Chatbots: Two Important Questions

With all this talk about digitization and integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into everything, User Experience (UX) designers are constantly trying to figure out a way to seemingly “improve” user engagement and “maximize” retention by making use of AI in some way. One of the ways designers have come up with to improve UX that has gained a fair amount of attention is the use of “chatbots”.

Chatbots Are Annoying

It’s not just us who think so, but most likely a good handful of users who have dealt with these online robots before can testify to this. Don’t get me wrong, chatbots have potential, but we’re just not there yet. We still do not have the right algorithms and data to provide the public with chatbots that can carry “human-like” conversations.

How many users have spent more than 15-minutes – equivalent to eons in a User Experience Designer’s world – receiving error messages like “I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand.” or anything similar when trying to obtain certain information from an emotionless online drone that they could’ve easily gotten by pressing a few buttons instead? You, and the user, would’ve been better off improving UX or UI enhancing navigation on your website or increasing load speed than spending precious time (and money) introducing chatbots that add absolutely no value.

If you’re still insisting that chatbots will undoubtedly make your website look good, then make sure you’re making the right decisions by asking yourself these two essential questions.

Ask Yourself These Two Questions

Will chatbots improve our website and address current issues, or are we just doing it because everyone else is?

Take a real, hard look at your website and answer the question honestly; is a chatbot really necessary? The one thing most people usually neglect is value, more specifically, user value. Most of the time, users are fine with what they have available on your website and chatbots, believe it or not, may just get in the way. It’s never a good idea to add a feature onto your website just for the fun of it, because while it looks “cool” and gives you an excuse to say that you’ve “gone completely digital”, it might push your users away.

As mentioned before, there are plenty of ways you can improve UX and making your UI look sleeker and more modern that certainly don’t involve chatbots.

Do we have the right resources and time to continually improve on the users’ interaction with the chatbot?

A common misconception amongst anyone experiencing a plateau in traffic on their website, is that they add a chatbot and think they can just leave it. That’s one way to set yourself up for failure. A chatbot’s conversation protocols need constant revision and new data needs to be inserted into its system in order to improve conversation flow. What kind of data? That’s something you need to organically collect on your own through statistical analyses by conducting surveys after users interact with the chatbot, for example. There’s a lot of effort that’s placed into improving structural flow of a conversation between a chatbot and the user, and unfortunately, since the performance of chatbots is still being researched, that effort is not enough to fully improve its functions.

Mull it over. Think about the questions above and make sure whatever steps you take or decisions you make will positively affect your users and add value to their experience.