Chatbots have grown from being predominantly text-based interfaces to very personable interactive assistants in recent years. As a society we have grown used to utilising a chat bot over say, being in a queue on the phone or making a call / email enquiry to a business.
Chatbots are software applications that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to manage a humans communication expectations, providing the relevant information to bring the human to their desired outcome in a quick and fully automated way like a virtual assistant if you will.
A chatbot’s value lies in its ability to handle high volumes of repetitive tasks, freeing up more experienced agents to handle complex queries and sensitive issues that require human interaction. In the Contact Centre world for instance the chatbot can provide a layer of scrutiny and evaluate a customer query and possibly resolve it before it ever hits the agent saving time and resource and ultimately increasing customer satisfaction.
The key driver for chatbot integration should be clearly identified before you begin your Chatbot journey, for instance within a Contact Centre environment the key driver would surely be to automate and scale consumer interactions whilst reducing first call resolution times, without hiring hundreds of contact centre staff.
A chatbot should provide several answers to key touchpoints on the Customer Journey and;
- Enable the conversant to find simple answers to questions via pre-formatted responses
- Utilise integrations to enable Omni-Channel connectivity and multiple ways of solving a customer problem
- Take payments
- Trigger content to enhance the customer experience
- Provide a clear audit trail of the conversations and interactions that take place
- Use existing conversation data where available to understand the type of questions people ask.
- Use NLP & Machine Learning to better understand context and provide better more complex answers in the future
The design and build process for a typical chatbot can be split into six key areas ;
Define – What will your chatbot do? What problems will it solve?
Flow Design – What interactions will your chatbot facilitate? What integrations will it require? What information will it need access to?
Design – Integrations (third party or otherwise) – depending on the flow and requirements of the bot, you will need to integrate third party options like payments, appointment services, CRM etc…
Design – Conversation and aesthetics – what tone will the chatbot take? What basic greetings? How will it balance between text and rich media when responding to a query?
Prototype – Build a prototype and test your conversational skills
Data Integration – Your Chatbot needs feeding to enable any machine learning functions to begin to understand more about the response classifications and word intent etc.. think of this as “training” for your chatbot.
UAT – User testing obviously… ask questions in ways that you wouldn’t normally expect and test your bot responses.
Implement – Create a full implementation plan that includes APIs, back end, connecting systems and database integration.
Whatever your reasons for employing chatbot technology in your customer flow, make sure that the flows you build enable the bot to talk to your other internal systems. To get the most out of the technology you need to make sure it fits into your multi channel communication strategy.
One bot to rule them all.. so to speak..
Automated, efficient, integrated Chatbots make sticky appendages to your marketing & communications strategy not only to keep users engaged but to solve problems and allow customers to get answers and resolve issues quicker.
However people won’t stay “sticky” because they love interacting with your bot, it will be because the bot has saved them time spent talking to people. The nirvana of a bot experience is to save customer time and increase efficiencies both in dealing with your end customer issues and internally within your business in reducing talk time, agent times dealing with customers and automating tasks that would otherwise cost you time and money to employ a human whilst acting as an enabler for your other marketing and communication channels.
If you would like advice on your chat bot strategy, or help in understanding what bots can do for your business, then give me a call.