Demystifying conversational AI: Best practices for building efficient chatbots

Rohil Kamath

May 16, 20238 min read

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As technology rapidly progresses, businesses must keep pace with evolving trends if they wish to remain relevant. Conversational AI has taken the world by storm; chatbots powered by this trend have revolutionized customer experience. Conversational AI chatbots have quickly become the talk of the town! 

Gone are the days when customers had to endure long queues or lengthy hold times in order to have their queries addressed. Now with chatbots, customers can engage in human-like conversations anytime and anywhere - be it a basic FAQ or more complex support issues, chatbots can handle them all easily while offering quick and efficient solutions. 

Although conversational AI chatbots can be transformative for businesses, constructing one that produces results is no simple task. Successful development requires careful planning, design and execution, and continuous optimization to meet ever-evolving customer needs. For your chatbot to resonate with its target audience and truly resonate with its intended reach based on factors like industry vertical, geography or intended reach - best practices must be strictly observed for maximum impact.  

Even after careful planning and scoping of chatbot implementation, brands can sometimes overlook small yet crucial details that have an enormous effect on user experience. While these details may seem inconsequential, they can make all the difference in how users perceive it and its interaction efficiency. 

Let's look at some best practices that can assist businesses in creating an intelligent chatbot capable of producing tangible results. 

Demystifying conversational AI: Best practices for building efficient chatbots 1
Table of Contents

Engage users from the outset: Employ conversation starters as opposed to staring blankly at an empty page 

Imagine entering a store where the salesperson greets you with a warm smile and personalized greeting - wouldn't that make you feel welcome and valued? In chatbots, starting with an engaging conversation starter instead of an empty screen can significantly impact how users perceive and interact with it. 

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Formulating a personalized and engaging conversation starter can set the stage for increased engagement and satisfaction in any conversation. Imagine receiving a welcome message that includes your name and regional or language preferences — this would make you feel heard and understood, leading you to continue talking further down your dialogue thread. 

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Adapt chatbots to different social and messaging channels

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Likewise when setting up chatbots across various social and messaging channels, it's essential that they match up to each channel's individual requirements and limitations to produce results-oriented chatbots that truly bring value. 

However, when using messaging channels like WhatsApp or SMS, starting with a personalized greeting message is more effective before offering users a menu of options that engage in conversation. This menu could then trigger workflows based on specific issues or intent from users, enabling the chatbot to provide tailored and tailored responses based on each individual user message or initial inquiry received by your chatbot. Alternatively, direct trigger workflows upon user initial messages for more relevant results. 

Designing workflows that are intuitive, user-friendly and efficient is essential in crafting a chatbot that delivers results. By placing users at the center of design efforts and crafting conversations around meeting users' needs, businesses can build chatbots that users will love interacting with. 

Create an effortless navigation experience: Gather all chatbot capabilities into a main menu for seamless navigation 

To ensure your chatbot delivers outstanding results, it is key to offer users a simple and effortless journey. One way of doing so is organizing its capabilities into 2-3 categories and crafting an exhaustive main menu - this approach optimizes customer experience while decreasing confusion and eliminating fallback scenarios. 

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With an easy-to-use menu, users can effortlessly navigate through your chatbot without requiring to type endlessly. Not only does this save them time and energy but it also enhances user engagement with the bot resulting in greater user satisfaction and loyalty towards it. 

Optimize chatbot efficiency with microbot workflows 

When developing chatbots, it's essential to take an incremental approach. Enter microbots. These smaller bots specialize in performing specific tasks - like answering commonly asked questions or handling customer orders - efficiently while providing users with relevant information quickly and accurately. Introducing this architecture enables businesses to handle each task quickly and accurately for optimal chatbot efficiency. 

Microbots bring many advantages to chatbot development, including scalability and efficiency improvements. Imagine serving an unlimited number of users while responding quickly and accurately - this is now possible with microbots!  

Debugging errors in chatbot flow becomes easier thanks to microbots that allow errors to be quickly identified and addressed without impacting the entire chatbot.  

Be mindful not to underestimate the power of these small bots — don't underestimate their impact on improving chatbot performance and providing exceptional user experiences! 

Incorporate bot reply timeouts, fallbacks and agent routing

When setting up a chatbot, it is critical to anticipate any roadblocks that could detract from the user experience. These could include scenarios in which no predefined responses exist for certain questions or technical glitches that hinder its performance. 

So it's essential that a chatbot be configured with reply timeouts, fallbacks and agent routing features to maximize user satisfaction and ensure an intuitive experience for the end-user. By including these features in its architecture, these features demonstrate foresight and planning to ensure seamless service provision in unexpected circumstances.  

  • To ensure chatbots manage timeouts effectively, it is recommended they send a follow-up message after two minutes of inactivity by sending out a reminder and confirmation message with alternative ways of reaching out to the brand if there's no response from users - for instance: "We apologize we couldn't assist today - please reach out to our support team via email or phone for additional help" 

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  • A well-designed chatbot should have an automatic fallback message for when it is unable to comprehend a user query. This message should sound as human-like as possible and direct them toward a solution; for example, redirecting users to support agents or asking for additional clarification might suffice; an example might include, "I'm sorry, but I'm having difficulty understanding your request; could you rephrase or provide additional context so I can better assist you? For additional assistance, contact our customer service team via email or phone." 

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To provide customers with the best experience possible, agent routing must be implemented carefully and with several backup plans in mind. When configuring agent routing, consider these factors: 

  • In business hours, notify customers of their queue position when assigning an agent and provide options such as waiting, returning to the main menu or closing their case if their wait time is excessive. For example, when customers ask questions that cannot be answered by your chatbot after several fallback attempts, your chatbot could respond by saying, "I apologize, but I'm having difficulty understanding your request; please hold for a moment while I connect you to an agent who can help. Your current queue position is three; otherwise, you can return to the main menu or close the case." 

  • Outside business hours, direct customers to contact your company through email or phone and close their case or offer the option for a callback. 

Stop on a high note: The importance of chatbot outros 

A well-crafted outro can make all the difference in customer experience; creating positive associations and brand advocates are two essential business objectives today. 

Chatbot conversations shouldn't just focus on providing an answer — they should create positive associations as well. Incorporating clear and direct outro messages will allow businesses to strengthen customer relations while strengthening brand recognition among potential new clients.  

An effective outro can give customers multiple choices to continue their interaction, seek additional assistance or end it gracefully. By providing options like "Go to Main Menu," "Query Not Resolved," and "All Good, Thank you," customers feel empowered to choose the next steps in their journey. 

An outro message can be an important safeguard, protecting customers from becoming stuck in an endless cycle of dialogue. This is particularly vital when the chatbot is integrated with other systems or websites; its presence could prevent potential confusion or frustration for all involved parties. 

Using feedback to strengthen your chatbot

A wise person once said that feedback was the fuel behind success — this statement rings especially true when building Conversational AI chatbots. Conducting customer satisfaction surveys at the conclusion of conversations measures customer satisfaction and unlocks your chatbot's full potential.  

Businesses can utilize feedback to ensure their chatbot meets customer needs, by identifying what works and doesn't work with their bot and making informed decisions to optimize its performance. This ensures it continually evolves to adapt to its users. 

But surveys can do more than that: they can also help businesses engage with their customers, creating loyalty and improving brand perception. When customers feel heard and valued by a brand, it strengthens bonds with its products or services and an overall better experience for all involved. 

Different forms of surveys, such as link-based, inline and conversational, can help businesses gather customer feedback. Link-based surveys are the most commonly used to do this, sent after conversations are concluded, while inline and conversational surveys collect feedback throughout. 

Track chatbot performance with effective reporting

Establishing metrics to accurately report chatbot performance allows businesses to see whether or not they're winning or losing at their game and develop plans for improvement. Effective reporting allows companies to pinpoint areas for enhancement as well as fine-tune the chatbot's conversational capabilities. 

Plan for reporting from the outset. Doing so will allow you to gather valuable data on fallback nodes, customer drop-offs, DSAT scores and button clicks that can provide vital insight into user engagement. With this knowledge, make informed decisions to enhance customer experiences while keeping customers engaged. 

Final thoughts

Following best practices is certainly beneficial when creating an exceptional user experience, but the small details matter too if brands want their chatbot to provide an exceptional user journey. From interaction design and response times to designing conversation flows and response times — every detail matters when creating an amazing chatbot user journey. So unleash your creative side, craft something exceptional and take user experiences to new heights! 

Improve self-serve rates by 150% with Sprinklr’s Conversational AI Bots

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