Often when I see people adopt a chatbot into their business, they expect to set it and forget it. They think it’s a one-and-done activity that somehow automatically breeds results on its own. Usually these are the people who buy-in to the pre-built chatbots available on the market. It’s unfortunate that such powerful technology often gets implemented without reaching its full potential. As a consultant, I try to educate people on best practices, so they can get the best bang for their buck. I conducted a webinar in 2018 on how to create engaging conversations for your audiences. 2 years later, people are still making the same mistakes. To help improve your chatbot performance, here are some practical techniques you can use to engage your intended audience.
Look at Your DesignWhenever I visit a website, I see a whole lot of content filling up my browser. Usually there’s a chat icon that sits on the bottom right of the footer, barely noticeable. I guarantee the vast majority of people do not notice the chat icon. Why is that? In design, the visual hierarchy is how your eye reads on a screen from element to element. Take the below example: visual hierarchy depicting the papa/mama/baby bear method In the above example, I use a common design method— Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear and notice in this method there is no “Goldilocks! The “Goldilocks” in this case should be your chatbot, which is better served to not be the center of focus, but rather to augment the core purpose of your content. So, how can we improve that engagement to happen at just the right time, when your audience needs it most?
Trigger an ActivationI often recommend to my clients an auto-activation method where the chatbot pops up, filling a majority of the screen. This activation can take on different forms:
- This activation method can be triggered after a period of time has elapsed once a user lands on your website. It can also trigger once a period of idle activity has elapsed. Say for example, 30 seconds into entry, your chatbot opens up its box asking the user if it needs any help.
- This activation method can be triggered by any user-defined action. Examples might include when a certain button is clicked, or a certain page is visited. You can set the chatbot to engage on specific pricing questions if the user visits a pricing page for a lead generation use case.
Make Reader-Friendly CopyEffective conversations should reflect real-world dialogue. Once you have your audience engaging with chat, if the dialogue experience is bad, they will just close the bubble and continue on their way. Consider the following example. example of good versus bad dialogue writing for chatbot UX Imagine if you were sitting down with someone in a room and they gave you a monologue every time you asked them a question. That’s what is happening the left— we are overloading the audience with way too much text to process. Here is some copy etiquette you can use as a guideline to keep your chatbot from monologuing:
- Keep bot copy simple and casual
- Don’t use jargon if its not necessary. Words like “implement” can be replaced with “use”. Contractions are preferred (“Let’s” instead of “let us”).
- Conversational flow should be 1:1
- Don’t pile on multiple chat dialogues in a row. Give users time to breath in between each line of dialogue. In design, we like to call this whitespace.
- Connect, empathize, and engage
- The bot is talking to a real human. Make sure it treats them as such. Make sure your bot speaks the way your best customer service agent would.
Expand with Multi-MediaAs generations continue to grow, so do their tastes and means for interaction. This is the same for chatbot technology. You now have access to tools beyond just mere text to improve the experience for your audience. Here are a couple of the latest features that delight:
Build in Feedback LoopsSomething that often get thrown to the wayside are the feedback loops you build into your chatbot. Feedback loops are ways to reroute the conversation after it hits a dead-end. This usually happens because of two reasons:
- The audience has met their goal.
- Once their goal is met, have your chatbot prompt them with a simple question, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” This allows them to close the conversation with a no or continue with a different goal in mind.
- If you preferred boxed conversations, then a “Return to Main Menu” button works well here.
- The chatbot was unable to process an audience request.
- Unhandled messages are a way of life for chatbots. Even the most talented engineers cannot possibly predict all human behavior with AI. To combat these unanswered inquiries, you can forward the specific instance to a live representative in your business, whether that be a sales, HR or customer service rep.
- This can be a live transfer or a separate email / phone number for the user to connect to. The important thing is to have a safeguard alternative to keep the conversation going.