9 Steps to Create a Winning Chatbot Strategy


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Monday, October 31, 2022

Chatbots are increasingly popular, but businesses must have a clear strategy to enable them to fulfil their potential and improve the customer experience.

Article 7 Minutes
9 Steps to Create a Winning Chatbot Strategy

Chatbots seem to be everywhere on the internet, and with good reason. These machine learning programs are an effective way to communicate with customers instantly and address any issues as they arise. But as with all elements of your online strategy, chatbot implementation must be carried out in a measured way, designed to meet your business’ goals.

A survey from CGS found 29% of customers looking to have a query answered quickly would choose a chatbot over other channels. This demonstrates how chatbots can streamline the customer experience (CX) and move leads onto the next stage of the funnel if they fulfil their potential.

Get it right and your chatbot project should:

  • Manage conversations at scale
  • Reduce customer service costs
  • Increase personalization
  • Boost the CX

The benefits of having an effective chatbot strategy

Companies all over the world are embracing marketing technology solutions due to the numerous business advantages they offer.

According to IFP’s State of Marketing Operations in 2022 report, over the next 12 months, businesses plan to invest in tools such as data analytics (38.77%), marketing automation (37.80%), CMS (22.01%) and chatbot software (19.62%).

IFP visualisation showing the number of respondents making use of different marketing ops tools

Here are some key ways your business can benefit from having an effective chatbot strategy:

  • Streamline customer engagement: Engage customers at any time by offering solutions to common queries or proactively initiating conversations with customers.
  • Reduce operational costs: Bots are capable of managing conversations at scale during peak business hours. This can help you reduce costs associated with additional manpower and resources.
  • Increase personalization: Conversational bots can offer personalized recommendations to your website visitors, which can improve their experience and boost lead generation.
  • Deliver superior customer experiences: Combining artificial intelligence (AI) with a human touch allows modern businesses to meet the demands of their customers through seamless support services.

9 steps to implement a successful chatbot strategy

For your bot project to be a success, here are several steps you need to follow to design and implement an effective chatbot strategy:

1. Identify your goals

While there are many benefits of having a chatbot on your website, you need to be clear from the outset what they are and how your business will leverage them. Identifying your primary and secondary goals will help to inform decisions and shape your bot throughout its development.

Your main drivers may include:

  • Processing audience queries quickly
  • Automating customer support
  • Boosting sales
  • Improving your brand’s reputation

Your chatbot strategy should always keep your customer in mind, with the overall CX remaining front and center of your mission. Tackling their pain points and reducing the time it takes to navigate through the buying process will be seen favorably. Concentrate on what chatbots can do that other channels can’t and you’ll be building strong foundations for your strategy.

2. Analyze the competitive landscape

It’s not cheating to look at how competitors have rolled out their chatbot strategies - it’s essential. Testing real-life examples of chatbots both in your industry and others gives you a user’s eye view of how they work, which elements are successful and where you could improve with your own machine learning bot.

Don’t get distracted with the idea that your chatbot must have everything your competitors have. Instead, decide which elements would benefit your business and enhance your unique proposition. Sometimes too many features can bury the most useful ones and curb their effectiveness, so be selective.

3. Create sample conversion flowcharts

Visualizing probable and possible conversations is an important step towards developing your chatbot, so map them out with flowcharts. This will help you identify what good interactions will look like, but also the dead ends that customers could find themselves in.

This process is more useful if you bring in other members of your team and representatives from other departments. They can help to see areas you may have overlooked and add creative approaches to stumbling blocks you come across.

4. Developing the correct set of AI skills

The objective of implementing chatbot software in your service strategy is to ensure solutions are customer-focused and delivered efficiently. Automating repetitive tasks or answers to simple problems allows human agents to focus on more complex tasks that require their attention - all of which leads to a better customer experience.

When it comes to developing AI skills, it’s important that your support team identifies new customer intents and include relevant replies when programming the chatbot. They should also focus on improving the conversational abilities of the bot and ensuring it uses the right formats to get its message across.

5. Developing customer journey maps

Customer journey mapping is a vital process in customer experience management. It allows businesses to develop ways to offer better experiences that improve overall satisfaction and loyalty. The goal isn’t simply to boost results through bots, but also to create experiences that delight your customers.

To do this, it’s important to understand different customer intents and define an appropriate scope for the bot so it can have more successful conversations. Once you’ve done this, you should also align the bot flow to the target use case to ensure more effective responses and reduce human fallback options.

Another step involves creating a subset of customer intents. This should be done for the most relevant outcomes from past use cases. Learning from the experiences of your bots based on customer journey maps can help you deliver more satisfying experiences.

6. Create your chatbot’s knowledge base

The information you give to your bot will be critical to its success. Build its knowledge base in a similar way to how you’d train a new member of staff, so it has all the details about your products and services customers may ask about.

Many assets you have already created can be fed into your chatbot to give it a vast store of information to tap into. Don’t overlook the following:

  • Links to product pages
  • FAQs
  • Product collateral
  • Industry information
  • Company presentations
  • Video transcripts

Learn more: 8 Chatbot Mistakes That are Hurting Your Business

7. Getting the balance right between chatbots and live chat

It’s impossible to achieve 100% automation through your customer support channels. However, finding the right balance between AI chatbots and live chat with real agents allows you to maximize your resources and deliver the best service possible for your customers.

Chatbots provide real-time support and their prompt answers can improve customer satisfaction. But it’s also important to ensure users have a way to connect to a human agent when the bot is unable to understand user intent.

Integrating chatbot and live chat software empowers customers to self-serve while ensuring they can be transferred to a live agent when they have a complex query. Offering this hybrid experience ensures your business can intelligently engage with customers at any time.

8. Choose a technology platform

It may come as a surprise that you don’t need to start thinking about the technology to support your chatbot strategy until this stage. That’s because the success of your chatbot really lies in your strategy and fully understanding your customers in line with your business goals.

Once those elements are in place, you can start thinking about the technology platform to use. Select one that integrates easily with your website architecture and popular channels like Facebook and Slack. Also, make sure the platform you choose is capable of AI learning and natural language processing so it’s dynamic enough to truly answer your target audience’s queries.

9. Testing and measuring AI bot performance

One of the most important steps in defining your chatbot strategy is to measure bot performance. These insights will help you refine and improve your customer service efforts.

Use KPIs to measure the success of your chatbot project, understand whether or not it’s satisfying your customers and identify ways you can improve its performance.

Here are some of the key chatbot KPIs to track:

  • Total human handover: This metric refers to the total number of conversions that are transferred to the chatbot by a human agent and reflects how capable it was in engaging and answering their questions.
  • Successful conversations: Tracks how many conversations are successfully handled by the bot and lead to a conversion without human interference.
  • Failed conversations: The number of conversations where the bot is unable to solve customer queries. This helps you to identify areas for improvement. 
  • Customer satisfaction: Using CSAT and NPS surveys, you can calculate satisfaction scores to understand how happy customers are with your chatbot service.

Further reading:

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