Chatbots have the potential to create personable life-like experiences for your customers. They resemble text messaging, a popular mode of communication. And they can take the place of boring old forms or text-heavy web pages.
If you’re ready to give chatbots a try, I recommend a service called Landbot: https://landbot.io
`They offer a code-free bot builder with a free plan. They support most major bot platforms. And they also provide standalone bots so your customers can start right away without signing-in or giving away private info.
I’ve worked with chatbots for a couple years, and here’s what I’ve learned that should give you a head start.
Design your bot starting with its own character and voice, and take time to tailor to this unique format. Write everything fresh. Don’t just copy and paste text from your forms or FAQs into a bot.
Effective bots are templates of conversations that can be had with many customers. They are short choose-own-adventures. Each turn is a brief statement and either a menu of options or a single affirmative response.
You can collect specific information from them, or have them write open responses. But don’t attempt to handle complex AI using Natural Language Processing (NLP). Although the tech exists, it’s exceedingly complex to author. And it always falls short of user’s expectations.
Use short sentences and offer one or two word replies for your customer’s. Long chat bubbles force users to scroll back up and creates unnatural experiences. Instead, write like you would to a friend in a text and aim for short turns of conversation.
Also, take care not to get lost in a complex tree of possibilities when designing. If every block has many options, your bot will grow exponentially, overwhelming both you and your customers. Having a single path with primarily affirmative responses works better. As long as that path is relevant and helpful to customers, they won’t mind being ushered down it.
You can also add short asides or create forks that merge right back into your main path. Doing this even once or twice feels natural and will add a lot of agency at a low cost of complexity.
Embrace that your bot is a fictional character by adding personality and humor. Throw in emoji’s or gifs, like you’re chatting with friends.
But make sure it’s clear that they are interacting with a bot and not a human. Have it introduce itself as such at the top along with any context needed to know if this conversation is for them.
A magician is only able to delight an audience that has bought into the show and is willing to suspend disbelief. Similarly, an ambiguous bot is worse than voicemail that pranks you as if you got through.
That’s it. If you have any questions or pointers of your own, please comment!