Planning a Simple Chatbot Conversation
You have heard about conversational marketing. You have read about the benefits a chatbot can have on your business.
You have already studied the market's expectations from brands in 2017 - always more available. You've noticed your customers are sending you emails or calling you, asking the same questions over and over again (the ones your website already answers, by the way).
It is decided: you will give a chatbot a try.
In this article, we are going to cover the very basics of planning a chatbot conversation. We are not going to go into much technical detail (leave that to your chatbot developers) but rather touch on everything you need to plan for in order to deliver a successful simple experience to your users.
A chatbot conversation is conversational marketing
You need to treat it as such.
Therefore, to plan even the simplest chatbot conversation, you need to brush up on your conversational marketing knowledge and figure out:
- The one true goal of the conversation. Is it aimed at selling a product? Making a user aware of a product or service? Inform the user about your opening hours? Give information about the ethos behind your brand?
- The tone of the conversation. We write about this quite a lot, let's reiterate to catch everyone up. Your chatbot is an extension of your brand. As such, the way it talks (words, sentences, emojis, lingo, etc.) must reflect your brand. Even in the simplest conversations, your users will sense the tone of your chatbot. Make sure they recognise your brand instantly.
- The success of the conversation. We talked about the conversation's one true goal, now we need to cover what success looks like and how you are going to determine it. Let's say your one true goal is to educate your users about a new product. How do you measure success? Messages read? Buttons clicked? Page visited? If you do not plan that beforehand, you are essentially going in this conversation blind.
That is really all you need to plan for now.
Once you have your one true goal, your tone, and your success meter, you are ready to start tackling a simple chatbot conversation.
Planning a simple chatbot conversation
Now that you have all the above, we can go into the nitty gritty of planning your simple conversation.
You should plan four different phases.
Phase one: the opener
Your chatbot's opener is like an email subject line; it does 90% of the job.
I cannot tell you how many bots I have abandoned on message one because the opener was terrible. Too long, too short, too impersonal, too completely random and irrelevant - they all happen all the time.
In your opener, remember your brand's voice and your true goal. Open the conversation in a way that reflects your brand (funny, serious, direct, personal, etc.), then go straight to the point.
I find it helps to mention what the goal of the conversation is within the first two messages.
Phase two: the user participation
Simply put: does it happen or not? Will you make your users participate in the conversation or will they passively receive your chatbot's messages?
Arguably, if your chatbot does not let its users speak, it is hardly a conversation. Therefore, you should plan for user input.
Are you going to make them push buttons to move along (see flow chatbots) or are you going to let them input free text? How are you going to recognise that text?
Phase three: the diversions
Chatbot users are funny little things. They love to divert from the beautiful path we lay before their feet. Honestly, you could call your chatbot 'Find The Best Restaurants In Milan' and users would still ask it about the size of a baby tiger shark.
Take a page from these guys' playbook and plan for the unknown.
What would happen if the user diverts from the initial path? How do you redirect them? Does the chatbot give up at some point? If yes, how?
These are all things you need to plan for.
Phase four: the goodbyes
Finally, your chatbot user has reached its destination. You have succeeded and your one true goal was met - hooray!
As funny as it sounds, you need to plan what happens to your chatbot once its purpose has been met.
Does it remain there, available, answering questions? Does it loop back to the top of the simple chatbot conversation? Does it move on to another topic?
I hope these pointers help you plan your build. As you can see, even the simplest chatbot conversations can become complicated quickly.
The trick is not to let yourself get overwhelmed by the seemingly enormous amount of work a simple conversation represents. The truth is you probably have a handle on most of that right now!
Use the blueprint above to plan appropriately and not miss a thing, and you'll do great.