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Five common mistakes to avoid when building a conversational bot

Next-Gen Technology

Launching your first conversational chatbot is like starting a new business. There's loads of preparation and trepidation, but you're bound and determined to make it work. You conduct your research and hone your strategy, knowing that the more effort you apply early on, the more your venture will benefit in the end.

Similar to new businesses, bots may not always be a resounding success right out of the gate either. With a number of common errors and missteps, it can be challenging to achieve your customer service goals.

However, if you know the potential pitfalls to watch out for, you're far more likely to be able to avoid them. Here are five common mistakes to steer clear of to give your conversational bot the best shot at successfully alleviating strain on your contact center and increasing customer satisfaction.

1. Automating for the sake of automation

It's easy to see why so many companies are investing in chatbots nowadays. According to research firm Gartner, brands that leverage a chatbot as part of their overall customer service strategy see a 70% reduction in call, chat, and email queries, along with increased customer satisfaction.

Using chatbots to automate responses to repetitive customer inquiries not only helps to alleviate high volumes but also frees your agents to address more complex issues. Conversational bots are also available around the clock, which enables consumers to access the desired information and complete tasks faster than if they were to seek answers manually.

It's clear that chatbots add value to your customer experience — but only if they're introduced strategically. The most powerful bot strategy aims to complement, not replace, the human agent. This includes using chatbots designed with natural language processing and sentiment analysis to identify when customers are frustrated in order to route them directly to human agents for assistance. The result is more personalized, efficient and consistent interactions.

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2. Setting it and forgetting it

As with other forms of artificial intelligence, chatbots don't lend themselves to a "set it and forget it" mindset — they require constant fine tuning in order to remain as accurate and efficient as possible.

Expect to regularly monitor and optimize your bot to ensure it's functioning flawlessly to accommodate consumers' evolving needs and expectations. Chatbot performance and quality can vary dramatically from one company to the next, largely because many brands overlook the importance of tuning the bot's workflow. Machine learning enables autonomous conversational bots to adapt to different situations based on previous interactions and outcomes — but it's not a flawless technology, and mistakes can occur.

Rather than reacting to a poor customer experience when a conversational bot has gone awry, monitor its activity to proactively solve issues before they affect customers. Adjusting its user interface and the workflow based on agent insights, consumer feedback and shifting business goals is a must to keep customers satisfied.

3. Not giving your customers a choice

While many consumers prefer to interact with a chatbot rather than a human agent, your customers shouldn't be forced into this experience, nor should they be trapped in a bot interaction with no way to escape.

This can be a critical mistake, particularly when you are first introducing a chatbot to your customer service 'line-up'. Companies eager to put the new technology to use sometimes fail to realize that some customers may still prefer more traditional channels.

With this in mind, always offer the option to switch from a bot to a live agent, and ensure your system is set up to seamlessly transfer queries to a human as requested. Your customers will appreciate the ability to select the channel that meets their individual preferences and needs.

4. Lack of personality

Since your chatbot is an extension of your brand, it should embody its core attributes — starting with personality.

Consumers deal with smart speakers and virtual assistants on a regular basis, and respond better to a chatbot that's not boring. Infusing a bot with personality through natural, on-brand language can make it fun, and not simply informative. Depending on the nature of your company, you might even consider incorporating humor. Your chatbot may be a machine, but the ultimate goal is always to make a human connection.

5. Not measuring your chatbot's performance

Just like other customer service channels, a conversational bot's performance should be measured on an ongoing basis to ensure it's operating as intended.

Activation rate, retention rate, response rate, number of active users and number of daily user sessions are just a few of the chatbot KPIs you should be measuring to help achieve peak performance. Start by defining the KPIs that best reflect your customer service goals, then measure your success rate regularly. This process will reveal where you may need to make improvements in order to achieve benchmarks.

When operating at the height of their potential, conversational bots improve the overall customer experience and serve to complement your other customer service channels. Whether you've already launched a conversational bot or plan to in the near future, keep these common mistakes in mind. You'll be rewarded with a better outcome and return on investment, while your customers will benefit from a chatbot experience worthy of their time.

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