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Brands attach a lot of importance to customer relationships because it is the nature of user experience that determines their future course of action. Human engagements in the context of sales and marketing are fascinating in that they entail a confluence of mixed emotions─reluctance, exchange of smiles, perched lips, humorous banters, variations in tones, etc. It is these interactions that lend an indelible impression on the buyer’s mind.

Now, what happens if a program, more specifically a chatbot, evinces the same range of emotions?

More importantly, are chatbots capable of evoking these emotions and influencing a buyer’s psyche?

These questions are not insignificant because chatbots can be designed to create a highly personalized user experience, something that is not too dissimilar to your interaction with a friendly salesperson. Such questions have also captivated the imagination of industry giants, such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, and has gone one step further to suggest that the future of their operating systems eventually lies with a conversational platform. They concur that artificial intelligence is the way forward to lend the coveted “personal touch” to the look and feel of brands.

Enhancing the Visual Appeal of a Chatbot

While it can be an onerous task to create a chatbot that is both efficient and visually attractive from the standpoint of a UX, it is definitely possible. The challenge is to get the bot to be in sync with user inputs, accessing stored information appropriately and anticipate what they want in advance.

Here are a few steps that can simplify and streamline the process:

Select a Suitable Toolkit

Before commencing the development of a bot, you must realize that you are unlikely to have a lot of control over the appearance of that app. The key is to not lose sleep over layouts and styling, especially if it’s going to be a voice-based chatbot.

There are some useful tools that will help you create a strong, effective chatbot include chattypeople.com.

Remember, the styles and controls deployed in standard apps are typically not applicable to conversational chatbots.

Get the Ball Rolling

A conversational design transforms the manner in which people engage with a bot. Unlike traditional apps which feature a familiar-looking menu with standard buttons, a tryst with a chatbot can leave some users feeling lost. This is because they will interact with a screen that is virtually blank, leaving plenty of room for ambivalence. Hence, it is important to use suggestive hints at every step and highlight unfamiliar attributes gradually.

The first challenge is to inform the user about what exactly is going to happen. It is best to begin with a simple introduction and a matter-of-fact CTA (call to action). You may want to keep it short, sweet, and simple. Encourage users to know AND experience a tangible benefit of the app and make them access the result immediately.

If you can, add buttons because they offer a hint to users about the kind of questions which can be addressed by a chatbot. Also, not all bots are smart enough to identify typos.

Make the Conversation Smooth

The trickiest aspect of designing a bot is to ensure that the conversational flow is smooth and effortless. That said, interacting with humans is inexorably non-linear and unpredictable. To that end, here are a few tips to boost your chatbot’s performance:

─ Train your bot on distinguishing between different questions: Start off by developing a range of questions that the chatbot will be able to understand and address accurately. Thankfully, there is a wonderful library called qTypes, which features more than 40 sub-categories on how to answer questions and their format.

Based on these standard questions, the chatbot can refer to the library to address them. These include:

• YN- These are questions which can be answered with a yes or a no
• WH- These questions begin with what, who, why, and when
• CH-Here, the chatbot needs to choose between two alternatives
• TG- This is basically an option to keep the conversation going and does not denote a question per se.

Validate the Input Data

In a conversational setup, you will find it difficult to refine and restrict the input data before processing it. Since the user can answer in any manner that they deem fit, you would do well to be intuitive while structuring your questions and formulating the replies. You may want to avoid constructing open-ended questions because they can cause ambiguity. Instead, give them hints about the type of answer you anticipate. Or else, package the information as per the format of the platform you are creating it on.

Now, if the user answers correctly, confirm the same and replicate it before proceeding to the next question. If the answer is invalid, tell them what went wrong and what type of response you expect from them. It is an excellent idea to separate answers that you are unable to understand from those that you cannot accept, notwithstanding their aptness. In case of typos, ask them to confirm what they have entered or create more sophisticated message sequences.

Await User Inputs

Sometimes, it will become imperative for the user to input crucial information that is needed for the conversation to proceed. Unlike standard GUIs where this predicament is resolved using a Yes/No pop-up format, you need to be creative while handling this situation in a conversational setup and prevent the bot from getting repetitive. Succinctly explain the particular step that is necessitated and its importance. You could come up with a few snippets to keep the conversation smooth. Alternately, leverage pre-suggested texts and buttons that can be used for asking questions as well as answering them.

Think Like a Content Curator

Don the hat of a copywriter while creating a chatbot because it is the content which will determine the style of your app. The endeavor should be to imbibe free-slowing conversations into the narrative that offer a pleasant user experience.

If possible, the user flow should be similar to that of engaging in a normal conversation with another human. At the same time, the chatbot should not be too cheeky and use unclear language. It is also not a good idea to make use of gender-specific pronouns because you cannot guess the gender of the user. You may want to create human-sounding canned messages incorporating helpful suggestions when the user feels like they don’t know what to do next.

Final Thoughts

Before creating a visually appealing chatbot, you may want to define its exact scope and purpose. Envision what kind of value it will provide to the user. Ideally, your efforts should be directed at training the bot to do one particular thing very well instead of experimenting with complicated tasks that can diminish its efficacy.

For instance, teach it to provide flight updates or display a customized restaurant menu. The chances are that your chatbot will accomplish more than you’d ever imagined.