Don’ts when building your chatbot

Chatbot Marketing

There’s a lot of things you can be doing to make your chatbot the best it can be but where there’s good, there’s bad. Here are our top 5 tips on what not to do for your chatbot. Let dive straight in.

Photo by Mark Plötz from Pexels

  1. Don’t build a chatbot  – unless you need one.

Chatbots can be a great tool for your business. However, if your users didn’t need one in the first place then a chatbot can easily become more a liability than an asset. It’s the age old lesson – listen to your customers.

If you don’t have people messaging your business’ Facebook, then don’t worry about building one. If you have the resources for full time community management, then you probably don’t need one either. Chatbots are great when you have a high volume of customers reaching your business through Facebook with the same line of questions. It might be easier to have an automated chatbot to answer all these generic queries and free up some time for you to focus on bigger problems.

So, if you don’t have the resources to build well-oiled chatbot, then it’s better to just leave it for now. Waiting is one thing, but having a frustrating chatbot to talk to can be worse.

  1. Don’t sound like a human – but that doesn’t mean don’t have character.

It’s always a good idea to be transparent about who your user is talking to. Make it clear in your welcome message that it’s a chatbot talking, not a human. If you’ve built a chatbot that can replicate a human’s tone and voice, then it’s a high chance your users will be creeped out once they find out they’re talking to a bunch of numbers.

There’s a fine line between sounding too robotic and too human. This balance of design is called skeuomorphism.

That being said, users respond well to a chatbot with personality. Determine your chatbot’s voice by considering your demographic and your brand’s mission statement. Aloof and professional? Warm and friendly? Make sure you know how you want your customers to experience your business and start from there. A profile picture won’t hurt either.

Read more on our previous blog on conversation design for more tips on getting the right voice down for your chatbot.

  1. Don’t let the user control the conversation – just make them think they do.

They say that freedom is the enemy of creativity and this can be said for conversations. At least, when you’re talking with an automated robot. It’s unlikely your chatbot will be able to hold down a deep and thoughtful heart-to-heart and it’s even more unlikely that that’s what your customers are looking for when they contact your business’ Facebook page.

This taps into the previous point of not sounding like a human. You can avoid this by providing a menu at the start or give them options along the way. Kill two birds with one stone by saving time and gently guiding the user with quick reply buttons that can also enrich the tone of the conversation e.g. instead of a straight “no”, provide a more light-hearted response like “maybe next time”.

  1. Don’t get too complicated – it looks needy.

This tip is similar to not letting your user control the conversation. If you give your user too many options and repeating them, you’ll clog up the flow and make it confusing for your user (and you!) to find what they actually want. Remember, you might know all the endless possibilities in your design, but your user probably won’t get to all of them.

So, continue to gently guide by keeping the flow uncluttered and straightforward. Don’t keep offering to take them back to the initial menu or pester them an insecure bot who asks if they want to keep talking again and again. During your welcome message, you can let the user know they can restart their interaction by typing in a keyword of your choosing. “Restart” is a good one.

Allow the user to opt out of the chatbot too. For example, have a sequence that notifies admins when your user types “human” and assure them that they will be speaking with someone made of flesh and blood as soon as possible.

  1. Don’t reply too quickly – but don’t act hard to get.

Instant replies can turn off users, funnily enough. You might think your user wants an answer ASAP but when you have a lot of information, a few seconds between messages can ease reading and prevent a wall of text from hitting them in the face. It’s that fine line between sounding too robotic and too human again! Something as small as those 3 oscillating dots can do wonders for your user’s experience.

Hopefully, these simple tips will help build your chatbot to be as light and easy as possible. The main goal is to make the interaction as smooth as possible. Even if that means paring back on your ambitious goals to build the best chatbot in the world. For now at least.

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