What Makes A Good Chatbot?
Whoa, ok, going for the big questions, are we?
Since the answer to this question is somewhat subjective, we’re going to explore three examples of good chatbots first. Then, with that information and a helpful tool, you'll be able to judge the quality of a chatbot for yourself.
Let's dig in.
The characteristics of a good chatbot (per industry)
Before we can judge the quality of a chatbot, we need to understand its purpose within the business.
Why was this chatbot built?
A chatbot must be built to help a business. This 'help', whatever it is, must be reported using data and metrics. Measuring that data will help the business know whether or not the chatbot is performing (and helping).
Once we know what that 'help' is (hint: One True Goal), we can decide what the chatbot must be able to do to get there and whether the bot we’re reviewing does it successfully.
Is it a digital member of your HR department, there to serve your staff? Or do we want a lean lead generating machine that interacts with website visitors?
Let's go through this process, sector by sector.
Sector one - HR departments
If you’re hiring a chatbot to help out your HR department, it’s likely that you are looking to free your helpdesk of all the FAQ they receive day to day. You are trying to lower the burden on your team and leave them free to focus on the human element of their role.
With the goal to handle all of these repetitive enquiries, your chatbot must know your business inside out. This is where integration with your existing systems is key.
Editor's note: Calculate the cost-saving impact an HR chatbot could have on your department -- grab our worksheet
A staff member interacts with your chatbot on Slack to ask about taking annual leave (AL)
The chatbot connects to your HR portal so can check that certain parameters are met (e.g: the number of employees on annual leave at the same time) before informing the employee whether the AL is approved.
At the same time, the chatbot might inform the employee of their remaining annual leave allowance (and a handful of other helpful information).
If the bot isn’t well integrated with a platform that is easy for employees to access and therefore easy to use, as well as your portals to collect data, it’s going to need to fall back on human input - rendering it obsolete.
Your staff love interacting with your HR team, so we don’t want to lose that personal touch. The HR to employee relationship must be strong. We're not trying to remove that, we are trying to enable HR to do more of it and improve the employee experience.
The conversation and service provided by your HR chatbot will need to be personable, conversational and friendly. Starting conversations with “Hello, how are you?” rather than “What do you want? let’s get this over with.”
Sector two - Sales departments
You have a high cost per sale. Your live chat function keeps your sales team busy dealing with enquiries from unqualified leads.
You need a tool that can both free up their time and help qualify leads. Further still, your tool might allow customers to ask questions and go through the entire sales cycle without talking to a human.
For this to be successful, your sales chatbot will need to be accessible, have the ability to fall back to a human when the going gets tough, and where relevant, have access to your inventory details.
Additionally, a front-line chatbot means your website visitors no longer have to wait in a live chat queue to get a response. As you probably noticed, most visitors stuck in a queue get bored and leave before you have had a chance to respond.
A user is looking for a product or service you offer. They have some questions about the product they're looking for so they decide to fire up your chatbot.
Imagine that you have a Shopify clothing site -- perfect use for a chatbot.
The user wants to know what size 10 blue shoes you have available. The chatbot connects to your inventory database and knows the categories of your products along with stock levels. It then informs the user of the choice available, all in one swift conversation.
In addition to surfacing these products to the user, the chatbot can ask if they are interested in matching accessories. Just like that, you have an upsell.
Instead of forcing the user to navigate multiple pages (read hoops), this whole process can be initiated and completed via your chatbot. Oh, and the entire conversation is unique to each user's requirements.
People expect information at the click of a button. To achieve this, your sales chatbot should be readily available across multiple communication channels, including social media.
Fast response times will keep your audiences engaged with your offering. Recommending products will also enhance their shopping experience (and increase your average order value).
Your chatbot should talk in an informative and friendly voice. It should focus on giving advice, not being condescending or sales-y. Thankfully, fine-tuning a chatbot's language is entirely possible.
Sector three - Customer service departments
One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with larger companies can be when things don’t quite go to plan and you need to contact support.
This, in some cases, can influence the loyalty of a customer. Providing the right customer service experience is paramount to retaining these customers.
Web users don’t want to trawl FAQ sections to find only half of the answer to their issue. The alternative? A customer service chatbot, of course!
Your phone lines are busy, wait times are long, particularly in peak periods.
On your help page, your customer is introduced to your friendly and helpful chatbot. They are encouraged to ask their questions there instead of calling.
Because your chatbot has access to all of the information required, it can guide the customer through the resolution to their issue. This technology can apply to various sectors, from telecoms to online stores.
Your customer service chatbot must be helpful, full of advice and knowledgeable.
There is nothing worse than spending time looking for answers only to be lead to a dead end. You chatbot must integrate with all your systems, have access to account details and the ability to know the ins and outs of a customer's enquiry.
It must provide a seamless experience that speeds up the customer interaction and keeps your phone lines free.
Want to learn more? Grab the Beginner's Guide to Customer Service Chatbots
Understanding what makes a good chatbot
Fundamentally, a good chatbot will be designed to serve a particular role. This may be freeing up staff time, improving employee satisfaction, or enhancing customer interactions.
It is good practice to take a step back and look at the chatbot's interactions. Is the chatbot on brand? Does it carry your companies tone of voice? Can it get to know your staff and customers, speak their language?
If you’re in the research phase, I hope this short overview provides you with some answers.
For a deeper understanding, we have a handy checklist that you can use to compare bots that you are either considering or reviewing for comparison's sake. The ubisend chatbot review checklist will help you score chatbots based on their performance and various other measures.