If you really want to drive customer engagement, learning how to create a chatbot is a great place to start.
According to Dmitriy Kachin, COO of Chatfuel, strong chatbot experiences with higher audience engagement register 80–90% response rates. This result shows that users are willing to use chatbots, but the experience still needs to be properly executed to meet their needs.
Building a chatbot completely from scratch using custom code takes a lot of time and resources that many businesses simply don’t have. Lucky for you, we’ve broken down a step-by-step process for quickly and cost-effectively building a chatbot — no coding experience necessary.
Step 1: Define the Goal of Your Chatbot
Before you actually start building your chatbot, you need to set a clearly defined goal for it. The type of chatbot you build will depend on what you want it to accomplish.
Goal Example 1: Handle a Portion of Incoming Customer Support Questions
Want to make life a little easier for your hardworking support staff? Use a chatbot to resolve simple inquiries so your staff can focus on more complex issues that require extra attention and detail.
If this sounds like your objective, build a chatbot that can answer common FAQs, set up calls and appointments, and even run brief tutorials. Getting your chatbot to help with these types of tasks will cut down on resources needed to run your business.
Goal Example 2: Teach Users about Product-Related Topics
As customers, we’ve all been in situations where we’re interested in a particular product or service but don’t fully comprehend how it works. Set your chatbot up to inform users about different topics related to your business, such as product tutorials and other industry-specific processes.
Users should be able to engage with your chatbot and utilize it as a 24-hour resource so they can get the answers they need whenever they want. Getting your chatbot to serve as a subject matter expert for users can go a long way toward building trust and engaging them.
Goal Example 3: Entertain Users
One of the best ways to drive customer engagement is to simply entertain them, so consider designing your chatbot to share fun and light-hearted content with users. Set up your chatbot to offer games or share content that will delight users.
That said, your chatbot needs to tie back to the brand, product, or service you’re trying to promote. For example, chatbot development agency Massively built a bot specifically designed to interact with fans of the TV show Pretty Little Liars. For your building efforts to be worthwhile, the connection between your chatbot and brand should be clear.
Step 2: Choose Channels for Your Chatbot
When they were first conceived, chatbots were generally hosted on company websites and Facebook. Now, you can deploy a chatbot through a number of different channels.
Your website is possibly the most obvious channel to deploy your chatbot. People visiting your website are usually eager to learn about your product, so they’ll likely find a knowledgeable chatbot helpful. Use the chatbot to encourage visitors to stay on your website, explore products, and potentially make a purchase.
Source: Kayak Facebook Page
Some of the most popular places to deploy chatbots, especially in recent years, have become messaging apps.
Facebook Messenger chatbots are a great way to build user trust through your Facebook company page before directing them to your website or setting up a product or service call or demo. A Facebook Messenger interaction is a less salesly format than suddenly being inundated with promotional bot messages on a company website.
Other options include messaging apps such as Kik and Slack. Both of these platforms come with their distinct advantages when it comes to chatbots. Kik chatbots are generally more fun and entertaining, while Slack chatbots are mostly designed to help streamline workflow.
Google Business Messages
Some businesses now offer the ability to speak with a chatbot directly through their Google My Business page. This chatbot is built to be deployed when you click on a business page result in a Google search.
This type of chatbot is the ultimate convenience for customers searching for your brand who want information right away without having to jump to your site. Users can interact directly with the Google chatbot to quickly grab information, such as where stores are located and what hours those stores are open.
Step 3: Design a Chatbot Conversation
The very best chatbots tell a user they’re a chatbot, but make you feel as if you’re interacting with a real person. Keeping the main goal of your chatbot and channel in mind, create a natural script that serves as a conversation between the chatbot and user.
Anticipate Questions Based on FAQs
When a user interacts with a chatbot, they could ask any number of questions. Your chatbot shouldn’t try to answer every possible query (that would be very resource-intensive, and likely create a poor experience). Instead, you want to prep your chatbot to answer your customers’ most common questions.
Say, for example, you offer video marketing software, and many users ask how to upload videos to your platform. In this case, you would create intents that match common utterances a user may type in order to ask about uploading videos, and offer instructions for completing the task.
Tell Users What Questions They Can Ask
Chatbots that can answer any open-ended question are very complex to build. They require a ton of time and effort to execute. It’s almost impossible to anticipate every kind of user question that will potentially come your chatbot’s way.
With that in mind, the chatbot should always set expectations about what it can answer. Many chatbots do this by giving users options to click, or otherwise making it clear what they can and cannot answer. Designing your conversations this way can save your team a lot of time, and your customers a lot of potential headaches.
Use Clear, Friendly Language in Responses
Ideally, the conversation with a chatbot should mimic what it’s like to talk to a helpful brand representative. If your chatbot is a customer service chatbot, for example, think of the type of support and guidance the best customer service reps at your business offer, and try your best to emulate that in the chatbot.
One way to get started crafting a chatbot conversation is to sit down with a representative from your business and role play different conversations. Think of common questions a customer or prospective customer may ask, and record their answers. Transcribe the script, keeping in mind that you want to infuse some personality into your chatbot while still keeping it in line with how you want your brand to be represented.
Set the Bot to Redirect Complex Queries
Not every question that comes your chatbot’s way will require a simple response. To accommodate complex questions, you can set your chatbot to direct the user to a customer support or sales rep.
There are different ways a chatbot can do this. It can respond by saying it will connect the customer with a live customer rep as soon as one is available. If you have the capability, the chatbot can transfer the user to another live chat with a rep. You can even set up the chatbot to have a rep call the user in a certain timeframe to discuss further.
Step 4: Select a Chatbot Builder
Now that you’ve got all your pieces in place, it’s time to actually build your chatbot. Using a chatbot builder streamlines the creation process, especially if you don’t have any prior coding experience. Here are some easy-to-use options to help get you started.
- Price: Full plans start at $15/month; a free plan is available
- Typical set-up time: Under an hour
- Best for: Facebook Messenger, Instagram
- Price: Full plans start at $49/month; no free plan is available, but a 14-day free trial is offered
- Typical set-up time: Under an hour
- Best for: Website, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS
- Price: Full plans start at $10/month; a free plan is available
- Typical set-up time: Under an hour
- Best for: Facebook Messenger, SMS, Shopify
Test and Adjust Your Chatbot Over Time
A chatbot is just like any other marketing and sales initiative — it requires constant revaluation. Regularly note what type of inquiries your chatbot is consistently seeing and how effective it is at fielding those inquiries. The chatbot builders listed above each have analysis capabilities to give you insight into different metrics you can track to measure success. As time goes on, you’ll need to adjust your chatbot to stay up-to-date with current needs of your customers and prospects.