Chatbots have become increasingly popular for businesses and consumers throughout the last few years. Artificial Intelligence’s rapid growth, improvement, and popularity has led to the rise and widespread adoption of the AI chatbot.
These Artificial Intelligence-powered chatbots can handle customer inquiries, provide information, engage in casual conversations, and generate content. These conversational bots have moved past predefined answers and can converse with humans.
Organizations are interested in creating their own chatbot because they can provide value in efficiency, customer service, and so much more. If you want to know what goes into building a conversational bot, continue reading this post to view a step-by-step guide on custom chatbot development.
Building an AI Chatbot
If you want to create a chatbot, there are several essential steps that your organization should follow to ensure success.
Whether your business wants to build a simple chatbot to capture leads on its website or a more complex chatbot that utilizes Machine Learning and an NLP engine and functions like popular virtual assistants Siri and Alexa, the steps for building chatbots are as follows:
- Define purpose and goals
- Choose the right tools
- Map conversation flow
- Integrate Natural Language Processing (NLP)
- Develop and test the chatbot
- Monitor, maintain, and improve your chatbot
Define Purpose and Goals
Before you start building your chatbot, it’s vital to clearly understand its purpose and goals. What will the primary function of your organization’s chatbot be? Perhaps it will be used to augment the customer support provided by a human agent, act as a lead generation tool, or provide value or entertainment to your users.
There are many ways your organization can utilize a chatbot. However, if you don’t have a clear idea of what this purpose is before development, you run the risk of encouraging an unfocused and meandering development process that doesn’t produce a final product that benefits your business.
During this stage of the chatbot development process, it is helpful to consider the questions your chatbot will answer. For example, perhaps your organization wants a chatbot to integrate with Facebook Messenger to capture social leads and answer common product questions.
Your organization should also consider who the target audience of your chatbot will be. Understanding your audience is a critical component of building a successful chatbot.
Defining your chatbot’s purpose and goals before development will guide its design, functionality, and User Experience.
Choose the Right Tools
Once you have defined the purpose and objectives of your chatbot, you’ll need to choose a chatbot platform, framework, or other technical approach to build it. There are several ways to approach chatbot development, depending on your technical expertise and requirements.
Chatbot-building platforms offer the most effective solution If you’re not a programmer or don’t have technical development capabilities. Chatbot platforms like Dialogflow, Microsoft Bot Framework, and Chatfuel are popular options that offer user-friendly interfaces and require little to no coding.
Finally, some platforms, like Facebook Messenger and Slack, provide development kits and APIs for building chatbots on their platforms. These chatbot development kits are SDKs with everything you need to build a chatbot for the corresponding platform.
Before you get any further in the development process, choose the option that best suits your organization’s business needs and its technical expertise.
Map Conversation Flow
Whether you are building your first chatbot or your 100th, creating a well-structured conversation flow is crucial for an effective chatbot. When mapping your chatbot’s conversation flow, there are several important factors to consider.
First, you need to consider how your chatbot will gather user input. Will it gather user input through text, buttons, voice, or something else? When you understand how user input will be gathered, you can begin to think about how your chatbot will respond.
Will you use simple predetermined and defined responses, or will you employ deep learning and NLP to produce dynamic interactions with users? If your needs are simple, you probably only need predefined responses. However, if you have more complex ideas, your chatbot will have to be able to respond dynamically to user input.
What happens when your chatbot doesn’t understand the query? Fallback mechanisms help your chatbot handle questions it doesn’t understand or cannot answer effectively.
Finally, consider context management and user intent. Chatbots that cannot maintain the context of the conversation or understand user intent to provide relevant responses will frustrate users.
Integrate Natural Language Processing (NLP)
If you want your organization’s chatbot to produce human-like responses and respond intelligently to user queries, you will need to integrate natural language processing technologies with your chatbot.
Luckily, your organization does not have to generate NLP capabilities on its own. Your company can utilize services such as Google’s BERT or OpenAI’s GPT models to greatly enhance your chatbot’s ability to process language.
Due to the explosion of generative AI, consumers have significantly higher expectations when it comes to chatbot performance. Using tools like GPT or BERT can help your chatbot deliver an experience that users have come to expect from chatbots.
Develop and Test the Chatbot
If you’re using a chatbot builder, follow the platform’s guidelines to create your chatbot’s logic and test it thoroughly. For developers, write the code for your chatbot’s functionality and ensure it aligns with your defined conversation flow.
No matter which chatbot development path your organization chooses, make sure that the end result is aligned with the requirements, objectives, and goals outlined in the previous steps of the process.
Once development is complete, the real work of honing the chatbot’s capabilities must begin. Testing is crucial to identify and fix any issues or inconsistencies in your chatbot’s behavior. Test your chatbot with a variety of inputs and scenarios to ensure a smooth User Experience.
As you test your chatbot, you will likely need to make tweaks and changes to ensure that the chatbot is performing as expected and meeting the expectations of the organization.
Once your chatbot is developed and thoroughly tested, it’s time to deploy it. Depending on your chosen platform or framework, deployment methods may vary.
If you’re building a Facebook Messenger bot, for example, you’ll need to submit it for review and approval on the platform before it can be deployed.
Monitor, Maintain, and Improve Your Chatbot
You might think your organization is done with chatbot development once it has been deployed, but unfortunately, this is not the case. After deployment, continue to monitor your chatbot’s performance, perform maintenance, and make improvements.
Collect user feedback, track key metrics, and help your organization determine how to update its chatbot. Regular updates and refinements will help your chatbot become more effective over time and deliver a better User Experience.
If your chatbot is successful, this part of the development process will last the longest. Ensure that your organization has the resources to handle ongoing support and maintenance of its chatbot.
Creating a chatbot is an exciting venture that can provide value to your business or personal projects.
By defining clear goals, choosing the right platform, designing a user-friendly conversation flow, and integrating NLP, you can build a chatbot that enhances user engagement and efficiency.
With ongoing monitoring and improvements, your chatbot can evolve and provide even more value to its users.