Preventing bot rot: how to keep your chatbot healthy

Digital shelf lives are savage. Web design quickly ages, topical web content has all the lifespan of milk, and even the most innovative web tools are prone to rust. Chatbots are not exempt from this demanding pace, and a neglected chatbot will soon start to suffer from bot rot.

A chatbot isn’t a tool you can simply launch and leave. It’s a digital representative; a highly visible ambassador of your brand. As such, it requires ongoing review, maintenance and optimisation.

Unfortunately, inattention can make your chatbot a liability, causing customer frustration and casting a shadow on your brand. So, what practices should you incorporate to identify bot rot and keep your chatbot healthy?

The problem

As great as chatbots are, their capabilities can become outdated.  Without maintaining your chatbot – regularly reviewing and improving on what it can do – you risk leaving users out in the cold. Meanwhile, your chatbot ends up stagnating in the corner of your site, a lonely, discarded novelty.

A good chatbot experience means repeat use, and more data with which to feed and coach your bot. However, a poorly maintained chatbot, no matter how great at the start, will inevitably lead to bad user experiences and low reuse rates. Bot rot first sets in when a chatbot is left to its own devices for just a little too long.

Updating the chatbot experience

For a chatbot to be successful, it needs to be able to grow alongside growing customer expectations. Chatbots are no longer new, and any teething issues are met with less and less tolerance. Your chatbot needs to be increasingly relevant, helpful, and intelligent to stay in good shape.

So, part of preventing bot rot is having a plan for integrating your bot with new tools and breakthroughs. It could be machine learning and NLP, sentiment analysis, app integrations, or any new and exciting features yet to be created. If you’re not giving your chatbot the means to get smarter, it isn’t going to stand the test of time.

Reviewing interactions

Once your bot is up and running, reviewing its performance is a necessity. Maintaining a healthy chatbot means feeding it with information and tweaking the areas that don’t work. You need to be able to measure the success of your chatbot’s customer interactions.

When reviewing interactions, keep an eye out for common conversation killers. These are sections of conversations that lead to customers disconnecting the chat. Is there anything in common between these instances? Looking for areas in which your chatbot is underperforming shows where bot rot is budding. If you identify a bot rot symptom, find what’s tripping your bot up, and teach it to work around the problems. 

Bot rot symptoms
  • • Misunderstandings and bad responses

Any chatbot confusion disrupting the conversational flow is jarring and frustrating for customers. If customers are frequently disconnecting from a chat following your bot misunderstanding them, you may need to rejuvenate the messages your confused chatbot sends.

  • • Not answering common, easy queries

If a simple query is coming up repeatedly, but your bot cannot understand or answer it, it’s time to teach the bot how to respond. (And maybe update your FAQ page to reflect this too, if necessary.)

  • • Unable to identify when to escalate a query to human support

Bots can’t manage it all and that’s okay. But a chatbot will quickly be discarded by customers if they can’t get the support they need. So, if a bot can’t help a customer, it needs to be able to connect them with someone who can.

  • • No integration with current pages and resources

You need to keep your chatbot up to date with your business and your content. Your chatbot is representing your business, after all. If your chatbot isn’t up to date with you, it’ll provide out of date information, and annoy customers by wasting their time.

Gathering feedback

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy chatbot and prevent bot rot is by gathering and reviewing feedback on your chatbot’s performance. Fortunately, bots are more than capable of collecting their own feedback.

For a smooth transition from conversation to critique, you can simply incorporate a feedback loop into the chatbot’s interaction with the customer. In other words, there’s no need to initiate a new interaction to collect feedback — you can make it possible to provide feedback directly through your chatbot.

When collecting feedback, be sure to allow commentary rather than just quick-fire ratings. You should enable customers to tell you what they wanted if their chatbot experience was subpar, or what they liked if they’re happy with their experience. This provides valuable insight, pinpointing the exact areas that your chatbot is succeeding and failing.

Healthy chatbots

Bot rot is a killer. It assails unchecked chatbots, damaging your customer experience and calling your brand credibility into question. Are you taking active steps to avoid its onset?

A healthy, rot-free bot can mean the difference between great, accessible customer service, and an experience blunder that drives visitors away. So, be sure to maintain the health of your chatbot, and protect it from digital decay.

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