What does it take to build a chatbot that really works?

posted by Digital Group on 6th July 2019

If there’s one buzzword which has dominated the digital space over recent months, it’s automation – and leading that conversation is the topic of chat bots. Set to become a 3 billion US dollar industry by 2021, the world of chatbots is growing fast, with analysts predicting that almost 80% of businesses will deploy a chat bot in the coming years. 

Put simply, a chatbot is a web-based app which mimics a conversation with a human being – usually to answer basic questions in customer service or sales settings. Chatbots can be used in a wide array of industries for a multitude of purposes, with their primary goal being to reduce the workload of the company’s “real” team. There are two main types of chatbots available: AI-based and rule-based. The AI-based chatbot responds to users via machine learning, whereby their interactions are stored and learned-from, meaning that their responses improve over time. The more common chatbot you’ll find is the rule-based chatbot, which essentially matches queries with responses by parsing language, querying databases, and delivering relevant responses – a bit like smart assistants such as Siri and Alexa.

So, from a business perspective, what are the ingredients of an effective chatbot? Let’s find out. 

1. A well-defined purpose

For a chatbot to perform optimally, it’s important that you define its purpose in detail. Will it solve customer service queries? Or will it help guide visitors around your website? Without a clearly set out goal, any chatbot will fail to engage with users. To remedy this, it’s vital that you decide exactly what your chatbot will do and, perhaps more importantly, what it won’t do.

2. Technical expertise for deployment

It may, at first glance, seem like implementing a chatbot is a simple case of adding a few lines of code to your website. Sadly, it’s much more complex than this – and thinking it’s easy can quickly lead to a poorly implemented chatbot which simply doesn’t work well. In order to maximise the chance of your chatbot being genuinely helpful, be sure to leverage the technical expertise required to do it.

3. The right choice of chatbot platform

It’s very rare for a chatbot to be a completely custom build, which means you’ll need to decide which chatbot platform is right for you. There are several available, including Chatfield, Botsify, and Flow Xo. Which one is right for you will depend on your specific needs, but you should primarily look for a platform which offers ML capability, multiple integrations, API support, and solid workflow management. 

4. Comprehensive API integrations

A chatbot is often the gatekeeper to many other resources and systems in a company’s infrastructure, which means it’ll need to communicate. An effective and helpful chatbot should be able to communicate with all of the platforms your business uses – and this means API integration is essential. This could be your Knowledge Base, a CRM system, or an external system, but this API capability is critical. 

5. A deep repository of knowledge to call upon

Last but not least, consider the one thing that all chatbots need: knowledge. After all, users engage with a chatbot in order to find answers to their questions, so without a repository of data, a chatbot will be pretty useless. The knowledge a chatbot can access needs to be relevant and easily searchable so that users will be satisfied with the responses they receive.

So, there you have it: the A to Z of chatbots. With so many businesses evolving their digital automation, the only question is – when will you deploy your chatbot? To discuss this more, get in touch with our friendly team today.