Are you as excited about chatbots as we are? Great – then let's talk about how to create one. It's nice to think about the advantages of a bot that can talk to your customers and help answer their questions, but actually taking the first step and making one is a different prospect. So here are key tips on how to build a chatbot lead strategy that works for your B2B (even if you're not sure where to begin) Click to Tweet.
1. Make a List of Chat Requirements
Start here with a clear strategy for your chatbot. Let's be clear – a chatbot can't do everything. It can do a couple things really well, but it can't switch modes or deal with the unexpected, so you need to plan ahead carefully. The Marketing Journal has an excellent piece on how to build up your chatbot strategy so you know exactly what you need, and we suggest you take a look before you jump into the deep end.
Do you want a bot to help people find products? To help answer customer support questions? To give information about a product? To send out marketing messages and engage in discussions? To help employees coordinate in the back end? There are a lot of options out there, and you need to narrow it down. This is also the proper spot to consider budgeting and cost control.
2. Use a Platform-Specific Chatbot
There are several different ways to create your chatbot, depending on the goals that you hopefully created during the first step. One of the easiest methods – for saving money and starting with something simple – is to create a platform-specific chatbot. You see, a number of platforms have already made tools available for creating bots to use with their services, so it's very simple to just jump in.
One of the best examples is Facebook, which has bot-building tools for things like its Messenger platform. There are plugins, codes, templates, greetings, and a variety of other features you can use to build up a reliable bot. This is great for teams that may not have much programming experience but want to get a bot out there.
3. Build Your Own Chatbot
All right, let's assume you don't want a bot for a platform, but rather for your own site or ordering system. Great! It's going to be a lot of work. Don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of tools out there that will allow you to build your own chatbot (here's a nice little list of them), but you still have to make them, usually from the ground up. There's only so much templates can do: Programming experience is nearly required here, and experience with AI behavior is extremely helpful.
We know that sounds like a serious roadblock, but we encourage you to take a look at available tools and the current talent on your team, and see what you can put together. The good news is that if you're willing to constantly test and correct the chatbot lead strategy, even inexperienced creators can eventually make a workable version.
4. Hire Someone to Make a Chatbot
This option is a newbie, but quickly growing. Chatbots are becoming very popular, and vendors are springing up to offer their own bot-creating services. This is great – if you can afford it, and if you can trust the vendor. Keep in mind that vendors will probably need access to most of your business data to create a competent app, so only work with someone you absolutely trust.
5. Create an Update Schedule, and Do It Now
Any time you deal with any sort of intelligent response program, you need to keep improving it. Imagine how many versions of Siri or Cortana there were before the voice assistants were ready to go commercial – and they're still constantly updated. So create an update schedule long before your chatbot is ready to go live, and stick to it. Give your team room to deal with any errors or crashes that crop up...because it's going to happen, and that's all right if you have a plan in place!