If the AI we’ve been hearing about (and been afraid of) in all those movies turns out to be as useful as chatbots, then we will have a bright future indeed.
Chatbots are all the rage these days, and you can see them everywhere you turn, but…
Why Are They So Popular?
Well, basically, they replace humans (if you oppose that, cry me a river, technology has been replacing humans since we started inventing stuff) and bring benefits (lots of savings) to big and small companies alike.
Just imagine how many customer interactions are really trivial, something that really does not require the human touch. You need to ask for a phone number or an address, or you want to check your account balance or something like that – do you really need a human to help you with that, or can they be employed in a much more meaningful sense, both for their companies and for their customer’s satisfaction.
If you like numbers, 80% of businesses plan on implementing chatbots by the end of 2020 (according to a survey in the UK, Netherlands, and France), and the chatbot market will reach $1.23 billion by 2025. That’s a lot of money.
Since we now understand why chatbots are so good, the question is – are they good? I mean, at chatbotting. Well, despite sounding extremely futuristic (like the Tesla’s notorious autopilot which is still awesome btw) it is far away from true artificial intelligence that will definitely try to kill us.
They (chatbots) are actually quite sophisticated algorithms that can respond to a predetermined set of answers and questions and can even sense some emotions from your responses. They can remember your name, use it during a conversation, they can use random answers from their base, and simply imitate how a person would conduct a particular conversation.
For example, a good chatbot can sense if your responses are positive or negative and adjust their approach accordingly. They can easily offer you to talk to a real person if they detect that you are totally anti-technology, and that will save both of you some time.
One of the most popular chatbot platforms in the world is SnatchBot, a free to use online software that will help you create a chatbot for several messengers such as Facebook, Skype, or Line, but also allow you to implement your little helper directly into your website.
So, Why Should You Use a Chatbot?
Well they are free, at least the aforementioned SnatchBot is, so it will cost you nothing, except a little time to get it up and running. After that, you will surely look more professional, and your customers will appreciate that. Some people actually do not like talking to people about every single thing and are annoyed by chat boxes popping up, trying to connect you to a salesperson.
So, they are cheap and they are easy to use, both for you and for the customer. They are really popular nowadays, and will especially appeal to early adopters. They are currently still a novelty and are fun to use, despite their (still) limited capabilities. A well set-up chatbot will save you money on human power, especially if you invest a lot in human agents.
And, as time progresses, software solutions like SnatchBot will only become better, smarter, and more relevant.
Now, How Can You Create One?
Well, in order to use SnatchBot (which is easy-to-use beyond words) you’ll need to register on their website; the usual stuff. All the data stored there is highly secured, which is the industry standard, so you do not have to worry about your chatbot info being abused.
Once you access the dashboard, there, you will be able to see all your current bots, or be offered the option to create a new one. Once you give it an extremely ingenious name, you will be offered some of the pre-existing templates to use.
This can speed things up immensely, especially if you are not interested in building every nook and cranny of your first bot (you will however be able to customize and change anything that you’d like).
This platform uses interactions which can come in many forms, and are basically instructions for the bot about what to do in a specific situation. They are easy to understand and do not require knowledge of any programming language; you just need to fill in the blanks explained in simple English (or any other language that you select).
Other complex features exist such as setting up payment buttons or email extraction, but even that can be set up by you once you go a bit in-depth with this platform.
The first step is setting up a greeting message. The bot should introduce itself to the customer. Be as creative as you’d like. You can ask a question and offer a set of possible answers that a user can click on (you can even disable user input) or you can analyze the user’s response for a desired keywords such as Yes or No.
After that, you need to create connections between different interactions. Think about it as a tree. A question will lead to (at least) two outcomes, and you need a connected interaction for each possibility. You need to first create an interaction before connecting to it.
Just browse the offered options and choose what seems right to you. At any time, you will have the option to test the current setup and see how the actual chatbot behaves. After you are all set and done, you can connect it to a specific channel where it will be used. You can connect it to, e.g. Facebook, Skype, and your email or, like we’ve mentioned, your website.
Connecting It to a Channel
If you are interested in a website chatbot, this can be as easy as customizing the desired icon and embedding a bit of code to your page’s HTML. After you save changes to your page, go to it and see your chatbot in action. From that point on, any changes done to the chatbot itself do not need to be done on your page, but on the platform where you’ve built the bot itself.
This reduces hassle, and your bot will always be connected and updated on your website.
Other popular channels where a SnatchBot can be connected to are Facebook, Skype, Slack, or your email. Once again, you need to go to your bot editor and click on Channels. Each of those has a specific bot integration process, but this allows that integration to happen without you having to worry about it.
Just select, for example, Skype. There you’ll need to log into an account. That is all. If you are interested in customization, just check out detailed guides for Skype, Facebook Messenger or your Email.
Once again, it is an industry standard (and SnatchBot is no different) not to abuse any data that is being sent to the bot, or any data that comes from the connection between the bot and one of your accounts.
Live Chat Options
Despite many positive things that can be said about current chatbots, they are not omnipotent, and a human will be required here and there. For a SnatchBot to switch over to a real employee, you just need to use their Live Chat reply card and implement it into any interaction you want.
If you want, you can use NLP technology (or Natural Language Processing) that will automatically determine throughout the chat if a person needs to talk to your agent. Once the Await Response interaction has been added, the bot will be suspended until a human takes over.
The bot can send a notification to your employees that their interaction is required. A SnatchBot can even be customized to alert those agents the user actually needs, so there is no confusion.
Once an agent has logged in, they will see a bubble and open a conversation, which can be done on any device.
Things to Think About before Building a Bot
- First impressions matter – introduce your bot for what it is and offer help to your customers. Offer options to talk to a real agent in the second step, once you see if the customer is interested in talking to a bot or not. Try and be pleasant, funny but also accommodating.
- You can either use Typing Input or Quick Replies – whatever you choose, you will need to create interactions for them. Quick replies are a bit easier, as they are completely unambiguous, but they will disable NLP, because all the answers will be predetermined.
- Rich User Experience – insert as many images, buttons, or menus as you’d like, without overburdening your customer. The idea is to create an experience that is truly unique and fun. Create a bot that has a personality, which is funny, and select occasions where that approach can be used. A bot can be whatever you design it to be, so be creative yourself.
- Think about your customer – create responses and think about what the ultimate goal of your customer is. What will the visitors use your bot for, and what should be the purpose of your chatbot? The more you think about possible interactions, the better options you will provide for your customers.
Wrapping it up
There you have it! Now you know how chatbots can be so useful to how to create one yourself.
It is important to be creative at every step of the way and put yourself in the shoes of your visitor – think about what they need and combine that with what you want. Your chatbot is surely to be a great success if you blend those two goals nicely.