Your approach toward chatbot answers and other output

The chatbot's answers form an essential part of your bot, and the content of these can greatly impact visitors' perceptions of the bot's usefulness. As such, it is important to understand how to craft good answers and be aware of the options you have regarding the bot's presentation.   

In this article, we'll address the following aspects of chatbot answers: 

Preparation

Naturally, you can only begin creating chatbot answers once you've conceptualized which questions (or other end user input) you expect the chatbot to be confronted with. We recommend reading more about chatbot visitor questions and other input.

Tone of voice: How the chatbot speaks to its audience

Before creating your chatbot's answers or content, it helps to spend some time thinking about your chatbot's tone of voice. As you may already know, an essential element of the bot is the specific way in which it communicates with the end users.

Consider: Is the chatbot supposed to be funny? Should it seem self-conscious? Do you want it to have a professional tone? Think about what impression you'd like to give to chatbot users, and design your bot's answers to fit that image.

Some creators like to make the conversation more personal by having the bot mention key information during the chat, such as the name of the end user. With Custom Variables, you can do this and much more.

Many bot builders decide to personify the chatbot by giving it a clearly defined identity. In these cases, the chatbot can be thought of as a mascot for your entire organization and, most importantly, the chatbot users themselves.

You could consider asking your marketing colleagues for advice on this topic.   

How to handle controversial topics  

One thing you have to account for is end user questions about controversial topics. It's crucial to align with your legal department – ask them what the content should consist of if and/or when the chatbot responds in these cases.

If you decide to let the bot reply to those controversial questions, ensure the bot has the right thing to say, aligned with your organization's overall strategy.

Maintaining and updating your bot

Before creating the chatbot answers, you'll want to consider how you'll maintain the chatbot. How often will the bot's answers change, and how will those changes be handled? Consider how much time you can realistically devote to chatbot maintenance after it is deployed to a live environment.

We'll discuss three main approaches below, but you can use a combination of these as well.

Create content-rich bot responses

One option you have is to give the answers and content to the bot users directly in the form of bot messages. This requires more maintenance effort in the long run, but it will make the bot-user interactions feel more like a real conversation.

Of course, the amount of care required for your bot depends on how often the information and content in your organization changes. As such, if you'd like to provide an answer that won't change anytime soon, typing the content directly into a bot message is the most commonly preferred option.

Point to content stored on your organization's website

If you cannot allocate multiple hours to update your bot periodically, consider pointing chatbot users to content stored on your website or knowledge base at points where you might otherwise craft messages that contain the same information.
In this case, the chatbot would display a link to the external content source. Assuming the linked pages are kept up-to-date, this option requires barely any maintenance within the bot itself.

Do keep in mind that your bot users still require a little context or introduction before being presented with a link. Otherwise, it will make the bot look impersonal, and the conversation will feel much more robotic. 
One way to make these links seem more exciting is by using Cards. With this option, you can connect the user to a lot of information in a way that is engaging and visually appealing, including a title, description, image, and, of course, the link. 

Display dynamic links to knowledge sources

There is also the possibility of using integrations to search your knowledge base and display answers dynamically or automate your bot's responses accordingly. This option will ensure that your content is never outdated - as long as your knowledge base is up to date, of course!

Please note that this solution requires a basic understanding of Webhooks

Creating the answers

Now that you know the different options for presenting chatbot answers, you can finally create them. Chatbot answers are broadly categorized by the following:  length, personalization, and level of detail.

Length 

  • One single answer with specific information, primarily independent of the end user’s input
  • An answer flow consisting of follow-up questions to collect more information from the end user 

Personalization 

  • Display previously collected end user information by using Custom Variables.
  • Use an integration (Webhook) to, for example, your customer relationship management system to target the bot answers toward the end user’s needs.

Level of detail 

  • Specific chatbot answers create more value for the customer. However, maintaining the chatbot’s responses (keeping the content up-to-date) will likely take you more time.
  • Broader chatbot answers are easier to maintain, but the end users might leave a chatbot conversation unsatisfied if the chatbot answer only scratched the surface.

We suggest compiling all answers outside the platform for a convenient overview and to allow for collaboration with other internal stakeholders. Storing the content separate from the Certainly Platform ensures accurate testing before putting the chatbot into a production environment.

Practical advice

  • Define the chatbot answers in conjunction with the list of expected user questions/input. You can draw inspiration for chatbot answers from your website, knowledge base, historic support answers to previous customer requests, and so on. Consider reaching out to internal subject matter experts to help with this.

  • Once you are ready to begin, we recommend reading more about adding and editing bot responses.

  • It's always a good idea to play around with the platform, test different methods, and figure out what works best for each individual bot answer.
  • Always try to approach it from the end user's perspective and consider what you would regard to be an excellent chatbot answer.
  • Don't forget to have fun while working within the bot-building canvas!

To summarize, think about how you want your bot's tone of voice to sound and how you want every answer presented. If there are any questions you're unsure of, consult your legal and/or marketing departments. Finally, consider how much time you'll have for maintenance once the bot is live and plan accordingly.