Virtual chat agents or chatbots are rapidly becoming part of many businesses because they enable the automation of countless processes. Chatbots are effective at what they do and can offer instant value.
This post is written to guide you through the steps of designing a chatbot from a company’s perspective, listing the things to consider and why.
No matter what type of business you are in, a chatbot can find a place to fit in and to be of use to you and your customers.
Step 1 –
Define chatbot’s main functionality and value
The first thing you need to do is figure out what you’re trying to accomplish with your chatbot. What will its main purpose be? Will it be to promote your company or to take a load off your IT support team by troubleshooting and resolving problems.
For example, let’s take a look at the sales virtual agent. Its main functionalities could be to:
– Provide information
– Recommend services
– Conduct cross-sell activities
– Store relevant information
This type of chatbot can, because of its guidance and recommendation skills that are available 24/7 to multiple users simultaneously, significantly reduce the workload off your employees, increase user engagement and conversion rate.
Step 2 –
Specify use cases and locate the data source
Now, once you’ve established the main purpose and value of the bot, it’s time to make a list of all tasks you want your bot to be able to carry out.
This step could take time, and it’s important to prepare well and collect all required data or locate their sources before the bot development process begins. Here you can consult with your technical team to help you figure out internal data sources that the bot might use, as well as to discuss integrations with existing systems.
Step 3 –
Analyze the target audience and create a chatbot persona
There are also some important questions that you will need to address in the design process to define a chatbot persona. You should look at the chatbot’s personality not only as a big part of the user experience but also as an extension of your brand. It should be consistent with the image and the voice of your company.
Of course, chatbot’s potential users are to be considered here as well. You should analyze them to determine their age, interests, location, type of devices they have access to, platforms they mostly use, etc.
Once you’ve distinguished who are chatbot’s users, you can more easily decide on:
– Chatbot’s character and tonality
– Platforms and channels through which the chatbot will be accessible
– Ways of interaction – text, voice, image, etc.
Since the chatbot is an extension of your brand, you can take an extra step here. Seize the opportunity of deciding on the chatbot’s name, gender, and visual representation (avatar image, colors), as well as considering marketing strategies for the chatbot’s promotion.
fig. 1 - Chatbot persona example
Step 4 –
Confirm the script and take a close look at the conversational flow
At this point, it is time for the bot designer and writer to step in and start writing the script. This will result in producing the chatbot’s conversational flow, a document containing the dialogue tree, and all the lines that the chatbot will be able to use. The flow usually consists of three standard parts, each equally important for a good user experience.
You can use the introduction part to tell your users that they are talking to a bot and to point out its capabilities and limitations. This will set the expectations right from the start and decrease the chance of unsatisfying user experience due to misconception and unrealistic expectations.
The main part of the flow is where the majority of the conversation occurs and where all use cases should come to a realization. This part should be well designed and should offer users alternatives and escape routes. Here you also need to consider which user information is relevant to you and whether you want to store it or not. If so, make sure that the users are notified and that permission to collect that data was given.
The closing part represents the ending of the conversation with the bot. It may not always be necessary, but make sure that your bot is polite and responds back to hi and bye messages. It does make a difference.
As you can see, the process of designing a chatbot can be quite exciting. There is a lot to be considered and some important decisions to be made so that the development process pays off.
If you decide to get your own chatbot, make sure that you have the right team of experts by your side to guide you every step of the way, making sure that all your requirements are united and translated into a chatbot suitable story.