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Chatbots are applications of the future. For those of you who are not familiar with chatbots, they are computer programs which mimic human conversation with software users. In many cases, users may not even realize that they are chatting with a customer service chatbot and not a real human being! Chatbots are very helpful to both established companies and grassroots startups as they free up staff time and resources by addressing customer questions and concerns.

In addition, chatbots will record and track the conversations, which can help with process improvement initiatives in the back end. Furthermore, chatbots can be quite fun to build and develop. They can even take on human personality traits! The world is your oyster when it comes to building a chatbot for your business.

In order to help get you started, here are six user-friendly chatbot best practices for developers to follow:

1. Always Keep the User in Mind

This chatbot best practice sounds extremely obvious, but you would be surprised as to how many businesses do not do this enough. Before you embark on the extensive process of developing a chatbot, ask yourself “what do my clients need?” What do your clients need from you in terms of support? Do they need a lot of hands-on help? Are they able to work through their questions with a chatbot?

In order to help determine whether a chatbot is needed (or even wanted!), consider whether the chatbot will help automate a process which is currently done by employees. Also, consider whether the chatbot will allow the optimization of addressing user concerns. If the chatbot is not able to improve on those things for your business, perhaps you need to skip it.

2. Be Careful of Widening the Scope

In order to ensure that you achieve a satisfactory chatbot experience for your users, you need to make sure you have a clear scope of the conversation. For instance, narrowing your chatbot’s scope to assisting with password resets or making reservations will make for a more user-friendly experience.

On the other hand, programming your chatbot to have open-ended conversations around a variety of subjects, is not ideal as it allows room for error. This is something you should stay away from as your users will likely not get their issues addressed appropriately, and it will simply frustrate them further. In order to avoid having a lot of disappointed users, consider limiting your scope to the most important services that a chatbot can offer.

3. Make Sure you Amp up Human-Like Behaviour

Although you make it very clear to your users that your chatbot is not human, your customers will expect “human-like” behaviour. You should include some humour and personality into your chatbot so they are sure to wow your users. For instance, you can try incorporate some humorous and cheeky behaviour to your chatbot by having them act offended at swear words.

Also, you can have the chatbot welcome return users by saying something to the effect of “nice to see you again.” This is one of the best chatbot best practices that can instantly impress your users.

4. Don’t be Scared to Admit that You Don’t Know Something

Our human fear of being called out as not knowing enough often translates to chatbot behaviour as well. We don’t want our chatbots to look misinformed or appear to lack any expertise. However, there is nothing wrong with having the chatbot reply with “I don’t know” or “Hmm, let me check!” when they don’t have the answer on hand. This is much better than your chatbot writing some nonsensical answers that can throw your users off.

5. Keep the Conversation Requirements Short and Sweet

Your customers want answers. However, at the same time, they don’t want to do too much work around obtaining those answers. When customers see the chat box, they don’t want to type too many words. Have your users include one word versus four words. This will undoubtedly create more work for you on the backend, where you will need to build an algorithm that correctly interprets the intent of their question. Although this requires more work on your part, it is sure to keep your users happy.

6. Avoid Repetition!

Since a chatbot is not an actual human, it is easy to have them recycle the same stock responses. However, this is a sure way to frustrate your users and to discourage them from working with your company again. As such, you need to ensure that you have multiple responses available for each node, which allows the chatbot to randomly pick from them every time. Mix it up as much as possible!

Chatbots are a wonderful tool to help elevate your business. The most important thing to do is to keep the user experience in for forefront. After all, the chatbots are made for them!

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