How to make a good chatbot

How to make a good chatbot

Hi folks, the wave of chatbot is here, the phrase: “I am going to make an app that does …” is more often being replaced by: “I am going to make a chatbot that does …”


Though it is logical and much better to provide services with chatbots instead of apps, it is not as simple as one thinks and if the chatbot is created poorly, it may actually be worse than an app that shows nothing but the homepage of the business.

The poorly made chatbots usually have the following characteristics:

  • Sounds like google: “What can I help you with today: “, as soon as you provide the answer, the reply pops up with what you are looking for, with limited possibility of carrying a conversation.
  • Sounds like a webform in chat format: “OK, so you want to do this, can you tell me A?”, the user provides the answer to A and then: “Thanks, can you tell me B?”, and the answer to B is provided, and so on, until the user has punched in all the answers from A to Z. (Imagine the frustration when the user finds out that the chatbot can’t help them after all the answer is provided and then refer you to a human colleague.)
  • Sounds like a receptionist: “Thanks for your inquiry, but unfortunate am I not able to help with your request, please contact one of our colleague at …”

There are two key elements in a chatbot that is often ignored:

  • The human touch: How to package the service into a conversation that is human like.
  • The knowledge base: Without a good knowledge base, there will be no service to provide.

The human touch

A lot of chatbots were made with an app mentality which is to provide the service using chat format. Note that once you are on the chatbot game, the purpose is no longer just to provide the service, but actually to build customer relationship (there are many who try also to build customer relationship with apps, good luck with that). Imagine how you feel going into a service desk trying to get something done and then was met with many questions that makes you feel more interrogated than serviced. The experience could be much better if instead a nice conversation carryed through the service process and the questions were embedded into the conversation.

Some quick suggestions:

  • Spend some time designing on the conversation flow, to make it as human like as possible. Research shows that even though customers was being serviced by a chatbot they still expect the same level of service as if it was by a human CSR. This investment has an unlimited ROI as a good service is what keeps customers on the chatbot which will provide the upside of the ROI.
  • Try to have a dynamic way of gathering information based on the incoming message, tone, and customer. It may be more complex technically, but it is actually what separates a good chatbot and a bad chatbot.

Don’t worry that customer think is is timewasting to have a conversation with the chatbot, should the customer be in a hurry and knows exactly what he / she wants, they would have used the app. Besides, when the chat session is connected to some sort of sentiment analysis, it would be easier to pick up an impatient customer and kick off the alternative chat flow.

The knowledge base

Do you know anyone who can carry a good conversation without a good (or any) knowledge base? I do, his name is Donald Trump (Ok, bad joke). But seriously, a good conversation flow alone doesn’t cut it for anyone who are looking for help.

To build a knowledge base, you need data, you need training and lots of training, then you need to test run it internally before it creates enough confidence to roll out to the public. The testing of a knowledge base is something new and only exists in machine learning og cognitive systems. To those who were not aware of the time it requires, and struggle with a deadline to launch, the risk of rolling out a chatbot which is not properly trained is high. Unfortunately, to roll out a chatbot that is not ready is worse than not rolling out a chatbot at all.

Try also not to make a knowledge base that can “everything”, the training will be exponentially more complex and time consuming. Try to stay focused and rather start the conversation by stating what the chatbot can help with.

Chatbot is a fun topic and the possibility is endless, do it correctly and you will have happy customers who are excited to save cost for your business.


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