How do I set up a chatbot?

Chat calls are the new user interface. That is at least the statement that two messenger app employees Kik are opening their presentation on SXSW Interactive today. Conversational interfaces, popularly known as chatbots, are one of the most talked about trends at the festival this year. And in this session, the creators of Kik are going through the best examples so far with us.

It’s not strange that chatbots are seen as a new (mobile) interface: It’s much more accessible to interact with a company chatbot in an app you’re already using than you need to download a complete app first. In addition, the user is already accustomed to the interface of such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Kik, so you don’t have to explain anything to him or her. However, a number of rules are important when you want to work with chatbots as a company.

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1. Develop for conversations

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A chatbot is limited in its capabilities and primarily focused on dialogue. So you need to be able to adapt your service to that. Great examples include the Romancenow chatbot: A bot that tells you a romantic story that you can contribute to as a first-person character. So a new form of storytelling.

Another more well-known example is Slack’s Stats Bot: A bot that allows you to get all sorts of random statistics such as traffic on your website while you’re in a team conversation with your colleagues. A logical addition to the ongoing conversation.

2. Start Simple

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The most successful chatbot of the moment is extremely simple and do only one thing. Take for example Kik’s Butter Cheese and Egg chatbot (“Tickers”): You play a simple game in your messenger app, for example while waiting. when You lose the chatbot will laugh at you viciously, and if you win from him, it’s crying in a corner.

It’s exactly that addition of a bit of edge in the form of tone-of-voice that makes you smile while playing a basic game. And that while it would never come to mind to download a Butter Cheese-and-Egg app on your smartphone ever. A chatbot is much more accessible, provided you keep the interface simple.

3. Know Your Audience

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Not every audience uses the same messenger platform. CNN knows how to distinguish the difference between its (older) audience on Facebook from the teenagers who mainly use Kik here in America, and therefore developed two different Chatbots. On Facebook Messengers, CNN Chatbots users receive a daily recap of the most important news so they’re up to date quickly.

On Kik topics, and the focus is more on explaining certain news items, for example how the elections work. Youngsters can also discuss with their friends, use a lot of gifts and respond with news-related stickers to keep the conversation light. The CNN chatbot on Kik is a huge success: Over 1 million young people use the bot.

4. Be Social

You use a messenger app to keep in touch with family and friends. It’s an intimate conversation that complements your daily life and contact with people. When designing a chat interface, you’ll have to take this into account: How to connect to the intimate character of chats and make sure you don’t look like a noisy spammer?

The Roll chatbot is a good example of that: In a chat with your friends on Kik, you can ask Roll to ask any trivia question to you and you. friends. The bot keeps itself aside in the conversation and only adds something (meaningful) if the users ask for it through the command ‘@roll’. The conversation remains natural and casual.

Chatbots become even more important

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According to Kik, we will see a huge increase in chatbot in the coming years, each with their own little added value. There will be more chatbots to book airline tickets, book a taxi, transfer money, manage investments, or make a doctor’s appointment.

A comprehensive PA to take care of everything for you, as we see in the movie Her, is not a logical picture of the future, as the best chatbots excel in simplicity. However, we will be experiencing a transition from written chat interfaces to voice bots in the coming years: rise of Amazon Echo, Google Home and Siri no more than logical course.

However, the most important tip at the moment is simple: Now set the first steps with conversational interfaces, as the trend is going to become more important in the future is certain.

More chatbot examples can be found in the Kik BotShop.

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