Increasingly, chatbots of businesses and organizations across the world pop up on our screens. You most likely have heard that they save staff time, business resources, improve customer service, and sales go up. You are told that customers expect your business to be online 24/7 and to provide them with an instant digital self-service solution. Various reports and analyses point to this solution also. It looks like this is the right time for a chatbot for your business.
Creating a chatbot on your own sounds like a great idea. You register an account on one of the many do-it-yourself platforms, you start adding texts, pictures, links, files. There are enough guides and tutorials on Youtube and the overall internet, and there are at least a dozen or so good DIY chatbot platforms on the market right now with their own instructions too.
There are some tips to make sure the job will be well done. There is also a range of to-do tasks to go through. Have you determined what the chatbot will do? Have you selected the functionalities that will serve your business needs? Also, make sure to schedule in your calendar blocks of time to work continuously on the project and have a team member or, better, a team in charge of this project.
Let’s assume that you are done with the planning by this moment and know the processes in your chatbot, how to structure the information, and have written it black on white before you enter the platform and start clicking.
Wait a minute, now it sounds complicated. Isn’t easier for someone else to do it and maintain it?
Here are some questions to help you decide which way to go – to create and maintain the chatbot yourself, assign this job to a “freelancer a friend of mine knows”, or trust an expert, a chatbot service provider.
Most platforms allow the creation of a basic chatbot (without AI and integrations) without any programming skills. They offer one way or another visual assistance for creating a chatbot. Combine different boxes, links, pictures, and other elements – it looks easy. This way however you can make a basic chatbot, nothing more.
For a chatbot to be good in terms of functionality, beneficial to the business, staff, and the customers – with conversational AI, built-in request forms, and other automated through the chatbot tasks, you will need to know to a program to integrate your basic bot with conversational Ai or else. One platform that makes this job easier is Umni as it allows the business to create, maintain and train an AI chatbot with various built-in forms in it without any technical skills.
Most platforms offer some type of statistics. Usually, it comes down to how many times a link has been clicked, possibly how many men and how many women have visited the bot, how many visitors, in general, there are, maybe also from which country they are.
But the number of people who visited the chatbot does not really answer whether they just entered the bot without writing a single message in it.
It is much more important to know how many people returned to your bot this month, how much time they spent in it, how many messages they exchanged, what they searched for, and at what time of day… If you really want to know what happens in your chatbot, then you need access to a platform that would provide this type of feedback on customer behavior from your chatbot. Such a platform with detailed statistics and the possibility for easy no-code chatbot content management is provided by Umni.
The chatbot is not a list of answered questions in an instant message and is not a repetition of the website.
The essence of a chatbot is to chat – when people ask questions, to understand them, and to answer them with the right information. Many chatbot platforms offer the addition of basic keyword recognition. However, the chatbot only catches one keyword in the sentence. Working with keywords in this way often causes the chatbot to respond incorrectly and appear „dull“.
Let’s take this example.
Let’s say the keyword is a park (like a park, for walks).
In this example, if a person writes Where is the nearest park? the chatbot will respond correctly and provide information about the park.
However, what if the user wrote Where can I park my car?, or Where to park in the city? The chatbot will again tell him where the park is, which will be wrong and in other cases could lead to problems.
Of course, you can write word combinations or entire sentences instead of keywords. However, the chatbot will only understand them if there is a 100% match. This will not work because you do not know exactly how the user would structure the sentence and what mistakes he would make while typing.
What you can do to solve the above issue is to integrate into the chatbot an external AI tool (from a conversational AI provider) to help understand what the user is writing and to give the right answer. Here you are facing again plenty of reading, learning, programming, and a lot of testing (if you use an external connector such as Janice then knowing how to do the settings) to get the chatbot to talk to its external “brain”.
The easiest way to train an AI chatbot is to give it to someone to train it for you, and you just would provide the information needed. This shall be someone for whom this is a daily routine and knows how to do it properly, which is what an expert or a company that focuses on AI chatbots does.
However, if you want to start small or on a budget, you better make it yourself. The Umni platform makes it as easy as 1-2-3 to train the conversational AI in your bot and everything is in one place in your account, there is no need for additional integrations.
By the way, if you still want someone to help you start with the top 100 customer questions, you still can ask the Umni team. Umni may have also pre-trained sets of questions to help you start fast.
This is a serious topic. With a little more work, the chatbot can be made GDPR compliant, but do you know if you are GDPR compatible? Is this freelancer you hired GDPR compliant? Are the tools used by this freelancer and the location where the information is stored GDPR compliant? Does he himself have GDPR relations with you?
Isn’t better to work with a company that already has the answers to these questions?
IMPORTANT !!! Before you start working on your chatbot, make sure you can create it and maintain it from a GDPR perspective. If you choose to trust someone else for your chatbot, then ask for a Personal Data Processing Agreement between your company and him/her/them.
If you create your AI chatbot on the Umni platform, the customer information collected in the prebuilt forms disappears from the chatbot widget as soon as the customer clicks “Send” and you get it in your email box.
If you have decided to have a basic chatbot with several buttons and links, nothing new would happen in it, or you would update something from time to time, with no special functionalities in it, then skip this point.
The life and the development of a good chatbot begin at the time of its “birth” – its activation online. From this point, the chatbot requires monthly technical and content care – to add dynamic information (for marketing and sales purposes), to maintain and further develop content and functionalities, and to train it:
- Update answers, pricing, and other information
- Adding new topics to the AI module based on conversation history with customers. The more topics you have, the “smarter” your chatbot becomes.
- Bot re-training – fixing misunderstood issues
- Creating and deploying bot-specific promotions valid for the chatbot users
- Monitor and support request forms and other functionalities if the bot has such (integrations with SMS, or other platforms, and any other chatbot integrations and connections)
- Technical adaptation of the chatbot to the changes in its digital ecosystem (other software, platforms, CRM or booking systems, messenger, etc.).
Modern technologies are evolving very dynamically, and any change in the chatbot platform where the bot is live – on Facebook, in a messenger, in external applications with which your chatbot is integrated, may require adapting or reconfiguring the chatbot to continue to function. It may be a better option to have your chatbot on your website in order to have as much control over it as possible.
Remember, the chatbot is a dynamic software solution that is a combination of technologies that come together to accomplish tasks, not a complete standalone software installed on someone’s computer.
If you want someone to successfully deal with all these dynamics on behalf of you, this is for sure a job for an AI chatbot specialized provider. Many IT companies add a chatbot to their service list, but chatbots are not the focus of their business. Digital marketing agencies that offer a chatbot service limit its use to its most basic functionalities, mainly for short-term marketing purposes. Freelancers work on a piece-by-piece basis and only undertake the configuration of a chatbot, rarely would engage with the maintenance and further development of the chatbot.
On the opposite, Umni has its focus on conversational AI for digital assistants, providing the businesses with access to Umni’s chatbot content management platform, where without any technical knowledge they can:
- Easily add or change business information
- With one click, connect the AI answer to another chatbot section such as to request forms, pricing, etc. to direct users to action,
- With a few clicks, create and manage modules for promotion, pricing of services, and more that appear straight into the chatbot,
- Access live chat statistics about the user behavior on the chatbot
** If the specifics of your chatbot require a different approach, Umni experts will do their best to provide a personalized solution…
Wonderful! You have a chatbot or have access to a platform, to manage and develop it yourself. And now what?
The chatbot does not search for users on its own. You must direct them to it so that it may do the work for which it was created. Do you know any good practices and interesting ideas on how to position a chatbot online and offline to attract users to it? How to promote the AI chatbot on your website?
If your bot is integrated into social media… Do you follow the changes on Facebook (or other messenger platforms) from a chatbot marketing point of view – what and when can be done in a chatbot and what are the restrictions, so as not to break any rules of the platform and to get your chatbot or business account in trouble? What will be the effect of any feature changes on the functionality of your chatbot?
Do you know what the 24 hours rule means for Facebook chatbots and what messages you can send via bot to your customers? Are there technical or other loopholes in the rules and what are they?
If you do not know the answers to these questions and do not have the time to read daily various platform documentation, chatbot blogs, forums, and case studies to gain interesting, useful, and up-to-date information from them, you better work with those who can help you and provide you with such information, process and collect it for you.
For example, Umni provides its clients with a collection of helpful ideas and tips for promoting a chatbot. Customers receive current news and updates by email.
Here is a tip you probably didn’t think about:
Set your website to show a pop-up with attractive text and image, call-to-action, pointing to the chatbot for more when the user tries to close the page.
We hope this article has been useful for you to navigate and avoid the many common mistakes associated with creating and using an AI chatbot.
The day your chatbot is life is only the beginning – every month you would need to maintain, develop, train it and promote it… Do it right from the beginning.
** This article was published originally in 2020 and have been updated to its current version