restaurant using Facebook Messenger, the Uber bot will pop up and ask you if you need a ride.

Your customers shouldn’t have to switch apps to use your chatbot. Pay very close attention to the social channels your customers’ use. For example, if your brand or business has solutions for working professionals, building a bot for Slack would be best, since that is a messaging platform for workers.

A few chatbot platforms for non-programmer brands and businesses are . . .

  • Chatfuel is for not so tech-minded developers who want to launch a chatbot on Twitter, YouTube, or JSON. Its interface is easy to use and you can get a bot up and running in less than 30 minutes.
  • ChattyPeople is great for anyone who lacks coding skills. It is geared more for ecommerce and has easy integration with Facebook.
  • Botsify lets you develop a chatbot for Facebook and a number of other messaging platforms. It has an easy to use drag and drop interface that non-programmers can use to develop a bot quickly.

2. Decide what information your bot will gather

It is very important to set goals for your chatbot when programming it. These rules, or guidelines are often based upon what information you want your bot to learn and store about your customers.

The very nature of chatbots is to gain more information over time, so keep that in mind when developing one of your very own. The insights about your customers can help you with segmented marketing campaigns, recommend products and services, and upsell, to name a few benefits.

Key insights your chatbot can gather include:

  • Your customers’ zip codes for location based services and recommendations.
  • Shopping preferences and reviews of past purchases for bots to find new ways to interact with customers in a meaningful way.
  • Likes and dislikes for food, exercise, clothing, movies, etc. to assist in future promotions and offers.

3. Make your bot artificially intelligent

This may seem like an obvious tip, considering the nature of chatbots, but many brands and businesses miss the mark when developing their branded bot. A slight oversight of an efficient use of your bot could cost down the road.

Do you have small tasks you pay someone to do? If you have a mobile app, for example, perhaps you can have a chatbot available to answer questions that users have about your app.  This will help you improve app downloads and, ultimately, revenue.

Think about all the customer support tasks you can easily automate, and then program your chatbot to do them. In fact, chatbots can reduce customer support costs by 30 percent.

These tasks, however, should be highly focused when programming your bot to do them to ensure it can accomplish the tasks in a very easy way.

4. Replace apps and app upgrades with bots

Artificial intelligence is reshaping how people interact with brands and businesses. AI is also reshaping how brands and businesses approach the future when it comes to marketing.

Chatbots may even replace apps. There is no denying that mobile use will continue to rise, and users want a more unified interface. Why download multiple apps for various services when you can have them all at your fingertips via messaging platforms?

“In fact all mobile apps and websites are just a collection of information. All this can be packaged into a single messaging app where a chatbot can offer all the services,” according to Chatbot’s Life.

A few key app vs. chatbot questions to ask are . . .

  • Can a chatbot replace your app?
  • Is your website information implemented into your bot?
  • For new products and services, can you use a chatbot instead of updating your app?
  • Can your chatbot provide purchasing options rather than your app?
  • What are the cost differences between developing an app vs. building a bot?

5. Make your bot approachable

One of the most appealing aspects of having a branded bot of your own is that customers often don’t know they are chatting with a chatbot. This is because brands and businesses want their bot to be as approachable and humanlike as possible.

Offering a sense of comfort and familiarity when interacting with your brand or business is key. You want your customers to converse with your bot, get the answers they need, make the purchases they want, and have an overall positive experience.

Program your bot to talk the way your target audiences do, so they can quickly/and easily relate as if they were connecting to a human.

Make your chatbot as inviting and human as possible by:

  • Creating an inviting and effective message that speaks to your brand.
  • Having a seamless way for users to begin interacting with your bot, like a “Let’s Begin” CTA button.
  • Greeting your customers using their name, or other information your bot may have collected about them from previous interactions.
  • Having buttons on your social media networks and website for customers to easily access your bot.

6. Ensure there is a natural conversation flow

Chatbots are supposed to be conversational, so ensuring your bot knows how to hold a natural conversation is essential. This makes your customers feel more comfortable when interacting with your bot, and it also allows you to gather more information about your customers.

When building your chatbot, even if you’re not a programmer, it is important to keep in mind your bot’s primary goals. It could be to drive sales, or it could serve as support for questions and comments. In any case, program your bot to do its proposed actions in a conversational way.

Here are a few tips to make your chatbot more conversational:

  • Program your bot to mimic natural language flow. This will make the question and answers between your bot and customer flow more efficiently. Yes, this can even include programming some misspellings into your bots’ responses!
  • Let your chatbot be smart when conversing with customers. Programming it to use simple terminology your customers will understand can easily facilitate a better user experience.
  • Don’t let your bot overwhelm customers with all its innovative AI features at once. By programming your chatbot to let the conversation flow naturally, it can reveal its features with time, and as needed.

The chatbot revolution is upon us, and having a bot to converse with your customers online is key to your brand or business’ future growth and success.

No programming skills, no problem. There are plenty of ways you can easily develop and launch an artificially intelligent chatbot of your very own.

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