How Do You Make a Chatbot?

It’s time to give the consumer a quick and personal service. Also give your website a fighting chance of meeting your website visitor’s expectations. Let’s build a chatbot!

Elizabeth Lee
August 10, 2022

Are you still afraid that designing your own conversational bot is too much? Just take a deep breath and read on. This article will discuss the essentials of creating a chatbot and should give you some more insights into the chatbot creation process. 

Table of Contents

Chatbots: Definition

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At the most basic level, a chatbot is a computer program that simulates and processes human conversation (either written or spoken), allowing humans to interact with digital devices as if they were communicating with a real person. Chatbots can be as simple as rudimentary programs that answer a simple query with a single-line response, or as sophisticated as digital assistants that learn and evolve to deliver increasing levels of personalization as they gather and process information. 

There are a number of synonyms for chatbot, including "talkbot," "bot," "IM bot," "interactive agent" or "artificial conversation entity." 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Chatbots, also called chatterbots, is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) used in messaging apps.
  2. This tool helps add convenience for customers—they are automated programs that interact with customers like a human would and cost little to nothing to engage with.
  3. Key examples are chatbots used by businesses in Facebook Messenger, or as virtual assistants, such as Amazon's Alexa.
  4. Chatbots tend to operate in one of two ways—either via machine learning or with set guidelines.
  5. However, due to advancements in AI technology, chatbots using set guidelines are becoming a historical footnote.

You’ve probably interacted with a chatbot whether you know it or not. For example, you’re at your computer researching a product, and a window pops up on your screen asking if you need help. Or perhaps you’re on your way to a concert and you use your smartphone to request a ride via chat.

Or you might have used voice commands to order a coffee from your neighborhood café and received a response telling you when your order will be ready and what it will cost. These are all examples of scenarios in which you could be encountering a chatbot.

Chatbot Market Overview

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The global chatbot market overview size was valued at USD 525.7 million in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.7% from 2022 to 2030. The market is expected to be driven by the increasing adoption of customer service activities among enterprises in order to reduce operating costs.

A chatbot is an interactive application developed using either a set of rules or artificial intelligence technology. It is designed to interact with humans through the textual conversation process and is integrated with various messaging services, thereby assisting users in various sectors. Various innovations carried out in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are expected to enhance the features of chatbots. This, in turn, is expected to drive market growth in the coming years.

The market has witnessed significant growth in the last few years. The growth in the need for offering 24x7 customer service and reducing the operational cost by signing the jobs to the chatbots and the rise in consumer demand for self-service operations have led to the increase in product demand. This can be attributed to the growing preference of individuals for messaging applications over social networking sites. Chatbots that are developed for integration with messaging applications are also expected to witness significant demand in the future. Moreover, chatbots are gaining popularity as businesses automate their sales and customer services. The use of chatbots enables organizations to deliver timely services at reduced costs.

There is a significant rise in the usage of messaging services, which is expected to surpass social networking sites in terms of the number of users. There is also a significant development in the natural language processing field, which made the interactions between computer and human languages more streamlined.

The users interacting with the customer service interact with the chatbot through the chatbot interface. The chatbots interact with users via the webpage, mobile applications, or SMS. The chatbots are deployed on various channels such as standalone, website, and third-party messenger platforms. In standalone, bots are integrated with the applications and other software of the enterprises. The chatbot is also usually integrated into the website of the enterprises to assist customers. Third-party messaging platforms such as Facebook, Skype, and WeChat are another mode of deployment of chatbots. The users interact with the chatbots deployed to raise requests or complaints to customer service.

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The chatbot is a messaging service that was developed by using a set of rules and artificial intelligence that can be interacted with via a chat interface. There are two types of chatbots, one which is developed by a set of rules and the other which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Some chatbots also include voice recognition in order to offer an enhanced customer service experience. These chatbots are developed on various chatbot developer frameworks (e.g., wit.ai, motions.ai, Chatty People, etc.), which are included with cloud backup and various other database integrations and integrated into other applications. Currently, chatbot developers are including analytics into the software application in order to get better insights into customer behavior and buying patterns.

With the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, various marketing agencies, financial organizations, and grocery outlets have initialized the full fledge implementation of chatbots and conversational AI tools to enhance customer service in the crisis. Amid the pandemic, businesses face challenges in sustaining and are willing to try new technological avenues such as voice-based assistants and chatbots. In addition, chatbots have assisted the medical and healthcare vertical in these difficult times. Several medical insurance companies and public health institutions worldwide have deployed chatbots to assist users/patients in providing proper COVID-19 advice.

8 Tips for Building Your First Chatbot

 

The use of chatbots for conducting customer service and 24/7 web-based assistance has risen rapidly in the past decade.

According to Mikael Yang, 80% of business-to-customer communication is going to be done through bot messengers within the next three to five years. So, to keep on pace with this trend, you might have considered adding a chatbot to your company’s website, but stopped yourself because you weren’t sure how to approach the challenge.  

If you’re a go-getter and want to make your own chatbot, keep reading for 6 expert tips on creating a chatbot, as well as setbacks and triumphs they had during the process! 

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.

2) Remember these four steps: Build. Train. Deploy. Track.

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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, your bot needs to be shown off to your users once deployed. 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 attention? 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?

Regardless, chatbot tracking is a necessary step to include to find flaws and improve 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!

3) Plan for a time-consuming process.

“It took us about 3 months to develop an MVP which was the first working version of a product. The whole development process is quite time-consuming (from learning and testing processes to the actual chatbot production). Luckily, you can create a chatbot prototype within a couple of months. The prototype is used for UI and conversational flow testing. 

From a technical perspective, we needed to train our chatbot to imitate a human-to-human conversation. For this purpose, we used sequence-to-sequence modeling, which is the same that is used in Google translate. It allows us to generate a large number of conversational logs, so we used different datasets to train our chatbot to respond in a human-like manner. 

When creating a chatbot, you have to consider multiple aspects. First of all, you should have a clear picture of all the tasks for your chatbot. Then, you can create a diagram and analyze how the conversation with a chatbot can flow.  

Since we have extensive expertise, we didn't have to learn how to code. However, for those who are new to programming, there are various sources that can simplify the development process. If you use such sources as DialogFlow for the development of simple bots, you don't even need to code.” 

4) Have coders and analytically-minded people on your team.

“My company built a chatbot from scratch using Python and Google Dialog Flow. It took about 6 months to bring the product to market. Our bot, Adam, guides patients through clinical trials and is capable of answering questions, collecting data, and dynamic scheduling.  

Part of the team knew how to code, and the other part (myself) was analytical and helped with building out some of the algorithms.” 

5) Give the chatbot a “real” voice.

“At my previous job, we developed a chatbot for Coca-Cola. One of the biggest things you must have in mind is imagining a real conversation flow. For that, you have to create a script with questions and answers related to the campaign, brand, or product.

Watch out for being ‘too robotic’ because people normally hate this kind of practice. They want to feel like they are speaking with a human, not with a chatbot. Lastly, always offer a way to chat with a real person for special requests that the chatbot can’t solve.”

6) Budget wisely, especially when using advanced features.

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“I have used 2 different software platforms to build, the first being MobileMonkey, which is a great platform for those just getting introduced to chatbots. The platform I currently use is ManyChat, which is extremely robust and offers all of the features currently available through Facebook Messenger.  

The only real roadblocks in setting up a chatbot are cost (if you’re using advanced features – both the platforms I’ve mentioned have free tiers), time, and some marketing know-how. The learning curve isn’t steep, but it is time-consuming. 

As far as coding goes, you don’t really have to know how to code to make it work. I do have a background in code, so embedding my chatbot on our website wasn’t hard for me. Still, for someone who doesn’t know anything about coding, most platforms give you what code you need, and tell you exactly where to put it.” 

7) Prepare for limitations.

“The time it takes to build a chatbot depends on how complex the bot is. If you are going to do a simple lead generation bot that sends the customer a resource or coupon after they submit their info, this can take less than an hour. However, if you want to do a calculator or quiz where there is a score or multiple outcomes based on your answers, it can take several days to test and make work properly. 

An important function that we try to include in all of our chatbots is being able to pull the lead data and information from people who are interacting with our bots either by using native integrations built into the chatbot software or by Zapier to send the data to our database marketing software like Hubspot. 

As far as limitations, there are many. You can only have so many characters on buttons. The size of your images and videos have to be a certain size.” 

8) Understand AI, NLP, and software development concepts.

“Our company has built chatbots for large tech retail organizations. We have done this from scratch by building out the backend infrastructure and language models, as well as the front-end user experience.

We have a background in natural language processing (NLP), artificial intelligence (AI), and computer science. If one is building a chatbot from scratch, it is important to be an expert in software development concepts, as well as AI concepts of machine learning and NLP. It is also important to know about linguistics, parts of speech (nouns, verbs), and dependency parsing.”  

How to Create Chatbots?

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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 with 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.  

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 most technical:

How to Build a Chatbot 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 in, 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.

Code-Based Chatbot Frameworks

While not exactly software, code-based frameworks for bot development require a programming language, but they give developers the tools to customize their chatbot. These frameworks provide the database tools, and analytic features, and infuse AI into the bot.

Some frameworks for developing a chatbot from scratch are:

  1. Microsoft bot framework
  2. Wit.ai
  3. API.ai 

Creating a Bot for Non-developers

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 to add, specifically for people with no coding background whatsoever.

This means that the bot is programmed to recognize FAQs and key phrases/responses, as well as identify the components of an email address. A chatbot 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.  

Create a Chatbot on 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 the mobile apps Messengers 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, on their phone or laptop 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. 

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 Chatbot Building Platforms

Creating chatbots is extremely easy and within everyone’s reach. There are tons of online bot development tools that you can use for free. We've listed the top 3 chatbot platforms you can choose to create your highly-effective chatbot.

1) TruVISIBILITY

With a chatbot created with TruVISIBILITY, either newbies or expert users can create bots with their no-code, AI Chatbot builder which will surely convert leads, capture vital data, and personalize a customer's journey 24/7. 

The gap between “growing” and “great” is automation. From customer attraction to nurturing, to onboarding, and building fans, our AI Chatbot builder gives you the same tools Fortune 500 brands use to automate their processes. You are welcome to try their long list of free templates or opt to get a monthly subscription of your type. 

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2) Tidio

Tidio offers a live chat solution with chatbots to help you improve customer support. It also provides a live view feature to let you see who’s currently on your website so you can provide proactive customer service. 

This chatbot platform provides a conversational AI chatbot and NLP (Natural Language Processing) to help you with customer experience. You can also use a visual builder interface and Tidio chatbot templates when building your bot to see it grow with every input you make.

Chatbots are often created for particular companies and for specific purposes. Therefore, it is difficult to rank chatbots across the board. There are, however, several websites that rate and rank various popular chatbots found online. However, there does not seem to be any consensus at this point on which are decidedly the best. 

3) MobileMonkey

This chatbot provider is an omnichannel platform that lets you integrate SMS messaging, Instagram, Facebook, and Webchat for better customer service. 

It is the best chatbot platform that is designed to help businesses stay in touch with their customers and attract new leads from social media. It lets you automate follow-ups to improve customer care. 

You can export existing contacts to this bot platform effortlessly. You can also contact leads, conduct drip campaigns, share links, and schedule messages. This way, campaigns become convenient, and you can send them in batches of SMS in advance.

Chatbots are often created for particular companies and for specific purposes. Therefore, it is difficult to rank chatbots across the board. There are, however, several websites that rate and rank various popular chatbots found online. However, there does not seem to be any consensus at this point on which are decidedly the best.

What's Next?

The best and easiest way to create your first chatbot is to use a ready-made chatbot template. Simply select the bot you are interested in and open it in the editor. You will be able to see how it is designed and change the messages or alter conversation flow logic as you wish. Now that you've learned about the basics, pick the platform that works for you and start the creation of your first chatbot!