6 Tips on how to prepare for the first phase of chatbot deployment

Are you excited by the idea of having a virtual assistant on your website or social media profile, but you are unsure of how to start your journey? We feel you! Creating a chatbot that acts as the face of your company is a challenge, requiring thorough analysis and preparation. And to top it all off, your first attempt, if unpleasant, may effectively discourage you from investing in AI-powered technologies.

We have prepared a short guide that proved valuable throughout our experience to ensure that you take all necessary steps into account.

1. Analyse your existing touchpoints

It is crucial to build upon the experience you already gained through your communication channels. Scrutinise your social media conversations, pay attention to the types of questions customers ask and how they formulate their queries. Study the most common issues that reach your call centre or live chat. Those FAQs can compose the perfect knowledge base for the initial phase of your deployment.

Side note — make sure to involve your customer care team in the design process. They know your audience best.

2. Find a use case

Studying your conversations is a must but reviewing your conversion metrics cannot be put aside. Keep track of bottlenecks on your channels — is there a specific point where you notice customer turnover? Maybe there’s a feature that your website lacks, which could be covered via a chatbot? Make sure that your assistant responds to an authentic need. It aims to automate, so you should initially focus on what’s tedious and repetitive.

3. Build the right team / Find your partner

Neither the first nor any subsequent phase of chatbot deployment happens overnight. It requires an effort from subject-matter experts: developers, UX & UI designers, knowledge base admins, and project managers. If you already have AI or ML-related capabilities within your organisation, you may collect each of the mentioned superheroes and begin your journey. On the other side, if you are not comfortable with chatbot technologies, you might want to look out for an external partner. We’ve got you covered if you are interested in the latter.

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4. Start small

Okay, so the needs are analysed, the Q&A base is ready, and the dream team is onboarded to kick-off the project — you are off for a triumph. Your motto should be “go big or go home”, right? Not in this case. Enthusiasm is needed, though you might get tempted to gild the lily. First deployments are demanding in the case of any piece of software. Your team needs to learn how to work with the product, your customers — how to use it. Don’t overwhelm your development team or end-users with complex journeys. An iterative approach holds good here — focus on resolving customers’ core problems first. You may always extend your chatbot once it’s up and running.

5. Test

We advise examining any working feature rigorously. Your team members shouldn’t be the sole testers. Despite your good faith, the results will most likely be biased since you know the ins and outs of the project. You may want to share the chatbot with different departments in your organisation and, if possible, a few friendly customers. Make sure to collect their opinions, ask them for screenshots and recordings of weak spots, and, most importantly, explore conversation logs. This way, you can analyse the flow of the conversation and discover subtleties hidden in the context. Finally, double-check the look and feel on different devices and browsers before launching the first (and any) release of your conversational assistant.

6. Rely on feedback

Just as importantly – remember not to get overly attached to your ideas. If the tests clearly show that some questions need to be rephrased or removed — follow the guidelines. Even the most innovative feature will not serve its purpose if not accepted by your audience. You should dedicate proper resources to the hyper care period — a week or two right after your launch. During this time, it is essential to study metrics and conversations and fix the major bugs on the go. The minor ones should be collected in the backlog and prioritised in the development of the next release.

Did we miss anything important? Let us know in the comments! If we managed to spur your interest, visit our website or contact us directly. We will guide you through your first deployment, ensuring that your experience is pleasant while meeting performance objectives.

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6 Tips on how to prepare for the first phase of chatbot deployment was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.