• 9 User Experience Design Secrets You Cannot Afford To Miss While Designing Chatbots

    Always Ask Users For Feedback

    With a promise to take the overall user experience as well as the customer experience to the next level, chatbots are fast making a mark in the world of technology. Leading corporations are readily investing their money on artificial intelligence to build user experiences, which a run-of-the-mill mobile app may not be able to deliver.

    Bots come with a potential to enhance the customer loyalty for a business. This human-machine interface is so realistic that users honestly feel like they are having a one-on-one conversation with a real live human being. What lies at the core is the aim to create an impeccable user experience.

    But, the user expectations can be high, especially when a user has already had a good experience with a chatbot. Hence, you need to ensure that your chatbot has a human-like personality, including a life history as well as a visual identity.

    Developers, however, are likely to make some common mistakes when building their chatbot, which can undermine the user experience. The last thing you want is a user who is frustrated by the experience because the bot doesn’t understand what they are asking or who is creeped out because the bot says strange things.

    Meaningful dialogue is what makes or breaks the user experience when it comes to chatbots. And for delivering the ultimate experience, you need to ensure that you include all the UX essentials in your chatbot.

    The following are some must-have’s which you simply cannot skip in a chatbot user experience design:

    1. Keep the Messages Precise

    While your bot may have a lot to say, no one wants to read a lengthy message, especially from a bot. Split messages are a much friendlier way to approach the amount of information you are giving the user.

    The use of photos may also help get that word count down, while still giving the user pertinent and useful information. A general rule of thumb is to not use more than 80 characters at once before a pause. Pauses should be short, with a general cadence similar to speech.

    2. Give a Visual Identity and Personality to Your Bot

    Users truly don’t want to feel like they are speaking to a robot, but instead, a real and animate person. They want to hear a defined tone of voice, one that gets their brains revving and ready to have a long and thoughtful conversation.

    Also, many users tend to play around with the bot by asking questions like “when were you born?” So, it is crucial for you to ensure your bot has a personality and demographics.

    You don’t want a bot that is going to offend or annoy your user. Developers will have to look at how the chatbot should react in different situations, from the mundane to the frantic. Also, the best chatbots will have a unique personality specifically for each customer, giving new meaning to personalized service.

    Basically, the user can deal with the “same person” each time they need assistance, which gives the user the feeling of a nurtured relationship.

    A backstory is an important part of a bot’s visual identity. Some customers may ask useless chatter questions that could confuse your bot. Having a backstory ready for cases like this not only builds the user’s trust but also keeps the conversation going.

    3. Ensure Your Chatbot doesn’t Ask Obvious Questions

    Many of the earlier bots were built on the basis using keywords to understand a user, but when the user writes a lengthy message or has multiple questions, this can confuse the chatbot.

    As humans, we don’t always wait for an answer before asking a second or even a third question, but many chatbots aren’t able to handle successive questions. When developing a chatbot, the UX design needs to take into account that there could be multiple inputs.

    The chatbot should be able to map and correlate multiple questions in one line of type. Rather than asking an obvious question, they can hone in on what needs to be done and ask a question that will help to solve the problem.

    The same thing goes for complex questions, where a series of informational tidbits is given in one sentence. If the chatbot can map out different scenarios and have different sets of outcomes, they can further ask questions to get the user’s query down to a single and simpler one. By asking the user what they’ve already tried, the chatbot can narrow down the potential answers and find the right one quite a bit more quickly.

    Bots that are built with a limited vocabulary will not be able to answer some simple questions, so it is in the developer’s best interest to build a chatbot that will organically build its vocabulary as it communicates with the users.

    It will only be then that it can ask more useful questions and be able to understand the user more clearly. The ability to self-learn will not only benefit the user but also you as a developer, as you won’t have to continually update the chatbot with relevant information.

    4. Integrate the Bot With All Existing Systems

    While chatbots will take on the work of many people, a true human-supervised user experience is important. If a customer is escalating, you don’t want to leave your poor chatbot to fend for its life.

    All chatbots should have an established escalation channel where calls or messages can be routed to actual humans who are more capable of reading emotions and giving a user what they actually need.

    Leave the basics to the bot and the more complicated matters to the humans. Your chatbot should be able to handle common scenarios and realize when something isn’t in its interface, where it can then connect with the existing human system.

    Chatbots should be able to access all relevant customer and company information so that they don’t waste the time of the user. Your chatbot should know how to optimize that information and utilize it in such a way that they can easily answer the questions of the user, whether they are about the customer or the company.

    Rather than only seeing your chatbot as a relayer of information, it could also be a collector of information. Some users will contact your company to give information or feedback about changes they’d like to see with your brand, your product or your media. Designing a chatbot that can retain and use this information to your benefit is not only good for the user experience, but also for your brand.

    Your chatbot should be ready for scenarios that are outside of its intended purpose, so it can still fluidly communicate with the user. It should be integrated with your business’s customer relationship management, ticketing & fulfillment processes, and systems so they can access all of your customer information at any time.

    5. Ensure User Engagement in the Conversation

    Right from the start, you’ll want your users to want to be involved in the conversation. Many chatbots give useless greetings that don’t give the user a reason to continue.

    A simple hello is not enough to engage the user to ask questions or give feedback. Rather, your chatbot could ask them specific questions for which they may just need the answers to and be very clear about what the next step will be for the user.

    Some of the best ways that you can convince a user to start or continue a conversation with your chatbot:

    • Giving helpful recommendations that they can use
    • Making a task easier for them
    • Let them know they can receive personalized updates (i.e., order confirmation and shipment notifications)

    Engagement and marketing opportunities are one of those scenarios where you want your bot to be prepared to function well. When your chatbot is connected to other systems of your business, they can use the opportunity they have while chatting with a user to give them relevant information they may not even have asked for (i.e., delivery status or recommendations for products). This gives your users a reason to continue the conversation even after their initial needs have been met, which is a huge win for your brand.

    It is vital for rule-based bots to keep throwing hints for further questions to the user. A bot cannot directly tell the user to ask a specific question. But, it can indirectly throw upon ideas.

    6. Always Ask Users for Feedback

    Always Ask Users For Feedback

    One of the easiest ways you can find out if your chatbot is relating to your user is to ask them. Open-ended questions are the best and will give you as a developer the valuable information you need to improve your chatbot.

    If a user had an awful experience, you could also enlist a human to respond to that experience and improve it for the user, while also trying to improve your bot experience.

    7. Leverage the Data Captured in Bot Conversation

    User data is a powerful tool that all brands should be leveraging for creating a great UX. Not only do you want information about how your chatbot is doing and how the digital customer experience was, but you also want customer information, which can easily be obtained by your chatbot.

    You can use this information during your user communication to make the interaction better and you can also use afterward to propel your bot forward as a personal connection to the user. For example, your user’s name and location are prime information that your chatbot can utilize to tailor their interactions with the customer.

    From there, you can also use this information to compile demographics on the customer base that is using your chatbots. Additionally, user data can make the interactions more personal with the chatbot greeting the user by name and even take on a different persona based on their location, sex, and other information provided.

    During each conversation, you will be able to capture substantial data. This is your foundation for bot analytics.

    8. Select the Right Channel for Your Chatbot

    There are a number of choices when it comes to deciding what channel you should use for your chatbot. There are advantages and disadvantages to each and the choice can be tough. These include:

    • Messenger – large reach, a variety of interactions available, easy access, tools for complex conversations
    • Telegram – great user experience, simple communication, access through buttons instead of typing
    • Slack – many uses, able to monitor the channel’s activity, interactive messages

    Before you begin the user experience development of your chatbot, it is best to decide what purpose you need it for and go from there. The features you need may also determine which channel you choose, so go through that list and compare it to what each channel has to offer your chatbot.

    Don’t forget about considering your target audience and how they like to communicate, as there’s no point in choosing a channel that your customer base will never use.

    9. Test the Chatbot Thoroughly before Unleashing to the Public

    While you may love your design, it is super important to test it on a small audience to gauge its effectiveness. It is here that you will find out any mistakes it makes and can then make it better.

    Live chatbot testing with your customers for UX has its own importance, it is better to crease out as many bugs as you can prior to letting the general public interact with your chatbot. You don’t want a customer getting offended, bored, or frustrated by your bot and then lose them as a customer or potential customer. You want to deal with the problems before they happen in order to have the biggest success possible.

    Testing comes in all forms including having an automated solution or having human QA. Both are relevant and both are important. When testing, you should look for the following:

    • Variability in conversation
    • They say things in the right way
    • If the bot initiates conversations
    • If the bot gives a valid response

    One of your biggest concerns when building a chatbot is ensuring you are giving your customers a great experience. If you are able to avoid making these very common UX mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to designing a very successful chatbot.

    Ending Notes

    A chatbot should always be versatile and can play the role of many different people. But, appearing overly-human can have its drawbacks and deter a user. For example, the over-use of emojis or colloquial expressions can signal to the user that they aren’t talking to a real person.

    The chatbot should be designed so that it meets the needs of the target audience, in terms of vocabulary, tone and general personality, as well as with its icon or avatar.

    It is pertinent to note that you cannot have many expectations from the chatbot in one go. You need to keep adding to its features based on the feedback you gather from the users time to time.

    Also, it is crucial to add an impressive introduction to any conversation your begins. Your bot cannot just say “hi” and keep asking for instructions. You have to design the user experience in such a way as sets the context for the conversation with the user, without getting the message too lengthy.

    Anchal Seth

    About the Author

    Anchal Seth is a user experience designer. She has been actively involved in various projects related to enhancing the UX of applications developed at Net Solutions. Besides work, she loves reading novels and often finds interest in writing journals.

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