For the past few years, chatbots have taken over the corporate world by storm.
At first, businesses used them as technology-fueled virtual assistants to accomplish varying customer service tasks. For that reason, chatbots became the most popular buzzword in the industry.
For those not familiar with chatbots, it is a type of conversational AI that enables human interaction with computers.
As years go by, chatbots also referred to as bots, have morphed into great intelligent computer applications with the capability to help companies with vital tasks including marketing, other sales efforts, and human resource activities.
Unfortunately, as the technology assistants-chatbots, continue to make their mark in the companies they need to be built properly to offer real value.
A chatbot development agency will ensure you have an adequately developed bot with all the abilities to help you gain the business benefits online chatbots can offer including improved customer service, increased reach, automation and scalability. That’s the goal of this informational guide: to assist companies in hiring a chatbot development agency by following a simple guideline, understand the value of chatbots to a business, and know the mistakes to avoid.
First, here is a reminder of What Chatbots Can Do For Your Company:
Save Time and Costs
Chatbots allow you to save countless hours by automating conversations that would otherwise need additional staff to answer.
Generate Revenues and Leads
Chatbots help you to gather important data from visitors to your website. The information is used to enhance support. It also automatically sends critical leads to the sales department. For instance, e-commerce chatbots help online stores to scale up customer service and increase conversions.
Provide Support 24/7
Chatbots provide quick answers for organizations that do not work for 24 hours. Customers are able to access information even after office hours. Chatbots, therefore, enhance the response rate as per customer demands.
Step-By-Step Guide to Hiring a Chatbot Development Agency
1. Needs Assessment
The first step to hiring a chatbot development agency is to conduct a needs assessment in your company. An internal assessment will assist in identifying the value you truly plan to derive from chatbots.
The best chatbot development agency will act as a developer and a strategist. The chatbot development agency customs your bot based on the business needs, online presence and digital standing despite the complexities of the tasks.
2. Background Research
Conduct thorough background research on potential agencies. Get to know their chatbot development services to identify if they meet your business needs. Chatbot development services may cover customer service and inbound sales just to highlight a few.
The goal of the research is to narrow down your list of potential chatbot development agencies to those that can build chatbots that can work with your target tools.
3. Choose a Digital Agency that Understands your Strategy
An agency that specializes in custom bot development should be able to help you develop a chatbot strategy and elaborate it for you. A potential chatbot development agency will give you a clear vision of what questions your chatbot should address, the type of technology to be used and how to align it with your digital standing and business strategy.
4. Consider your Budget
At this stage, consider the service packages of the chatbot development agency. For example, C9 Digital has both a full-time developer and project-based service packages. You can evaluate the costs of each package as well as benefits to identify the most appropriate package for your chatbot development project.
It is essential to note that the cost of your bot will depend on the complexity, functionality, and scalability across platforms, integrations, and other variables. Consult your top preferred agency to get an estimate of how much your chatbot may costs. One of the benefits of hiring a chatbot development agency is actually the ability to seek clarity on budget issues. Some agencies are also flexible and can give you an hourly estimate for your chatbot development and still deliver exceptional results.
However, it is advisable to prioritize on the experience of the agency more than the costs. A reputable chatbot development agency with high experience has the benefits of developing an effective chatbot within a shorter period of time. Besides, the chatbot development agency can add all the integrations and interactions you need to your bot such as Customer Relationship Management (CRMs), domotics, sale management software, account linking and much more and not necessarily get restricted by a budget.
5. Review the Portfolio and Past Chatbots Projects
It is advisable that you hire a chatbot development agency that has already working chatbots. Check the agency’s website to review their case studies. If the bots are protected ask for a demo.
The inability of a chatbot development agency to demonstrate any live chatbot is a red flag to look out for.
6. Interview Stage
After engagement with the selected chatbot development agency, conduct a detailed interview. During the interview, it’s important to have a checklist for verification in line with the needs assessment results.
These questions can assist you in identifying the right chatbot development agency:-
Top Interview Questions for a Chatbot Development Agency
- Which programming languages are you familiar with?
- How familiar are you with natural language processing (NLP)?
NLP allows the chatbot to appear more human and a chatbot development agency that is familiar with it will build a bot that is conversational.
- What’s your experience with Markov Chains?
A chatbot development agency that has the capability of manipulating Markov Chains can easily create suitable and coherent responses for your chatbot.
Skills to look for in a Chatbot Development Agency
A chatbot development agency has many roles and functions; therefore teamwork is a critical element.
Excellent Communication Skills
Effective communication between the agency’s team and your team enable them to work together and move the project further along.
Effective Problem-Solving Skills
As a developer, the persistent problem-solving ability is essential. Learn how the ideal candidate to build your bot tackles problems to identify whether they have the urge to overcome challenges to see that your project is a success.
Perfect Understanding of the Software Industry
Hire an agency that is tuned with current issues in the software industry.
A chatbot development agency that is aware of what is happening in the relevant industry is able to build a quality bot. You can gauge a chatbot development agency’s industry knowledge using these questions;
✔ How do you manage to keep up with emerging trends in chatbot development?
✔ What emerging chatbot trend have you identified in the past six months?
7. Tools Consideration
Some chatbot development agencies use their own tools for chatbot development. The main advantage of choosing such an agency is that the costs are much lower and you enjoy quicker delivery compared to developing a chatbot from scratch.
However, a company should be careful while choosing a chatbot development agency that uses their own bot development tools since you are locked up to their technology. It will be difficult to find another provider as other developers may not work with their proprietary solution.
The last step is hiring the chatbot development agency that will best meet your company needs. All negotiations and contracts must be read, agreed, signed and sealed. Training must also be provided if required.
The agency must remain in contact in case of any clarifications and testing. Once delivered, the chatbot must be operational and ready to be used.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Failure to integrate the chatbot properly
Align your bot with the goals and metrics your company wants to achieve to the right audience, with the right bot functionality.
Use of vague and uninformative description
Ensure you describe your bot to inspire users to engage. The descriptions help your bot to be adopted, understood and discovered.
Failure to clarify your bot is not human
Accomplish this by adding the word bot or assistant to the name of the chatbot or let it clarify its role at the start of the conversation with customers
Overlooking the need for user tests
Ensure the agency conducts robust user tests before launch to identify and correct any bugs.
Overlooking the need to create a chatbot site
Create a landing page for the chatbot for users to read and get to know the functionality of your bot.
Developing a chatbot from scratch can be costly while managing it can be challenging. Bots need ongoing iteration to ensure they continuously meet the business needs.
A chatbot development agency should have adequate experience with building bots of all kinds and complexities. They should also be well-versed with the practical issues of implementing bots and help business owners with proven solutions.
Hire a Chatbot development agency that can help your company to avoid mistakes and capitalize on strengths.
Kannan, P.V., & Bernoff, J., (2019). Does Your Company Really Need a Chatbot? Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2019/05/does-your-company-really-need-a-chatbot
Nagar, T. (2019, February 15). Know about Chatbot Development Trends in 2019. Retrieved from Customer Think: https://customerthink.com/know-about-chatbot-development-trends-in-2019/