How to improve chatbot UX: top tips from the specialists

Recent studies show that 66% of customers have had the worst possible chatbot experience, rating the service they received just 1 out of 5. Yet the overall chatbot satisfaction rate is far from conclusive. Indeed, 80% of people rate their experiences with chatbots as generally positive.

These mixed feelings demonstrate that chatbot technology, in and of itself, is not the problem. Rather, customer sentiment towards chatbots varies from chatbot to chatbot, from company to company. The company’s bot deployment approach is all.

So, to deliver chatbot experiences that support customers smoothly, organisations must implement their bot strategically. And, crucially, they must focus on the bot user experience (UX).

But how do you improve chatbot UX? Here are our top tips.

Tip 1: Make chatbot use easy

The first step to improving chatbot UX is to make your chatbot as easy to use as possible. This means that it needs to be clear to users exactly what the chatbot can do, and how to use it.

Or, in other words, improve chatbot UX by setting clear expectations — and meeting them.

One way you can do this is by having the chatbot offer relevant reply suggestions. (I.e., buttons for the user to select pre-set responses.) This can be particularly powerful at the start of the interaction to guide the user and get the conversation flowing smoothly.

Another way for chatbots to guide users is by asking questions for the user to answer, rather than the other way around.

Once the user has been guided into a topic that your chatbot can handle, the questions can open to invite typed, human replies.

Tip 2: Tune the bot’s voice

Chatbot voice is what makes your bot fun to talk to. It gives the chatbot personality. When done right, then, the bot’s tone of voice can remove the robotic feeling from the equation.

As such, improving chatbot UX involves tightly tuning your chatbot voice.

First, the voice of your chatbot needs to be in-keeping with your brand tone of voice. It also needs to strike a balance between the formality of giving support, with the informality that a chat setting invites.

Second, your chatbot voice needs to be consistent. If it fluctuates between robotic, formal, human, informal, and so on, it’s jarring and irritating for the user.

Tip 3: Deal with failure

Sometimes, chatbots fail. Something goes wrong, mistakes happen — even with a perfectly tuned chatbot.

For instance, the bot fails to understand a user. Chatbot failure is a huge detriment to chatbot UX. So, improving UX means being prepared for chatbot failure, and minimising its impact.

Naturally, the best way to do this is to minimise occurrences of chatbot failure. But that’s easier said than done, and can take time while you fine-tune messages and add more ways to respond.

So, in the meantime, you need to make sure that chatbot failure is handled well. This means well-written fallback messages, and enabling the chatbot to guide the user out of an error. For example, by returning to button-based replies to get the conversation back on track.

Tip 4: Always give an alternative

Keeping chatbot UX up-to-standard also means making sure that your users aren’t being forced to use it when they don’t want to.

In other words, always make sure there’s an alternative available. For instance, an escalation option to chat to a human, or a “create a support ticket” / callback option during out of hours periods.

Your chatbot isn’t replacing humans. It’s a useful support act. So, it shouldn’t act as a barrier to human support. Make sure that if the customer wants to talk to a human, the chatbot will help them do that.

Tip 5: Don’t neglect the small details

Our final top tip for improving chatbot UX is to make sure your bot takes care of the little conversational details.

This means, for example, making sure it says hello, thank you, and goodbye. Make sure it replies in good time, without answering too quickly.

You could also consider giving your chatbot a profile image. One way to give a small boost to chatbot UX is to give the bot a face. This doesn’t have to be a human face — it can be a picture of a robot, a smiley face, or a brand mascot. The idea is that it gives users something to look at and engage with in between messages.

Bonus tip: ongoing monitoring

Improving chatbot UX is all about careful fine-tuning. So, the true key to a good chatbot experience is ongoing monitoring.

You need to monitor your chatbot KPIs, tweak your messages, and update the offers the chatbot will send. Ask for and review feedback from users — they’re the ones to tell you if it’s working for them.

Once you’ve fine-tuned your chatbot once, don’t abandon it — watch it perform. And then fine-tune it again. And again. And again.

Keeping on top of chatbot UX

Remember, a chatbot is a conversational platform. So, conversation needs to be at the core of your chatbot user experience.

The key to improving chatbot UX is not to treat it like a human agent — but to remember it’s a bot. It needs your expert guidance.

Fine-tune the messages, keep on top of monitoring. And never stop improving your chatbot’s ability to help your customers thrive.  

Useful links

Overcoming consumer chatbot fatigue

The pros and cons of a flow-based chatbot

A roundup of the worst chatbot feedback on Twitter, and what to learn from it

3 chatbot pitfalls to avoid

Chatbot KPIs: looking through a different lens