Why on earth is my chatbot not working?!

You were so proud a few months ago – you were launching your very first chatbot with great enthusiasm, backed by promotional strategies aplenty. But since then, the excitement and adrenaline have given way to disappointment and bewilderment – your users are turning away. Worse still, some are even hostile towards it! So, what happened? How did you get to this point? What could have gone so horribly wrong? You can be sure of one thing; your conversational robot does not deserve such inhumane treatment.

First off, don’t panic. You are neither the first, nor the last, to whom this has happened. Lots of chatbots have fallen into disuse, removed just as quickly as they were created, feeding into a list of long-lost chatbots that gets bigger by the day. Cast your mind back to Anna from Ikea, Emma from NotrePharma, Hugo from Mycoachfoot, Eva from Free, Jiminy from Gites de France or even Maxime from Propriétés Privées, to mention but a few… None of them survived, all for different reasons. In this article, we will try and explain the ins and outs of their sudden disappearance.

You want a chatbot “because it’s trendy”

It’s true, chatbots are all the rage. Just like a pair of sneakers, you want your very own chatbot, to show the world your innovative style, that you’re an “early adopter” or even a “techno lover”.  Or maybe you simply want to be like your competitor who has a really great (and popular!) chatbot. But beyond all the hype, you don’t really know what you want your chatbot to be used for, or what you can make it do. A chatbot should serve a specific purpose – to help visitors navigate your website and advise them on their product selection, generate certificates for your associates, or even incite customer loyalty with good quality content. This purpose is your compass – it guides you in your strategic decisions during the project, but also in your design choice and your bot’s personality. And, above all else, it helps you to define the perimeter within which your chatbot will operate.

You did not correctly define the perimeter within which your chatbot operates

A chatbot cannot (as of yet) answer every single question we ask it. It is therefore important to define the scope of questions you expect it to address. These question and answer duos, known as “intents”, are listed ahead of the project, and stem from the objective assigned to the bot at the very beginning, hence the importance of carefully defining its perimeter. Your current knowledge bases, such as your FAQs, can serve as a starting point for this list. If you have not yet capitalised on your knowledge, you can get started by setting up a live chat – operators who reply to user questions – in order to identify the most frequently asked questions and then automate them via the chatbot.

Whatever your strategy for building up your list of intents, we recommend testing it first with a pilot phase. Place your chatbot in the hands of a small group of users who are already familiar and onboard with your project, then explain that they are helping you to make improvements. The more questions they ask, the more the chatbot will learn, and the less risks you will take when opening it up to all your users. A 3 month trial period is sufficient to cover 95% of the questions that your bot will be asked later.

You forgot to explain your chatbot’s role

This is often the main pitfall, the fatal error that is pretty much guaranteed to lead your chatbot awry. As mentioned above, a chatbot should serve a specific purpose. Your users cannot guess what that is if you don’t explain it! You subsequently have a 50% chance that a user’s first 3 questions will be off-topic. And yet that is precisely the moment when a user adopts a chatbot, or not, as a new digital tool. 3 wrong answers and you can say goodbye to your user, he or she won’t be coming back.

“Hi, I’m Tom, your new chatbot. I’m here to answer your questions about tax deducted at source.” “Hi, I’m Theo, an apprentice robot, and I might be able to help you. Do you have a question about transferring your phone number? Then ask me: “how do I transfer my number?”, or “what’s a PAC code?”. “Hi! I’m Leo, your virtual advisor! I’m here to help you with your subscription. ? If I’m unsure about anything, I’ll pass you over to an adviser if there’s one available or explain how to get in touch.” These introductory phrases are reassuring for your users and guide them as they interact with the bot for the first time. They allow you to avoid misunderstandings and people getting frustrated, stressed and eventually giving up. This is especially important given that a failed conversation can generate negative feedback on social media, or even negative buzz. Don’t let a poorly configured bot damage your brand image!

After the launch, you thought everything was (finally) over

You’ve identified your bot’s objective, the perimeter within which it operates, your introductory sentences are configured, the pilot phase with your trial users is over… Phew! You can finally get some rest. Think again! The adventure has only just begun… ?

Your bot is now exposed to outside aggressions and provocations from your end users, who will make sure to put it through the mill. It is therefore necessary to monitor interactions in order to analyse the unsuccessful conversations, identify what’s falling through the net, and take a close look at the user satisfaction ratings. Reasons for dissatisfaction include missing, poorly written or lengthy answers, all of which can irritate. Reasons for satisfaction include direct, to the point answers and a bot close to its users. The constant improvement of your chatbot is essential for post-launch survival and to ensure that users regularly come back.

We hope to have shed some light on the pitfalls that could undermine your chatbot launch and scare your users off. At dydu, we support our clients every step of the way to help them get their chatbot up and running, and we can guarantee a successful launch. The proof – 7 years later, our first chatbots are still very much present and answering thousands of questions every day, much to the end user’s delight. If you would like to know more or book a demo, don’t hesitate to contact us!