Today, the tough competition makes it mandatory for businesses, irrespective of their industry, to adopt innovative technology. For businesses, it has become crucial to solving the problems and queries of their customers in real-time to ensure brand establishment and consumer loyalty. In recent years, business owners have focused more on their customer service departments than anything else. The goal is to remove the constraints of human limitations and provide consumers with seamless customer service. This is where ‘chatbots’ come into the picture.
Developing a chatbot for an enterprise has become a necessity. You cannot control the volatile nature of your customers. With that said, in this post, we are going to explain everything you need to know about chatbots, including how they work, what are their features, and how to build a chatbot from scratch.
What are Chatbots?
A chatbot is a software or a computer program designed to have human-like conversations with human beings over the internet. In short, chatbots can have real conversations with users. You can use chatbots on your website or app to greet users, respond to their queries, ask them particular questions, and carry out a fluent conversation without human intervention. Social messaging tools like Slack, Viber, Kik, Line, WeChat, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger are quality examples of how chatbots are used.
There are primarily two types of chatbots – one that is AI-enabled and the other, which is rule-based or based on multiple-choice scripts. An AI-based chatbot is preferred the most these days.
Nevertheless, they are deployed to make the user experience more personalized.
Why Does Your Business Need a Chatbot?
You may be thinking of how developing a chatbot from scratch helps my business. The easiest answer to that is a chatbot works 24/7/365. But, here are a few more.
#1 Scale up operations
The biggest benefit of chatbots is that they do not suffer from the limitations of a human. While a human agent can handle 2-3 conversations at a time, chatbots are designed to operate without an upper limit. Thus, chatbots play a crucial role in enhancing the productivity of your customer support team. As a result, your business can scale up operations and enter new markets.
#2 You are selling to the millennials
Millennials like to research, compare, and inquire about products before they make a purchase. If your target audience is mostly millennials, then you will have to provide them with live chat support over phone calls as they prefer live chat. Chatbots can take some of the burdens of your human agents.
The majority of the enterprises these days have an online presence in the form of a website. But with the advent of the internet, the availability and unavailability, and the boundaries of day and night have changed. As a result, user expectations have also changed. Chatbots can engage with your users at any time of the day and help them resolve their issues.
#4 Immediate availability and mobile-ready
With the growing number of mobile users, brands have realized the importance of having a mobile app or mobile-optimized websites. Mobile is the perfect platform to initiate chat. With chatbots, this can become even more efficient.
#5 Minimal costs and maximum returns
The best thing about chatbots is that developing a chatbot from scratch is incredibly cheap. Platforms like Kik and Facebook Messenger provide the prerequisite frameworks and APIs for creating a bot.
How Does a Chatbot Work?
Chatbots are programmed to carry out online conversations with humans through text, text-to-speech, videos, or graphics. With the advancement in artificial intelligence technology, it has enabled enterprises and CTOs to develop more sophisticated systems that can convert text messages and the human voice into useful data.
Then this data is programmed in three different ways –
The first is pattern-matching, where the bots are programmed to respond based on the keywords (text) they see. This is based on Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML). In this, the bots only know answers to queries that exist in their database.
The second is algorithms, where a unique pattern is required in a database for the chatbot to provide the right response. It is based on NLP (Natural Language Processing) that combines various trends to create a hierarchical structure.
The last is the use of artificial neural networks where the chatbots can answer queries based on the context in data and weighted connections.
How to Build a Chatbot from Scratch?
To make a chatbot from scratch, there are certain factors to consider.
First things first, you need to define your goals – that is, the purpose of a chatbot for your business. Determine how a chatbot can ease your business operations in the customer service department. Define the key performance indicators at every stage of development.
Next, determine the target audience – who will be interacting with your chatbot. If they are millennials, you will have to work more on streamlining your goals. The better you know your customer, the better you will be the success rate of your chatbot.
The most important factor to consider is on what platforms you will be implementing your chatbot. This includes the device as well. If you prefer both text and speech, then you will have to use AI to ensure successful bot development.
Most importantly, give your bot a human personality, just like Alexa and Siri. Customers will feel more comfortable talking to a bot that has a name. ‘
You will have to create a relevant conversation flow by specifying the objectives and use cases to the development team. From the questions the chatbot asks a user visiting the website to how it responds to certain questions, defining functionalities will help.
The next is the development phase, where the documented data is translated into code. The programmer integrates business logic across the company’s operating devices and virtual platforms. Then scripting is performed where the conversations and messages of the users are outlined.
Once the chatbot goes live, you will have to properly analyze its performance. This is also the phase where you have to train and update your bot.
Developing a chatbot from scratch requires a better understanding of programming languages like Python, Ruby, and NodeJS. Apart from these, you need to have a better understanding of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Machine Learning: It is the development of techniques that allows computer systems to learn automatically.
NLP: Natural Language Processing is a pseudoscientific approach that is capable of understanding human emotions via text.
Most Popular Chatbot Development Platforms
There are countless bot frameworks and chatbot platforms out there. The most popular ones include:
Microsoft Bot Framework
IBM Watson Assistant
SAP Conversational AI
How Much Does it Cost to Make a Chabot?
Based on the technology used and how sophisticated your chatbot is, the development cost of a chabot can anywhere between $3,000 to $50,000. If you opt for Facebook Messenger bot, it can cost you around $3,000 to $5,000.
You can create a chatbot for your business with ease with the right development team. Plus, it has become crucial for every business to stay on top of the trend in order to remain competitive. We hope that you find this guide informative and educational. If you have any questions regarding the topics covered, do ask.