Bots are growing fast and are the new way companies talk to their customers. Here I will try to give you some simple tips to save months on the process of learning how to make a bot.
If you are here, you probably know what a bot is, anyway, let’s give a quick look.
A bot or chatbot is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that can carry on a conversation, written or vocal. The aim of the bot is to simulate how humans would behave with a conversational partner, in order to improve the customers’ experience. Is this it? Not quite.
Bots can be used to improve companies’ performances, from collecting information about users, helping to organize the work and reducing costs.
If you want more information about what a chatbot is, click here.
Now, remember, make a bot is like making a good wine, you have to create it, give it its own personality, chose the bottle, design the label and then taste it and adjust it according to the result you want to reach.
Before we start working, let’s give a look behind the scene of our chatbot to make sure we all are on the same page.
A chatbot returns a response based on input from a user. Basically, it carries on two tasks:
1. User request analysis or identify the user intent
2. Returning a coherent response
The capability of your bot to identify the user’s intent and extract data according to the user request shall be at the center of your attention. If the bot doesn’t correctly understand what the user wants, it won’t be able to provide an answer.
Once the bot has understood the user intent, it needs to return an appropriate response.
Basically, what you have to do here is to find the best way to execute this process and make it usable from your customers. This task looks easy but is quite complex when put in practice.
No fear no more, after you’ve read this article everything will be clear.
I find “how to” lists very comforting, I hope you guys share the same feeling.
Here is my list of actions to make a bot in an effective, and easy way.
1. Set a goal: why you want to make a bot?
This seems a pretty obvious one, but you need to have the final work in mind before starting.
Who is your audience? What are their needs? Why you want to make a bot? You need to settle the best-case scenario for the audience and what actions you want them to take to create the experience. Only once you know what you want your users to do, you will be capable to set up a path for them to follow.
2. Design and prototype your bot
You will soon find out that creativity and tech are complementary in a great chatbot creation process. A lot of your focus will be on making your bot as human-like as possible, give it a personality (a good one) and a smooth functionality.
Second, you need to give it a good visual, in fact using images to illustrate your chatbot enhance greatly your chances to hook your user’s interest.
Obviously, if your bot is a voice-based one, like Alexa or Google Assistant, visual is not the focus. In this case, the personality of your bot will be crucial, try to make your bot funny, with a good sense of humor.
Finally, you need to identify all the possible conversations with users. A lot of people think that chatbots can’t really understand their needs. Your challenge when you make a bot is to identify all the applicable scenarios and find good a way to handle all the off-topic and unclear questions.
It can take quite some brain-stretching to create a clear, cohesive and useful setting. This is why a prototype is useful for finding clarity and direction during the chatbot design process. This part is extremely important, and I believe that the more you will be precise in doing it, the more your bot has the chance to be successful.
Fortunately, there are tools that make our creator’s life easier! All you need to do is click on Botsociety and start designing your bot. The platform is extremely flexible and goes from free services to highly customized one, according to your needs.
It is intuitive and simple to manage; this allows your creative team and different parts of your group to easily interact with it. The flows that you design will instantly appear in your prototype. You can revise your work and determine if you’re on the right path before handing your work over to development. Human work plays a key role when making your bot. No matter what your approach to the platform is, your team intervention is crucial in configuring, testing and optimizing the chatbot.
To recap, these are the things that you should keep in mind when you make a bot:
• Define your bot personality
• Make it talk like a human
• Chose a good visual
• Identify any possible conversation with users
Once you are happy with your work you can easily import and export your designs to the technology used by your developers, whichever it is. If you decide to develop your bot from scratch, you will have access to Botsociety API for your custom codebase.
3. Develop the bot
This is the part where you finally make it happen! All right let’s see how.
There are different ways and tools that you can use to develop a chatbot.
Remember when I said that your bot needs to understand the user intent? To do that you need an NLP (Natural Language Processing) interface. NLP is the ability of computers to understand and process human language. When it comes to chatbots, NLP determines the user’s intention and extracts the information from the conversation in order to execute and complete a task.
The choice at this stage is using readymade chatbot software or building a custom bot from scratch.
1. Using chatbot builder platforms
There are many platforms providing all the necessary features to create a bot. Among the most popular, I can think of dialogflow or Microsoft botframework. Thank to these platforms you can create the bot and decide where you want to publish it. Some popular chatbot publishing platforms are Slack, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Kik, and Telegram.
This solution is very good if you have a limited budget and limited developer skills.
2. Building a custom bot from scratch
If you want to go this way, either you are a programmer, or you will need to hire a software development company. This method involves work with code, manual integration with messengers and customization.
Making a bot from scratch requires significant investments in terms of time and money. The advantages are higher customization, total control on your data, better customer experience.
4. Testing & Data Analysis
As we said, make a bot is like making wine, and only time will lead you to perfection. Your bot design is not going to be ready at the first attempt. You will need to test it before within the company and after with the existing customers, listen to their feedback and adjust. Analyze your data and make improvements is as important as designing the bot.
Now that you know how to make a bot, go there and create the best out of it!