You look like a tech savvy bunch! I imagine you have a website or are at least involved in looking after one. You like to create content to attract visitors, sell stuff online and look at your data regularly because, y'know, it's important. You may even have an app that has achieved the holy grail of being useful to your customers as a way to pass time or because it saves them money. Well done. You have completed the first three levels of the Internet - time to level up?
Since the dawn of marketing, we've all been in the business of creating a dialogue with our audience. Chatbots offer one of the best opportunities of truly achieving that aim.
There is a choice though; do you create a robot servant designed solely to help, or do you create a personality that your customers will want to have a dialogue with. No surprises, I believe in the later - so here is my top five to help you achieve that.
Remember, chatbots are computer programs that you interact with by "chatting." Think about the privacy aspects of that for a moment - You are about to start recording, collecting, analysing people's actual words, maybe even their emotions. Your audience will respond differently to how they interact with a bot (especially a good one) to how they fill out a regular data capture form - How will you store all this information and what will you do with the insights you gain from it?
Create an expert, even if it's just an expert in one thing. You are looking to build trust, not seed doubt. I encountered a bot recently whose first line was "I'm a beta virtual assistant. I'm still in training but I'll do my best to answer your home loan questions." I'm about to make one of the biggest financial decisions of my life, and you give me a trainee robot intern! Can I speak to an expert, please?
Think about message length and the flow of the conversation. 'Chat' by its very nature takes the form of quick, informal bursts of conversation. Make the first few messages nice and short as a way to hook your audience. This approach then gives you permission to deliver a longer message when it counts. Message length is already being shown to be a significant player in user engagement with bots.
Please please don't give it a 'bot' name - Chattybot2000, Robochat The Botinator! If science fiction taught us anything, it's that we can't trust things with robot names (HAL, SKYNET anyone). You have a brand, use it to create a name that will encourage your customers to behave like a human.
Finally! It's not just about displacing humans in the 21st-century workplace - Don't be the robber baron of the 21st century. Upscale and retrain employees to higher-value activities; make better people, as well as better chatbots. Your customers will thank you and help your business grow.