Chatbots interact with users through messaging apps, while completing specific tasks on their behalf.
For example, chatbots have been created to provide updates on weather, sports scores, news, and content. Some even act as personal assistants by helping to book flights or hotel rooms.
Most well-known chatbots have come from large brands including Sephora, Taco Bell, Uber, and H&M, all of which have successfully used chatbots to build engagement with their customers. At Sage, we’ve created our own chatbot, Pegg, a smart assistant that helps small businesses manage their finances.
If you run a business, here is a quick guide on how to build a chatbot that is right for your brand.
Determine whether a chatbot right for your business
The first question to ask is whether a chatbot can solve a specific problem for customers. Here are some practical ways that businesses can use chatbots:
- Helping clients schedule their own appointments or make reservations
- Answering basic questions such as store hours or locations, or requesting quick updates on orders, shipping, and returns
- Collecting information on customers’ individual preferences and then providing personalized product recommendations
The best chatbots are ones that are friendly, easy to use, always available, and provide great customer experiences. Such qualities in chatbots can ultimately generate more brand loyalty.
Choosing the best platform for a chatbot
The next step is to determine how customers will access the chatbot. For example, if a lot of traffic comes from a Facebook page, it may make the most sense to create a bot for Facebook Messenger. Creating a bot for Slack might be a better option in reaching enterprise users.
For simple bots, there are services that can build a Facebook Messenger chatbot for free, with little to no coding expertise required. However, if a more complex chatbot is needed, it might be better to work with a team of developers which can save time and resources.
Measuring a chatbot’s effectiveness
Once the chatbot is launched, it is an ongoing channel of communication with customers. This means the chatbot will need to be constantly tested and refined based on how it interacts. In the beginning, consider launching the chatbot to a small group of customers and ask them for feedback.
Keep an eye on engagement and monitor how many messages are exchanged with the bot, as well as the types of messages that cause the bot to say, “I don’t understand,” or “I couldn’t find that information.” The chatbot should also be able to respond to common misspellings. For example, if a customer asks about “store hours,” the bot needs to understand it should provide store hours.
A chatbot’s effectiveness can also be measured by how often customers return to use it. For example, a food delivery business may aim for repeat customers that use the chatbot every week or every few weeks.
Building a chatbot for your business doesn’t need to be complicated. By creating a simple, customer-centric chatbot, a business can make its customers’ experience even better than it already is, which will ultimately help the business grow.
Paul Struthers is executive vice-president and managing director of Sage Canada. He is an avid champion for Canadian small and medium-sized businesses.
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