Chatbots can be broadly defined as artificial intelligence systems that humans can interact with via text or voice interface. Depending on the sophistication of the chatbot, those interactions can be straightforward or highly complex.
From simpler tasks like providing the weather report, to higher level functioning like having a bot troubleshoot a problem with your internet service, chatbots are playing an increasingly important role in our online lives.
To learn more, here are ten steps on how to build a successful chatbot:
1. Developing a chatbot
Although building a chatbot can be challenging, if you have a little patience and an eye for detail, you probably have what it takes to build a chatbot that offers value. Essentially, they can be built in two ways, either from a rule-based approach that requires hard coding or from a machine learning perspective that necessitates streaming data for the system to learn on its own.
2. Figuring out what problem the chatbot is going to solve
Before you need to get too deep into the nitty gritty though, you need to figure out your precise purpose for building the chatbot. If your bot if going to be of value to anyone, there has to be a clear problem that it is going to help solve.
3. Basic vs. AI
Once you’ve got your purpose outlined, you can start exploring your options. Depending on the nature of your design, you’ll either build a basic chatbot or one with an AI brains. Keep in mind that because customers want to converse with chatbots that understand natural language, developers are making every attempt to create a bot that is rich in AI.
Thankfully, this is easier than ever due to resources like Api.ai, that help build chatbots with AI brains.
4. Choosing the platform
You also need to decide on a platform. A bot platform is essentially an online ecosystem where chatbots can be deployed and interact with users. There are a range of platforms are available including Facebook Messenger, Slack, Discord, Telegram and Kik.
5. Choosing the services
After choosing the platform, you also need to settle on the services that can be leveraged to build the chatbot. These include: Microsoft bot frameworks, Wit.ai, Api.ai, and IBM’s Watson.
Thankfully, even though without much in the way of programming skills can participate by taking advantage of services that encourage the building of chatbots. These include: Chatfuel, Texit.in, Octane AI, and Motion.ai.
6. Knowing your target audience
In addition to the technical details, one of the best practices for successful chatbot development is knowing the target audience you are trying to reach. It is also important to identify use case scenarios and to figure out how you’re going toto initiate conversation, along with the tone of chat.
For example, is the bot intended to entertain audience, allow users to buy and sell, provide news or serve as a customer service channel?
7. Providing emotional depth
The better you know your audience, the easier it will be to build an emotionally rich chatbot. In order to do this, you need to read and understand user sentiments to promote content blocks that can prompt the user to continue once the conversation is underway. Remember that if the user is disappointed with how the chatbot behaves, they will not be coming back.
Always try to keep human emotions in mind, your chatbot should not come off as cold and automated, but warm, friendly, and empathetic. It should make people feel at ease in addition to being equipped to provide them with the service or information they need.
8. Engaging the user from start to finish
There are a few simple things you can do to ensure that users feel comfortable engaging with your chatbot. These include using buttons that are familiar to users and encouraging the user to respond by typing, enabled through actionable command.
If you want to learn how to build a chatbot, it is also a good idea to provide some guidance by setting limits. These limitations will create paths for the user and provide some structure to the conversation.
9. Minimizing user struggle
You want the process of using your chatbot to be as seamless as possible. You can help accomplish this by designing the chatbot with button clicks and a template that will prevent it from breaking. Ultimately, you want to make users feel understood and help them to land in safe areas of the system, offer human help when the conversation stalls.
10. Encouraging participation
Although you certainly cannot anticipate everything the user might want from your bot, you can take steps to improve your chatbot over time. For example, you can include prompts that encourage users to come up with their own suggestions and ideas when they don’t find things that they are looking for.
Furthermore, you can allow users to submit articles when the chatbot fails to respond to queries or requests they have submitted. This will minimize frustration and help you work towards a more defined product.