Improving the user experience of any product is a never-ending quest. Improving your chatbot UX is, of course, no different.
In a world where anyone can release some sort of chatbot, it sometimes pays to get back to basics. I hope the three tips below will help beginner chatbot builders. Or, I hope it will help marketing teams in the confound of their meeting room when carefully plotting their amazing chatbot for 2018.
Think of the children. Think of your chatbot's UX.
1. Take your users on a journey
Chatbots are fun little creatures. Their power resides in conversations. Conversations allow all sorts of interesting scenarios.
To offer a fantastic experience to your chatbot users, take them on a journey. You have, at your fingertip, the power to interact with them on a personal level. Put it to good use.
If you have crafted your chatbot's persona with care, you already have a good place to start. Welcome the user, introduce the chatbot, and ask questions. It's not all about you anymore. It's not a one-dimensional website or flyer, where the user can only take in whatever you put out there. It's a two-dimensional bot that can give and take information.
Does your chatbot have a 'one true goal'? Great. Take the user from greetings to that one true goal swiftly, through a journey that makes sense.
2. Don't be afraid of buttons
This one may seem counter-intuitive: buttons are not evil. In fact, in many cases, I would argue buttons are the best tool to improve your chatbot UX.
We love AI. We love using NLU to give our chatbot users a great experience. But, we also love giving our users an easy experience. Chatbots should be easy to use. Sometimes, this means offering buttons.
Here's an example. Say you are building a real estate chatbot. One of the questions it asks its users is 'how much budget do you have?'. Rather than waiting for the human to painstakingly type in a longish number with his little thumbs, give him options.
Button 1: Under £X
Button 2: Between £X and £Y
Button 3: Between £Y and £Z
This makes a lot more sense to the user. It also, interestingly, makes your life easier. Asking a question like 'how much budget do you have?' can lead humans to all sorts of random answers. Trust me.
Some will go on longwinded rants ('well my mother in law has given us £100,000 and I am sure I have £60,000 in the bank so approx. the two together').
Some will say 'skip' or something similar, leaving you (and your bot) none the wiser about their interest.
Others will try to trick the bot with silly answers like 'one billion pounds and one penny my good sir'.
You get my point.
Giving them buttons makes their experience easier (typing is boring and inefficient), makes your bot work less (no need for NLU), and makes the entire experience less prone to human error (yours or theirs).
The moral is when you can don't be afraid to use buttons. It's not (always) gimmicky. Sometimes, it just makes for good UX.
3. Refine (aka cut down on) copy
Seeing lots of users give up on your bot after a short interaction? Think people are not sticking around enough to appreciate the value of your bot?
Here's a pro tip: it's probably due to your copy.
The way your chatbot speaks is important. We have talked about personality, language, conversational UX, etc. at great length.
The truth is our attention span is shrinking. We don't want to spend lots of time reading. I am actually amazed you have read my article this far (probably due to my amazing writing skills). Remember, efficiency and quick interaction is why chatbots are taking off now.
If your copy is longwinded, if you send your users blocks of texts, if you talk talk talk and never listen -- your users will bail. 100%.
So, to improve your chatbot UX, improve your copy. Review everything your chatbot is programmed to say. Can you make it shorter? Is it really relevant? Does it have its place in the conversation?
Be ruthless. Any fluff gets canned. Get to the point.
Improving chatbot UX is never over
I hope the three tips above have sparked inspiration.
As you know, improving the UX of any product is a never-ending quest. You may think your copy is now perfect, then look back in a month and find ways to improve it further.
That's ok. Chatbots are iterative products. Here's the good news, though: your chatbot is an open door to interacting with your users. Not sure what could be improved? Ask them. Involve them as much as possible.