A growing chatbot market with better software
The chatbot marketplace might not be too crowded yet but it soon will be. Companies of all sizes are beginning to recognize the value that chatbots offer and are rushing to deploy their own. If you want your chatbot to be noticed and used, it’s going to need to stand out. Here are ten things an effective chatbot will need to have.
Natural language processing
Without some good natural language processing power behind your chatbot, it won’t be able to understand what people are saying to it unless they use the exact wording you teach it to recognize. Human speech is complex and there are hundreds of ways to word the simplest sentences. So there’s lots of room for your chatbot to fail if it can’t determine meaning from syntax.
Chatbots are still new technology and many customers won’t think to reach out to your chatbot. Your chatbot is going to need the capacity to initiate conversations with customers, be an active participant in the conversation.
Your chatbot will need to have access to relevant information and may need to be able to assist customers with completing purchases depending on what you’re using it for. That means your chatbot will need to be integrated with social media platforms and ecommerce tools.
Simple, well-defined features
If you try to program a chatbot to do too many things, it will fail spectacularly at all of them. Chatbot programming is very complex so you’re better off developing a chatbot that handles only a few simple and well-defined tasks. At least at first. Later on you can add more features while ensuring that it doesn’t become less effective at doing what it was programmed to do initially.
Ability to deliver on promises
A chatbot that can’t do what you claim it can do is going to do more harm than good. If it fails at 50% of customer service interactions, it’s going to hurt your brand and tax your human customer service agents who will just have another thing people are calling in to complain about.
Think about how customer service interactions progress naturally with a human. You want to mimic that experience with your chatbot. You don’t want to overwhelm customers by having your chatbot present a list of options right up front. Instead you want it to ask the right questions and progress logically down a certain path to accurately help the customer.
You don’t want your chatbot to get stuck in a cycle. For instance, if your chatbot goes down the wrong path, either because of a mistake on the customer’s part or a failed attempt at natural language processing, you want it to be able to back up a step, or, if necessary, transfer the customer to a live agent that can assist over chat.
A good chatbot will keep improving over time. It will learn from failed interactions and begin to pick up on patterns so it can predict what a customer is getting at more quickly and provide faster assistance.
One of the trickiest things about programming a chatbot is programming it with a personality. Psychologists have been studying personality for more than a hundred years are no closer to understanding what it is and how it develops not to mention that everyone has different preferences when it comes to personality. Your goal should probably be a bot that’s pleasant and helpful but overall neutral in the personality department.
A chatbot is not something you set and forget. It will need constant monitoring and fine-tuning. By regularly releasing updates and optimizations for your chatbot, you’ll ensure that it gets better and better at assisting your customers.