5 Things You Can Do To Avoid Messing Up Your Chatbot Experience

5 Things You Can Do To Avoid
Messing Up Your Chatbot Experience

Saurabh Gupta · 29 Nov 2016

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A conversation coming soon to a phone near you:

User:

Book flights to Dharamshala. cheapest fare in December?

Bot:

Cheapest fare to Dharamshala is on 19th Dec, Rs. 8540 per person on Jet. Btw, I noticed that you have been looking at Greece vacations for the past one month. Why are you buying tickets to a local hill station?
Do you want me to look up vacation deals for Greece?

Okay, I admit bots are not quite as JARVIS-like (aka Iron Man) just yet but it’s only a matter of time. 'Chatbot' is officially a buzz word. Most digital focused businesses, have either launched or are racing to launch their Chatbot offerings. This shift towards conversational UX is an important milestone in the journey towards the ultimate goal of completely humanizing technology.

Why are users craving this new, on-demand, conversational experience?

  • Easier to learn and use (especially on the mobile):

    Chatbots strip an interface down to the most raw, meaningful experience possible.
    Besides, most users are already familiar with messaging interfaces.

  • More convenient:

    Users are increasingly getting fed up with the overload of apps on their phones. Chatbots provide a more integrated experience allowing users to do a lot more with fewer apps.

  • More personalized:

    Bots can personalize and customize content in a scalable way. Website and Apps are meant to solve problems for groups, however bots can solve problems for individuals. Great bots won’t just have 1 or 2 information flows; they will have multiple flows and copy each tailored specifically to a person’s preferences. Even an offer feels more personal and less sales-pitchy when it’s coming via Chatbot.

But what problems do Chatbots solve for businesses?

  • Higher adoption of digital channels:

    Instead of trying to create and onboard users to new ecosystems, businesses can integrate with and push content & services to messaging platforms where users are already active.

  • Bigger role in user ecosystem:

    Chatbots can easily deep link and integrate many other services allowing users to do a lot more from one place and giving companies the opportunity to drive up usage & stickiness of their chatbots.

  • Reduced cost:

    Bots enable more flexibility than other mobile customer service options because they can interpret and respond to plain text and voice questions. This means bots could potentially reduce the need for call centers, thus reducing operating costs.

  • Better cross-selling:

    Bots can deliver more personalized offers to customers, and customers are more likely to see those offers. However, the success of cross-selling via bots will depend on whether businesses ensure that users can redeem offers in a frictionless manner directly from the message.

So, go forth and build your bot but keep these 5 things in mind…

  1. Conversation is not always the best way to do something

    Let’s say you are buying movie tickets. A chatbot could spend hours listing available seats, describing relative distances from the screen, and offering prices for each. Wouldn’t it make more sense to show an interactive seat map instead? The user could quickly glance at the seating options, check prices and buy. Use graphical Interfaces to support the conversational UI wherever required. Recognize the limitations of chat bots because text conversations alone cannot make a digital experience easy, efficient and natural. If it’s unclear to users how a chat will save time and energy, they will not make the transition from graphical interfaces. Inertia is a powerful thing.

  2. Start on a familiar note

    Users are used to seeing tabs, images, text, links, buttons, etc. on websites and apps. On chatbots, users typically land on an empty screen without any of these guiding elements which can be disorienting. Prompt and orient users with relevant opening statements, information and buttons to trigger important/frequent tasks as opposed to only a “Hi!” or “How can I help you?” to get the conversation going.

  3. Give your bot a personality

    Though conversational UIs are robots it’s important that they don't talk like one. It’s boring to talk to a robot and besides, it’s not something users are used to. Give your bot a personality that is aligned with your brand. Use friendly, jargon-free language to make users feel like they’re chatting with a friend or someone familiar. Repeat inputs back to users to check for understanding. This will make users feel comfortable and gain their trust.

  4. Be Pragmatic

    Building a Chatbot does not necessarily require the use of the latest in natural-language AI and state of the art software with deep neural networks. For now, your initial Chatbot offering can rely on algorithms that carefully define how a task will flow, as opposed to algorithms that learn on their own from data. It’s not the best way to handle limitless natural language conversations but can work quite well for bots with clear pathways and conversation boundaries.

  5. Bots are here but you still need the human touch

    Considering conversations are limitless and Chatbots probably won’t offer everything under the sun to users (at least initially). You just have to accept that a Chatbot is going to get stuck at some point or another in a conversation. The best way around it is to plan for it and make the broken experience as frictionless as possible. So, in situations where the conversation gets stuck, show users that you understand their pain and offer human intervention as seamlessly as possible.

Messaging apps are an old concept. So why are Chatbots rising now? Two reasons… advances in AI and the need to get everything done immediately. Like any new concept, it will take time to define standards and put frameworks in place. But this is it… we are in the Chatbot era. Perhaps the last stop before the arrival of true AI.

References:

  • UX Magazine: Conversational Interface Is the New Face of Your Apps
  • Wired: A New Chatbot Would Like to Help You with Your Bank Account
  • Medium, Muzli-Design Inspiration: The Ultimate Guide to Chatbots: Why they’re disrupting UX and best practices for building
  • Business Insider: Here's what banks should consider before launching chatbots on Facebook Messenger
  • Venture Beat: Why chatbots are the last bridge to true AI
  • Medium, Chatbot’s Life: Bots & Super Personalization on Steroids
  • Small Business Trends: Use Chatbots to Connect with Customers in a More Personal Way

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