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How to Build a Business Chatbot for SME Owners

Over the past few weeks we’ve been taking a look at chatbots and the benefits they offer small to medium businesses.  They can provide your customers and prospects with a great way of getting an answer from a virtual customer service agent on a round the clock basis.  As we explained last week, there are plenty of online platforms that enable you to build a chatbot for your business website easily, so today we’re going to take a look at best practice to follow when creating your chatbot.

  • Define your Goals – do you want to resolve customer service issues, promote new products, or generate leads?  Do you need chatbots on your social networks to keep up with the number of messages you receive?  Think carefully about what you want to accomplish with a chatbot as you being to build out the experience.
  • Understand the platform – your chat conversations will be different, depending on where they take place, whether on your website, Facebook Messenger or Twitter Direct Message. 
  • Content strategy – you need to decide what content you want customers to engage with through chatbot interaction.  Think about the questions customers are likely to ask the chatbot so that you can build out the correct flows that will guide users to the best answer possible. 
  • Personality counts – giving your chatbot a personality will humanise the experience for customers and connect the chatbot with your brand.  Most brands will give their chatbot a name to let customers know they are talking to a bot.  This is a great opportunity to be transparent with your customers whilst adopting a friendly tone in the conversation.
  • Create a great opening message – the welcome message is a vital issue when engaging users and encouraging them to respond to your chatbot.  You need to write a compelling message that is friendly, sets expectations and asks questions.
    • Be Compelling – make sure your chatbot doesn’t “sound” robotic.  Write a message that allows your bot’s personality to shine through, but make sure you maintain your social brand voice with the message.
    • Set Expectations – let customers know immediately that they are engaging with a chatbot – this will enable them to understand that the conversation will have some limits.  It’s also vital to let customers know when and how they will be able to chat with a real person if necessary.
    • Ask Questions – make sure the questions asked by your chatbot are designed to satisfy the customer’s needs.
  • Create multiple responses – for each of the questions you ask so that you’re able to satisfy the needs of your individual users. 
  • Build out – conversation trees.  For every question you ask, and for every response available for the users to choose from, build out a conversation that will lead to a satisfactory outcome for the user.  Some conversations may stop after just one question (if the answer addresses the user’s question), whilst others may span multiple levels.
  • Add visuals – to your responses, such as emojis, animated GIFs or images to add personality to your bot’s messages.  This will not only help to reinforce the messages to your users, it will also help to increase conversions.
  • Include Call to Action (CTA) buttons – to guide your customers to checkout.  A chatbot interaction should culminate with a CTA once the user has responded to all your questions and is ready to move forward in the customer journey.  Use these CTA buttons to lead users to a specific product or category page, to share their experience on social media, or directly to the checkout page on your website. 
  • Test conversations – to make sure all users are finding the information they need.  Use the insights from testing to adjust your messages if necessary.

Don’t forget that your chatbot can provide you with a valuable conversion tool that pushes users to the final destination – buying your products or services.