Chatbots don’t work. Well, not unless they’ve been integrated intelligently and strategically to create a seamless customer journey. By 2022, Gartner predicts that 70% of customer interactions with businesses will involve emerging technologies such as machine learning (ML) applications, chatbots and mobile messaging.
Chatbots are a bit like magic in that they are powerful tools in the right hands. But if they’re thrown into gaps in the business without strategic direction or the customer underpinning the foundations of their design, then they can potentially do the opposite of what the business wants. They can frustrate customers, deliver poor service and damage the brand.
There are six essential elements that make up a solid and effective chatbot implementation. These six qualities will define the relevance of the chatbot, the value it brings to the business, and whether or not it has the magic needed to transform customer engagement.
1: Company strategy is key
A chatbot strategy won’t work unless there is buy-in from the C-Suite. It has to be part of the company strategy and this has to include a holistic view on where the business wants to take its chatbots and what channels it wants to use. There are multiple use cases for chatbots, so knowing precisely what use cases are the most important or relevant will define the investment and the business approach from the outset.
2: The 80/20 rule
When you initially develop a chatbot apply the 80/20 rule – 20% of the effort to solve 80% of the problem. The easy wins need to be pinpointed and targeted to allow for immediate results and value from any chatbot implementation.
From product information to store times to basic service information, there are several simple starting points for any chatbot strategy that can be used to give customers immediate insight and support. These can then be leveraged into richer and more relevant use cases as the business and its strategy evolves.
3: Technology agnostic
There are lots of underlying processes involved in the development of a chatbot. For this reason, it’s vital that you partner with a company that has the experience needed to understand any possible design limitations when building a bot for your business.
The ideal partner is technology agnostic and capable of integrating the right technologies based on your specific needs and use cases. If your business requires an interactive chatbot that uses text-based input and responses only, for example, then IBM Watson is a solid choice, but if you want to use image or language recognition, then perhaps a Google or Amazon platform is a better fit. A good partner will help the organisation manage its choices better to ensure that your chatbot continues to meet business and customer requirements across all use cases.
4: Ongoing development
Chatbots are not plug-and-play. They cannot be just deployed and left alone, they need to adapt to customer feedback and business needs to remain relevant. The company may have an idea as to what the chatbot should do or how it should react, but customers may have a completely different view once they begin interacting with the bot. If you can change and pivot chatbot strategy and engagement on-demand, and continue to optimise it, then your business is on the right path to extracting the most value out of the technology.
5: Catering for queries that lie outside of your chatbot’s understanding
A customer service chatbot will never be able to handle all customer queries concerning every aspect of your business. There will always be a scenario where the chatbot does not fully understand or has limited capabilities in fulfilling a particular customer query, which will result in a bad customer experience if there is no Plan B in place. For this reason, it is extremely important to have the capability to transfer the customer to a customer service agent in your company’s contact centre. This person will also need the full context of the previous interaction between the customer and chatbot so that the conversation can be continued where the chatbot left off, and the query resolved efficiently.
6: Always evolving
Chatbots need to be continuously upgraded and adapted to match evolving business needs and technologies. There will be new business service options or perhaps a shift in use case or customer engagement scenarios, or even new technology that will increase engagement and efficiency and no business can afford to ignore the opportunity to do more with less. Ensure the business works with a partner that can offer this level of DevOps that’s au fait with emergent tech to ensure that your chatbots are effective, ready and, perhaps most importantly, remarkable.