Chatbots are digital assistants that can engage conversationally with your customers or colleagues, using a text- or voice-based interface. Their purpose is to answer questions, provide recommendations, automate tasks and deliver other services, depending on the capabilities of the underlying technology framework.

Many organisations choose to launch chatbots or voice assistants in order to stay relevant in a market where customers expect personalised brand experiences and instant service at any hour of the day or night. However, there is so much choice available in the chatbot landscape, that it can be difficult to pinpoint the best solution for your business.

To help narrow down your options, we recommend you ask the following questions:

  1. Where will a chatbot solution add the most value?

If you haven’t done so already, evaluate the business processes and enterprise systems you have in place and locate the bottlenecks, pain points and information gaps that could be addressed by a conversational bot or virtual assistant. If you are able to identify and prioritise chatbot use cases, you’ll have a better idea of the business value you require from this type of technology investment.

  1. Do you want your chatbot to be intelligent?

As approaches to automation evolve, more chatbots – and other types of bots – are being augmented with AI capabilities. Through the combination of chatbot technologies, process automation platforms and cognitive systems, companies can create intelligent chatbots that can, for example, use natural language processing to converse more organically, understand more nuanced commands and translate text into multiple languages. Intelligent chatbots can also use machine learning to recognise patterns, ‘learn’ from past interactions and improve performance over time.

  1. Can it be customised?

An off-the-shelf chatbot solution may be perfect for you if you just need an automated tool for answering simple customer queries. If you require a solution that is more intelligent, however, a custom chatbot solution can provide your users and customers with more contextualised and individualised set of services – and evolve over time to meet new business needs.

Going the custom route does not necessitate an expensive, disruptive and drawn-out development process. It’s possible to opt for a solution that is built on a foundation of market-ready technologies, as well as one that integrates smoothly with the software assets you already have in place.

Another benefit of going the custom route is being able to do a proof of concept or take a minimal viable product (MVP) approach first, in order to test assumptions and make sure you are investing in a solution that works for your business.

  1. Can it route tasks to humans?

While intelligent chatbots use AI, robotic process automation (RPA) and other technologies to extend the automation cycle, the goal here is not to leave people out of the loop entirely – but rather to delegate the mundane, time-consuming work to bots, so that human professionals can refocus their skills on higher-value work.

No matter how smart you want your chatbot solution to be, it’s important to plan for efficient human-machine collaboration. It therefore makes sense to look for a chatbot solution that has in-built process management capabilities. Through the addition of a digital process automation (DPA) platform, for example, you can easily route tasks between chatbots, humans and other systems to create seamless customer and user experiences.

Ultimately, you want a chatbot solution that can recognise when it needs to hand-off to a skilled human expert, as well as manage this transition smoothly.

  1. Can the chatbot execute or trigger a workflow?

Chatbots can play a valuable role in automating monotonous tasks, such as scheduling meetings, retrieving and collating data across multiple systems, and processing transactions. In a customer service scenario, they can be very useful in handling routine customer conversations, product queries, booking requests and other interactions.

When people are able to offload certain tasks to chatbots, they can focus on other areas of their roles that require professional judgement or human cognitive skills. However, for a chatbot to action your requests, it must be able to trigger or carry out an automated workflow. It must also be able to access a range of different systems – which brings us to the next point on this checklist…

  1. Can it integrate with other systems?

In order for a chatbot to automate a process, it needs to form part of a technology stack that can connect the various systems and services that the process relies on. You therefore need to ensure that your chatbot solution includes process automation technology, such as DPA or RPA, that allows it to integrate with and take action in multiple other systems. These include legacy enterprise software and third-party applications.

With proper integrations in place, chatbots can action tasks faster than any human could.

  1. Have expectations been managed?

When implemented well, a chatbot solution can scale up productivity without the need to increase headcount, optimise operational costs and increase satisfaction among both customers and employees. But it’s important to understand that even the most intelligent chatbots are nowhere close to mimicking human intelligence. Thus, there will always be limitations to what they can offer.

You may want to clarify the scope of services that your chatbot can provide so that your customers and employees can manage their expectations. Hopefully, this approach will give them new ideas on how they could use your chatbot solution to its full potential.

Need expert assistance?

If you are struggling to identify the best use case scenarios and technology stacks for your chatbot solution, you may want to partner with an intelligent automation expert who can guide you every step of the way and make sure you get maximum value from your technology investment.

As experts in all types of intelligent automation, rapidMATION can create a custom chatbot or voice assistant for you that combines market-ready AI and chatbot capabilities from Microsoft, DPA software from K2 and RPA technology from UiPath.

Schedule a discovery session now or register for our webinar on 11 December and join the conversation on intelligent chatbots.