An interactive and user-friendly website is critical for business success in this digitally-focused era. However, the prospect of a 24/7 live chat feature can be daunting, especially for small business owners. With the use of a chatbot, on the other hand, you can automate your customer support and build a virtual ambassador for your brand.
A chatbot is an automated alternative to live chat, which enables consumers to reach out to your business with questions and concerns on a 24/7 basis. Visitors to your website can ask questions, and it will provide targeted answers based on a pre-programmed list of responses.
One of the best things about chatbots is their versatility. They can be used on just about any website, although certain sites will benefit from their use the most. This includes businesses that sell digital or physical products, membership sites, and highly technical or specialty sites that require a more hands-on approach to helping out visitors.
Creating a chatbot isn’t too difficult; there are lots of tools designed to simplify the process. What can be a little more challenging is to build a chatbot with a strong personality and brand voice. This is important, however, as it will help distinguish you from the competition and ensure brand consistency in all your business interactions.
To create a chatbot that’s both functional and compelling, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind during the creation process:
Step 1: Understand Your Customer Base
Your customer base comprises your business’ main source of revenue. They are your target audience, and are most likely make repeat purchases. Therefore, it’s important to gain a solid understanding of who these people are and what they want. You’ll also want to know how they tend to interact with support, so your bot can respond more appropriately.
To get you started on the right foot, the first step is to do some preliminary work. This includes:
- Creating a marketing persona. This is a document that clearly outlines who your target audience is (including demographics), what they want and need, and why they’re seeking out your website and business.
- Researching your current customer interactions. How do you (or your brand) currently communicate with customers? Use these interactions, including emails and phone calls, to gain a clearer understanding of the questions your consumers tend to ask.
Once you’ve collected this information, you’ll be prepared to make more informed decisions later in this process. For example, you’ll know whether your customers will respond best to an ambassador persona or organizational brand voice.
Step 2: Choose an Ambassador Persona or an Organizational Brand Voice
Your business communications will tend to take on one of two “voices”—an ambassador persona or an organizational brand voice. An ambassador is typically a personal representative, such as Progressive’s Flo. They’re positioned as a member of your customer support team, with their own name and personality.
Consistency across your brand is crucial, which is why you should decide whether your chatbot will have the persona of an ambassador or be the voice of your entire organizational brand. To make this decision, we recommend that you consider your current business setup carefully.
For example, does one person commonly answer inquiries, and write blog posts and social media content? If so, an ambassador persona makes the most sense. If your marketing and customer support are more of an organizational effort that includes multiple personas, on the other hand, then a brand voice would be a better fit.
Step 3: Use an On-Brand Tone Across Scenarios
The tone your chatbot uses will play a significant role in customer interactions (and make up a large part of the bot’s personality and voice), so it’s important to ensure that it’s on-brand and suited for your audience. This means you must determine what your company’s tone is, then apply that voice across an array of possible scenarios.
How you use tone will vary from business to business. However, we highly recommend that you follow these two tips to get it just right:
- Consult with a copywriter. Copywriters are experts at crafting clever but direct copy. They can help you create various conversation scenarios, and build your chatbot’s responses around the voice you’ve chosen for your brand.
- Consider all possible scenarios. Common chat scenarios include product questions, general brand inquiries, and complaints. You should also consider that potential consumers may ask you to compare your product to your competition’s offerings, and they may even attempt to make small talk.
It’s important to consider that you won’t be able to predict all possible chat scenarios. This is why it’s important to take care with the final step in your chatbot creation process.
Step 4: Collect (and Implement) Consumer Feedback
While you may do all you can to get your chatbot right from the start, you’ll still need to tweak it as you go along if you want it to remain effective. One of the best ways to improve chatbot/user interactions is by collecting customer feedback. With this feedback in hand, you can make informed changes to your current chatbot setup.
To collect feedback effectively, you’ll want to:
- Include a “That’s not what I asked” button. Chatbot buttons can improve interactions, and also alert you to problems with your current chat setup. For example, you can include a button that lets you know when your chatbot isn’t able to satisfactorily answer a visitor’s query, so you can improve in those areas.
- Create customer feedback surveys. A survey that appears at the end of a chatbot interaction can help you to understand how well you’re doing. It’s best to keep this kind of survey short and focused, to avoid overwhelming visitors.
You may find that customer feedback surveys aren’t filled out as often as you’d like. One way to increase the feedback you get is to offer an incentive, such as a small percentage off the customer’s next purchase.
Now more than ever, it’s important that consumers can easily access the information they’re looking for about your products and services. One of the best ways to enable this on your website is through the use of chatbots, which are a handy automated alternative to live chat.
Do you have any questions about chatbots, or how they can improve your current customer service interactions? Let us know in the comments section below!