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Straight answers to the 10 most important questions about getting started with chatbots

Know Before You Bot

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Chapter 9

How do I launch the bot?

Start slowly to mitigate risk. For example, deploy your bot on a few less-trafficked pages first and monitor its progress. Gradually tune it and make any necessary adjustments based on real-world experience before extending it to pages with more activity.

Manage your customer’s expectations, especially when deploying a bot for the first time. Including a message like “I’m still learning, but I can help you with X, Y, Z” alongside the bot’s regular greeting will let users know what the bot is currently capable of. Setting these expectations upfront will reduce frustration later on.

Chatbots should be designed for possible misunderstandings. Set specific error messages just in case these misunderstandings happen (and they will!) to get the user back on track without starting at the beginning. Give your customers the option (and easy instructions on how) to start over or return to the main menu.

Know before you bot

Program your chatbot to deal proactively with any ambiguities and misunderstandings. If your chatbot detects various keywords and is unsure of a response, have the bot clarify with your customer before offering them an answer.

As seen in this example, while KB is short for Knowledge Base, this bot hasn’t been programmed to recognize the acronym. The related questions it offers are still relevant and are a great way to adapt and suggest a possible next step. This way, visitors will have other questions to choose from.

Know before you bot

Conversations aren’t linear. Allow space for users to change their mind, ask another question, or switch from a serious conversation to small talk. Make your chatbot flexible; prepare it to deal with interruptions.

When you’re ready to launch externally, remember to tell your customers about it! It’s not always a case of ‘if you build it, they will come’. Let your customers know you have a bot through your usual methods of mass communication such as an email campaign, a newsletter, a ‘What’s New’ video, or through social media.

Consider this

Your vendor should be able to advise you on how best to take the training wheels off your bot. You’re likely not their first customer, so don’t be shy about asking for their guidance.