You guys may not realize this, but we usually record the podcast on Sunday mornings. And this Sunday happens to be Father’s Day 2017! So, Happy Father’s Day! Something else y’all may not realize is that Robert and I both have lost our fathers. I lost mine when I was 19. Robert lost his a little over 6 years ago. In honor of our father’s we opted to take Sunday off and just chill. And instead of a podcast, you’re getting this little blurb about what I’ve been working on all weekend. If you’re looking to listen to a podcast, check out our Blog page or head over to our Libsyn page that houses all of our past podcasts.
That’s right, chatbots. Specifically, the chatbot for the FavGeek Facebook page. It’s taken me most of Saturday to rewrite the entire backend, but it’s done. And it’s working! I’ve already had an unknowing participant in my tests. And it worked like a charm. Here’s what I did, why I had to redo it twice, and why I’ve learned so much.
The main reason we decided to implement a chatbot on the FavGeek FB Page was so that we didn’t need a human to answer the questions we got through the page. It was mostly pricing questions (that’s usually what we’re answering on the phone, too), and I knew that we could setup a chatbot to do the dirty work for us. And that meant that I wouldn’t have to answer the Facebook Page anymore! I’m super excited about that. You guys don’t even realize how many times I’d have to stop what I was doing and answer questions on the Facebook page. Now, granted that wasn’t how it was all the time, but it was often enough that it became a problem that needed to be solved. Enter chatbots.
When I first made Oliverbot – the FavGeek chatbot – I just sat down and started making things. I used Chatfuel, and it was very easy to step in knowing absolutely nothing about chatbots. In less than a day I had a working, functioning chatbot. It wasn’t polished, and it wasn’t very useful. But it was there, and it was answering questions (sort of).
I didn’t do any research or really think the flow through on that first go around. When I say “the flow” I’m talking about how people usually interact with us through FB messenger. They start off with a question and want an answer. I started off presenting them with various options they didn’t’ need or want. I put an option for hours up there, but they’d just come from the FB page. It has our hours listed. They don’t need that, and no one is going to click on it! Derp #1. There are also limitations to the amount of options I can put on a single block, and instead of finding a better way of presenting all the options, I just plowed forward using a BUNCH of small blocks. It was hard to navigate and aggravating to go through.
I hadn’t thought through the design of the chatbot. I was just writing to put something down. I’d done no homework. I hadn’t really thought about how it would work at all. It was a disaster.
One day last week Robert and I had a business meeting with an associate. At some point last week this associate had tested the chatbot at Robert’s request. He said that it was okay, but it was hard to find what he was looking for. I asked him to be more specific. He said he couldn’t find the price to fix his phone screen. I said that was ludicrous. There was a price button right there on the first screen. He said, yes, but that wasn’t what he was looking for. He was looking for the “broken screen” option. I immediately understood. Derp #2. The customers aren’t looking for the price, they’re looking for the problem.
So I rewrote the entire chatbot, problem first, answer second. That’s how our customers naturally found out their answer so that’s how I wrote the chatbot. The first go around, I actually made a woman mad because the chatbot was so poorly designed that she became aggravated interacting with it. I had to shut it down and respond manually. Like I said, disaster.
How does this help you and your business? I don’t know. What kind of business do you have? Are you selling pizza? If so, your chatbot may me an online ordering system! People can go to your page, talk to your chatbot, and have a pizza paid for and delivered without ever talking to a clumsy human. Are you selling women’s country apparel? Chatbots can take those kinds of orders, too. Take payment and tell you that you need to ship an item. There’s a lot chatbots can’t do (humans will always need to be in the loop without some MAJOR programming), but the stuff that takes up a lot of time, answering the same questions again and again? Yup, chatbots have got you covered.