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A Killer Guide To Build a Chatbot

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10 steps that will help you control conversational interfaces

Are you one of those who think Tinder is more than a dating app? Then go ahead and read this article! Tinder swipes to choose or discard people are a turning point for user interfaces. A game changer in mobile devices screens. An interaction that break the rules between users and mobiles. Definetly, a microrevolution.

Tinder is only an example of next big changes in uer interfaces. Move-detection, Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality will drive the real revolution in UI paradigm. But certainly, chatbots are an indicator of this "revolUItion". Chatbots maybe are the most famous and consolidated UI changers: they have set up a new relationship between brands and consumers, a new way to deliver customized experiences and a huge optimization with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

One of chatbot's main adavantage is its ridiculous easy building process. Maybe you can build a chatbot in 72-hour hackathon. But one of its main disadvantages is its ridicolous way to fail with them. After building different size chatbots, at Opentrends we got enough know-how about their conceptualisation, definition, prototyping and development. Are you interested in know them? Read these steps!

1. Set up a transdisciplinary team

A copywriter with a text edition tool is not enough to build a conversation. Writer role is as imporant as an UX expert, UI support profile and, of course a developer who knows chatbot platforms: from native tools to Facebook Messenger, Slack or Whatsapp for Business.

2. Know the brand and its audience

Immersion in your client digital business is essential in order to define chatbot goals. Sometimes, they will tell you their 2 main goals: raise engagement and reduce respose time. It is your moment to go some steps further: explore, interact, fight and discover how your your customer talk on social media, how FAQS are written... Ask wherever you think a chatbot can make users life easier. Observe the relationship between the brand and their audience and viceversa. This analysis is crucial to deliver a solid proposal to satisfy your client KPI's and start building a user-centered chatbot.

Audience Chatbot Opentrends
3. Build an specific chatbot

When we build a bot, we should decide to make it specific: not an ‘all-rounder’, despite the temptation to get overexcited about potential capabilties. According to recent reports, 70% of the 100,000+ bots on Facebook Messenger are failing to fulfil simple user requests. This is partly a result of developers failing to narrow their bot down to one strong area of focus.

Card Sorting exercises are an extraordinary way to define and prioritise what the hell a chatbot will be used for. And also a first approach for tone & voice adaptation. For example: if we need to build a bot to help users to resolve some FAQs, we should know which are the TOP 10 questions, which of them have answers that can be painful for them, which are the harder questions to answer.

4. Adapt to brand's voice & tone

Brands are more than a logo and a naming. They are a set of experiences with multiple user touchpoints and chatbots are one of them. For that reason you better build a chatbot aligned with brand storytelling structure. So create a customized personality and voice tone for this channel. Find brand style guides before write any word or idiomatic expressions, co-create with customers to define it... It can be as easy as difficult as you want.

Every brand has a bot
5. Build a Conversational Tree

Until today, the vast majority of bots are built using decision-tree logic. So it’s time for an UX Designer & Copywriter to align brand, user journeys and technology specs. Conversational trees must include all touchpoints between user and bot, anticipate error messages or user trash talk reactions. You can also identify and mark user moods in these touch points with emoji or basic iconography. That’s very helpful before implementing voice & tone.

We recommend you draw.io for collaborative conversational trees. This deliverable shouldn’t include final content but  conversational tree is also important for aligning workflows between UX and writers. We strongly recommend you using codes to identify content pieces and find them easily in an Excel collaborative document.

6. Write and rewrite. Write and rewrite

Now you have all elements on the table. It's time to write and rewrite. And it's not only about picking the right words to transmit brand voice tone, it's about conversational structure and user feelings in every touchpoint. Focus enabling language to make chatbot usability easier. In other words, UX Writing time to be coherent and make conversational tree usable.

Don't be influenced by robotic words! You write for people and "you-no-want-be-machine"! So write content in a conversational way. Think about wour whatsapp chats, use emojis and visual content to help user talk and browse at the same time in the same user interface.

7. Fast Prototyping

Until now, every step happened in an Excel document and Draw.io conversational tree. They are excellent work documents but aren't exciting enough to show your clients. The best practice to understand a chatbot is showing your customers a chatbot. Put them in the user context and prototype quick. It is essential in bot building processes. There are many free tools for chatbot fast prototyping. One we recommend is Bot Society but it is not 100% reliable. If you prototype with Bot Society be careful with character limitation or image use.

Surfing Chatbot Opentrends
8. Choose a reliable platform

Facebook Messenger is the most popular platform to host a chatbot. But despite what you think it is not the only one. You should choose the one that strategically and technically better suits to your customer needs: Slack, Whatsapp, Twitter, Telegram… a native chatbot? At Opentrends we have invested in Hubtype through our Venture Builder, The Carrot Cake. This chatbot startup headquartered in Barcelona is our best ally to build and manage chatbots. Hubtype has won the 2018 best chatbot company award.

Beyond development, Hubtype allows you an efficient bot management, customised analytics and the most important thing: you take control of conversations with users at any time! And these guys have built an amazing guide to create a facebook Messenger Chatbot in only 3 steps. Our killer guide with their article will be extremely useful to you.

9. Don’t forget VUI

We do not only write for users. We need to get ready to talk them. At Opentrends we built a concept with Google Assistant app to book a meeting room. You can reed the full case study here. But consider chatbot definition as a first step to evolve to a digital voice assistant. If you have worked hard with voice & tone definition, defining a true voice and expressions will be easier.

Google Home Opentrends Chatbot
10. Test me if you can

It maybe sounds obvious but we'll repeat once again: Test will put chatbot (and any product or service) to the place where it belongs. Before its launching, test with as much users as you want your product. No matter if it is a Guerrilla Test or a User Lab. But please, test! It will help you understand audience and will destroy your hypothesis. Because with any doubt, User Killed The Technology Star!