4 Secrets to Building a Bot That Works

June 3, 2019


Major brands have invested heavily in new technologies including messenger bots, which use artificial intelligence (AI) to communicate with your audiences.

There are many reasons why a brand or organization would consider building its own chatbot: to grow their email list, generate qualified leads or increase sales.

So how do you start? Once you know your goals and who you want to take action, you can begin to think about your audience personas. Put yourself in their shoes to try to understand how they think and what their needs are — closing information gaps, making a transaction, clarifying information, making a purchase, and feeling welcomed, supported or connected to your brand.

Whatever your objectives are, you are essentially trying to connect your customer with a solution in the most efficient and accurate way possible. To build an effective bot and get the most return on your investment, make sure to keep the following in mind:

1. Develop a skeleton. Now that you know who you’re talking to, you can start thinking of your content. Sketch out a draft of the bot’s structure (menu, buttons, call to actions, what happens when given keyword is typed, navigation steps, etc.). This, mapped along your personas, will help you develop potential user journeys, which can help you visualize and refine the user experience, and better adjust the navigation flow depending on your users’ needs.

Besides the programmed questions, consider making a list of all possible questions your audience could have, and what you’ll want your bot to be able to recognize and answer. Meanwhile, the bot will learn and identify repeated keywords or phrases and suggest them if you want to add those to your knowledge base. This is a distinguishing advantage of a bot because it allows you to identify problems and solutions that your customers have, which you may not have been aware of otherwise.

2. Test and soft launch. Skip a big debut, and instead do a soft launch to ensure that everything is working smoothly — that the right message is being triggered by the right keyword, and that the right data point is being collected through the right question.

Since bots use AI, it’s recommended that you give it some time to learn. The more you use it, the smarter it will become. Try inviting a small group of customers to test it. If you’re feeling more confident, then you can set up the bot on your website, which, in my experience, has increased the interactions and number of leads collected, while also retaining visitors for longer periods of time on the site.

3. Leverage data. Look at your existing data to see what common questions your audience has. Use social listening, focus group research, website traffic and email replies to inform how you determine the key information blocks and core messaging of your bot.

Once you’ve launched it, you will need to set aside time to analyze the data that Facebook gleans from your customer interactions. Since the bot is constantly learning, you have to make sure that you are consistently checking in and adjusting your strategy depending on trends and insights that you may identify from your newly captured data.

4. Be human and on brand. The key to building a successful bot is to make sure that there’s a natural flow of conversation. Your copy should be written as if you were talking to a person — because you are! You don’t want to sound like a robot; otherwise, your customers will not relate to your brand and won’t have the authentic experience that you want them to have.

For example, instead of replying to a request for information with a link to a form, you can create a form within your bot and map the results to specific fields. This way, the bot collects the key data you need but it does this by asking questions in an informal, everyday way.

You want to make sure you come off as approachable, resourceful and helpful as great customer service is at the core of what a bot does. By sounding human and aligning your bot’s tone and content with your brand values and personality, your customers will have a seamless brand experience regardless of the channel or communication vehicle — like the awesome chatbot you just built!

Andrea Gils

Andrea Gils, a native of Uruguay, is the marketing and communications manager at the University of Kentucky International Center. She was on the PRSA New Pros National Committee in 2016, currently serves on the PRSA National Diversity & Inclusion National Committee and is a Champion for PRSSA. Connect with her on LinkedIn: andreagils.



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