As companies grow more comfortable with the idea of using chatbots on their websites, even those who don’t have in-house developers might want to get on board with the chatbot trend.
To do this, someone has to know how to build a chatbot, which can be confusing for non-tech-savvy people. Even companies who do have in-house developers might not have someone skilled at creating a chatbot on their own.
Fortunately, there is more than one way to build a chatbot, each requiring a varying level of technical skills.
Three ways to build a chatbot
- Easy: via a chatbot creation website
- Intermediate: through Facebook/Messenger
- Hard: from scratch
Ways to build a chatbot
Unless the person building your company’s chatbot knows how to code using different coding languages, it will be difficult to attempt creating one – even if they are a developer. To ensure someone on your team can help with the chatbot creation process, providing them with different ways to approach the task will result in a stronger end product.
Let’s review the three different ways to build a chatbot, starting with the easiest and moving towards the most difficult.
1. Easy: build via a chatbot creation website
One of the many benefits of hopping on board the chatbot train in 2019 is the fact that chatbot creation websites are everywhere. What’s more, many of these sites offer low- or no-code options for users, specifically for people with no coding background whatsoever.
|TIP: Learn more about the difference between low-code and no-code development.|
Conversely, some chatbot creation sites allow users to hand off the responsibility of actually creating the bot to someone on their staff.
For example, Instabot gives users the option to get a free, custom-built bot created by one of their developers. On their site, their on-page chatbot prompts the site visitor with buttons with sample queries from which the user can choose.
Image courtesy of Instabot
Options like Start Free Trial and Custom Bot Built for Free guide interested parties to a series of extended questions that help direct them to the appropriate “chatbot architect” (AKA the developer) who will be creating your chatbot for you.
Image courtesy of Instabot
Their site bot will ask for more information, such as contact details, the web address for the site you want your bot to be connected to, and what responsibilities you want your chatbot to have. These queries ensure that the proper chatbot architect is tasked with creating your site’s bot.
As seen above, the Instabot chatbot is able to understand the information I type to it; however, it is clear that the chatbot contains a combination of canned responses and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities.
This means that the bot is programmed to recognize FAQs and key phrases/responses, as well as identify the components of an email address. Instabot understands that a proper email address should contain words before and after the @ sign, plus a .com/.net/.org ending to indicate that it is indeed a viable email address.
2. Intermediate: build through Facebook Messenger
Possibly the most common method, Facebook chatbots seem to be the tool of choice for many companies, big and small. What makes this option ideal are the multiple tools that Facebook provides to users. There’s an entire page dedicated to developers; however, non-developers interested in building a chatbot can use it as well (thanks to the user-friendly site directions).
Creating your chatbot through Facebook and hosting it via Messenger is ideal for many because Facebook provides tools and guided directions on how to actually build your bot. Users who go this route will end up learning some elements of coding in the process, but it’s low-code so that even beginners can create a bot on their own. Plus, countless people worldwide use Facebook, so your chatbot will be visible to millions.
Facebook even provides people who are creating a chatbot with examples of successful bots (including sample code!) to aid in chatbot development.
Image courtesy of Facebook
Another aspect of chatbots hosted on Facebook is how they can be integrated into an external site (i.e. your home web page can have the chatbot’s code embedded into it!). Now, you have the option for users to access your chatbot on Facebook directly or from your homepage, giving them a choice as well as ease of accessibility.
3. Hard: build from scratch
Building a chatbot from scratch is something that is best saved for somebody who is highly tech-savvy and has an idea about, if not strong expertise on, coding and how to develop a program (or chatbot) from the ground up. Still, in order to get started, you’ll need to decide on a chatbot building platform to house your bot.
Because building a chatbot with code is immensely difficult for people with no development background and limited exposure to coding languages, it’s good to research sample chatbot code from expert developers as a jumping-off point for those determined to learn how to build their own bot without help.
Image courtesy of Analytics Vidhya via Medium.com
If you’re one of those people, you might want to choose a common language like Python to get started. Additionally, you can find useful chatbot creation software for your chatbot building needs to help expedite the process.
2 things to remember when building a chatbot in any format
Regardless of your preferred chatbot creation method, there are 2 universal rules to which you should adhere.
1. Make sure your chatbot doesn’t sound robotic
Though your chatbot is a robot, it shouldn’t seem like one. Using natural language processing to give your chatbot a natural conversation flow that makes it human-like and easy to understand is crucial for enhancing customer interactions with your bot.
It’s much easier to ask questions to a bot that can recognize human language patterns and respond in a relatively understandable format than rewriting a query over and over in hopes that the bot will understand. Think of it this way: when you call your cable provider to make a complaint, the first person you interact with is an automated voice assistant.
Question: How many times have you shouted “AGENT!” at the phone while the voice assistant ignored your request?
Frustrating, isn’t it? You want to avoid that same possibility for frustration with your chatbot. A user shouldn’t have to type their question multiple times in order to be directed to the appropriate representative.
2. Remember these four steps: Build. Train. Deploy. Track.
For the non-tech-savvy, there are four steps to remember when creating your chatbot: build, train, deploy, and track.
- Build: The first and most obvious step to creating a chatbot is building it. Once you build your chatbot, whether through an external site, on Facebook, or completely on your own, the development process is the most important element. Once you decide what your bot will be used for, how intelligent you want it to be, and where it will be hosted, you’re ready to train it to have human-facing interactions.
- Train: As mentioned earlier, training your chatbot is a process that is relatively simple, but incredibly repetitive. Depending on how smart you want your bot to be: basic level, responding to FAQs and canned inquiries versus high-level, understanding human language by being fed sample interactions in order to strengthen its natural language capabilities – will determine how much training your bot needs.
If you only want it to answer questions you auto-populate on your site, then it won’t have to learn as much as it would if you want it to respond to user inquiries akin to a human representative. Alternatively, if your end goal is to use the chatbot only as a guide to redirect your users to a human customer service agent, then your chatbot needs much less training than a more intelligent bot would.
- Deploy: After building and training your bot to complete the tasks you want it to do, you need to deploy it. Whether you’re using Facebook as your platform or inserting the source code of your freshly-created bot into your webpage, once deployed, your bot needs to be shown off to your users. Once users know your bot is live, they’ll know to use it as a knowledge source for finding information as well as asking questions about your company, products, and anything else the bot has been trained to share responses about.
- Track: This final step is one far too many people skip over. In order to see how efficient adding a chatbot is for your company, shouldn’t you be tracking the success of your bot? Tracking your chatbot’s success rates is pretty simple, but not often thought of as a closing step in the chatbot creation process.
After your bot has been deployed, and once it has interacted with people, it’s important to ask your customers how their interaction with your chatbot went. Were there serious issues that need to be addressed? Was your chatbot flawless in its interaction to the point that it was nearly impossible to tell it apart from your human customer service representatives? (If so, run!)
Regardless, chatbot tracking is a necessary step to include to find flaws and improve on your bot’s language capabilities and success rates. You can administer a post-interaction survey, guide your users to a human representative to answer questions, or have the bot send an automated questionnaire when the user goes to X-out of their conversation. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Are you ready to hop on board the chatbot train?
Sometimes, it’s best not to follow trends and do your own thing. This is not one of those times. To make sure you’re on board with the forward movement of human-bot interaction, make sure you strongly consider adding an artificially intelligent chatbot to your website today!
If you need more motivation for creating a chatbot, check out 35 must-read chatbot statistics for 2019!