Not to be confused with live-chat software, chatbots are a form of AI, or artificial intelligence, that facilitate self-help on a website. Chatbots are powered by a combination of website programming (how and when the chatbot will be activated or accessed by the site visitor) and content (the information the chatbot will convey during the interaction).
A chatbot can be there for your customers when you can’t. It can simultaneously manage multiple conversations with different people, reducing or even eliminating the need to hire staff or outsource customer service. Get it right, and your chatbot can increase conversions and move potential customers through the buying journey by extending instant special offers, directing them to subscribe, and even suggesting add-ons and upgrades at the point of sale.
That all sounds good, right? If you’re ready to enjoy the benefits chatbots can bring to your small business and its internet marketing strategy, building it is the next step. But do you know how to build a chatbot?
5 Steps to Building the Best Chatbot for Your Business
1. Anticipate the questions site visitors will want your chatbot to answer.
The point of having a chatbot is to engage site visitors and provide them with the information they need to take the next step. To do this, you need to think about your chatbot as a member of your customer-service team. This entity needs to be able to answer the questions that site visitors are most likely to ask. Here are some key places where you can collect and curate this content:
- Team brainstorming sessions – what have people asked before?
- Focus groups made up of customers and prospects
- From your FAQ web page
- From customer-service scripts
- Based on the “next step” you want the site visitor to take (closing questions, special offers, buying add-ons and upgrades, etc.)
- User testing sessions as you prepare to launch your chatbot
2. Decide what information your chatbot should share.
Now that you have a pretty good idea of the information people will be looking for when they interact with your website, you need to decide what information your chatbot will be allowed to share. You’ll also need to come up with a strategy for when site visitors ask questions you don’t want your chatbot to answer. For instance, if your website strategy includes gating some of your content (like pricing) in order to get site visitors to fill out a form, book a demonstration, or contact a member of your team, then your chatbot shouldn’t share this information. Instead, it should direct the site visitor to fill out the form, book the demo, or reach out to your team by email or phone.
3. Give your chatbot a personality.
Rudimentary chatbots can come off like automated voice-answering systems, which can be a big turn-off to site visitors and frustrate the sales process. Ideally, when someone interacts with your chatbot online they will believe they are talking to someone, not something.
To do this, your chatbot needs to have a clear and consistent voice and personality that align with your brand overall. If your brand is serious and authoritative, your chatbot shouldn’t sound like the class clown. Conversely, if your brand is casual, your chatbot shouldn’t sound like a lecturing professor.
Taking all the content you’ve collected for your chatbot and making it conversational could be challenging and time-consuming. Work with a web content writer who can transform even highly technical answers and scripts into conversational banter aligned with your brand identity.
4. Find a home for your chatbot.
Decide whether your chatbot will be available to site visitors on every page or only select pages (like product pages) so it can be programmed correctly on your website. In addition, think about how it needs to act. Will it automatically pop up right away? Or when a site visitor scrolls down, clicks on, or hovers over specific content? Or even at the point they start to navigate away from a page?
5. Assign ownership.
Essentially, your website’s chatbot is a real-time contact form and customer-service concierge. Its interactions with customers contain valuable content as well as potentially vital information when it comes to producing sales, avoiding customer- service snafus, and so on. Before your chatbot goes live, assign responsibility within your team for:
- Actively monitoring chatbot conversations and/or reviewing transcripts in a timely manner
- Using information to fuel and refine future chatbot interactions
- Sharing information with sales staff for follow-up
- Making process improvements in sales and customer service
Building a chatbot for your website can help your business grow to the next level. Not only can it provide 24-hour customer care and motivate prospects to take the next step, it can also help you improve the customer experience online and off.
If you could build a chatbot for your website today, what would its primary mission be? Tell us in the comments below!