Mia Schulz of OBI4wan discusses how a contact centre can build its own chatbot.
The decision is made – you want to implement a chatbot within your organization. The good news is that new chatbot platforms make it increasingly easy to take things into your own hands and build your own chatbot. But there are still things you need to consider upfront.
What are the things you should ask yourself before you start, and what is the best way to approach a new chatbot project?
I spoke to Chatbot Platform Product Owner Jorn Koster and Customer Experience Manager Remy Christiaan at OBI4wan about what it takes to build your own chatbot.
What Should You Ask Yourself Before Building a Chatbot?
First things first – before going into the development process of your chatbot, it is important to set a clear goal. The goal will guide you throughout the process and will also help you assess the success of your chatbot once it is up and running.
“Think about your goal and what you want to achieve, which current problem do you want to solve, and then find out what a chatbot can do for you,” says Remy Christiaan, Customer Experience Manager at OBI4wan.
For instance, you might struggle with the increasing number of messages you receive via the live chat on your website. You want to answer all questions as quickly as possible but you are lacking the resources. You are looking for a solution to provide the best possible service and you are thinking that a chatbot might help by answering some of the questions.
To get a clear picture of whether a chatbot is the right solution, start by analysing and categorizing the type of messages you receive on the specific channel and see where a chatbot could provide value. Not every question is suitable for a chatbot, but a lot are.
How Do I Start to Build the Actual Chatbot?
Once you have analysed the messages that you have received from customers in the past and made your selection of questions that the chatbot should answer, it’s time to write the chatbot dialogues.
Technologies like OBI Bots Platform lets you build conversations directly in the dialogue designer of the interface. Here you add questions and the answers that the chatbot will give.
“Think of it as a real conversation between two people. So write it like you speak to someone and give it a personal touch. You can also add some fun elements if it suits the context.” – Remy.
For each intent (the goal that a customer had in mind when contacting you) you need to provide several examples of how the customer would express this to you. If the intent is “ordering a pizza” you can, for example, add: I want to order a pizza, I want to buy a pizza, I want to have a pizza delivered.
“The good thing is that you can create the whole bot from one page. The dialogue builder lets you add the intents and build the conversations and it shows in one overview what your bot does, which makes the whole process very easy and intuitive,” says Jorn Koster, Chatbot Platform Product Owner at OBI4wan.
How Do I Make Sure My Chatbot Works?
After designing the conversations, you need to train the bot so that it recognizes the user’s intent correctly and provides the right answer. Within good chatbot platforms the training is done automatically. You only need to press the “Train Bot” button.
“During the training phase, the bot creates a new language model based on the examples you gave for each user intent. The model helps it recognize questions even if they vary from the example you provided.” – Jorn.
After training and before releasing your bot to the public, you need to test it and make sure it does what you want it to do.
“Test it with your colleagues and family or friends. It is good to include some people in your test panel that don’t know anything about the bot upfront. During the test phase you learn what is going well and what needs to be improved,” says Remy.
The testing is not finished once the bot is released. It is an ongoing process. Remy emphasizes: “Keep a close eye on the chatbot conversations and monitor how people respond. If you discover any issues, maybe change some words and check again.”
To make the testing process easier for you, the interface of good bot platforms will features a “Test Centre” that shows actual bot conversations. In this way, you can regularly go through new conversations and evaluate and mark each one regarding intent recognition. This will allow the bot to learn to recognize intents better and better.
Can I Build the Chatbot Completely by Myself or Do I Need a Team?
Innovative chatbot platforms let you build chatbots completely without coding. So you don’t need an IT or technical background to develop a chatbot, but there are some good reasons to set up a project team.
Remy advises: “If you are building a chatbot for customer service and you are not a customer service agent yourself, make sure you involve someone from the customer service team who knows the customers.”
“Customer service agents know the questions and how to answer them in the best possible way. If it is a lead-generation bot, your marketing and sales department will know best how to approach customers.”
Jorn adds: “It is also handy to have someone from IT involved when it comes to building custom integrations with your internal systems.”
Get Started With Your First Chatbot Right Away
Now it’s time for action – experience yourself how it is to build a chatbot and how it helps you provide better customer service.
One final bit of advice would be to pick a chatbot platform that lets you create and deploy chatbots in days instead of months, completely without coding.