What are chatbot flows? How do you build them?
Your chatbot flow is the most critical factor when it comes to creating a bot that feels natural. But how do you make one that takes into account every possible scenario?
In this article, we're walking you through the art of building chatbot flows that feel right. Let's get started!
What is a chatbot flow?
A chatbot flow is a structure that determines how a conversation will take place, taking into account the questions your chatbot would ask and the various replies that a user could provide. A chatbot flow is a series of paths that a user's responses could trigger.
Each path would consist of nodes that either display, request, or process information. Some of these nodes could even be used to integrate your chatbot with third-party software.
Questions to answer before building your chatbot flows
1. What is your chatbot's purpose?
Determine what you intend your chatbot to do. I'm not saying that your bot has to have only one goal. It can have multiple objectives, but you need to outline them clearly. This is the foundation upon which you will build all your chatbot flows.
Do you need it to drive sales? Maybe you need it to schedule appointments. Perhaps you want to use it for 24/7 customer service.
Whatever your goals are, you need to define them clearly.
2. Who are your users, what do they need, and how do they behave?
Identify who your chatbot's primary users will be. Are these going to be prospects who are just hearing about you? Are they new customers who haven't quite understood how to best use your offerings yet? Are your bot's users customers who face sudden issues with your offerings and need help?
There could be many other types of users. You need to identify your primary customers, the ones you seek to serve the most through your chatbot.
Now, what are the most common issues they face? What do they already ask your sales and support teams about the most? These are the issues that you need to train your bot on the most. Your bot needs to be able to resolve as many of these queries as possible. In case some of these are too complex for the bot, you need to make it possible for your chatbot to transfer customers to a live agent.
Finding out how your users most commonly behave is also very important for building chatbot flows. Understand how they navigate across your website, which sections leave them confused, and where they would be most likely to ask your bot a query.
3. Who is your bot?
You don't want to leave your customers talking to a dull bot. You need to give your bot a personality, preferably one that matches your brand. Give your bot a persona and a story.
For example, when George Hanshaw, Director of E-learning at Los Angeles Pacific University, was building a chatbot for a nursing course, the team built the bot based on a colleague's personality.
This colleague had earned the name Agent R because she was always going on trips to distant lands before the pandemic and coming back with fascinating stories. They lent her personality to the bot and even created an avatar that wore a nurse's outfit and sunglasses to display a cross between a nurse and an agent.
Giving your bot a personality makes it vibrant. It even fascinates your users. So, what's your bot going to be like?
After you answer that, it's time to get started with the chatbot flows.
How do you make a chatbot flow?
Sure, you could dive straight into the platform and wing it. But we'd suggest preparing in advance. Get out a pen and a paper (or a whiteboard) and design a rough flow chart for your conversations.
You don't need to fill in the actual responses just yet. Just keep the general purpose of the message in mind.
Once you have a rough draft, you can finetune it on a tool like draw.io. You can get a little bit more specific in this step.
Once you're done with that, you can replicate it on Engati's no-code visual flow builder.
Fill in rough messages in the nodes for now. Don't spend too much time here; you can always fine-tune them after your flow is ready.
While you could build your entire chatbot flow in a single path, that isn't the best idea. Creating separate paths for different scenarios will make it easier for you to understand your flow and edit it in the future. These paths can be connected using the Trigger Path node.
Once you're done making your flow, proceed to polish the messages in the nodes. Make sure that they match your bot's personality.
Now, it's time for your to test your flow. You can test individual paths by pressing the play button on the top left corner of your path builder.
Building your chatbot flow is not a one-and-done task. You need to keep improving it as your customers, and your business evolve.
You can train your chatbot in two different ways on Engati.
First, you can upload FAQs either individually or in bulk.
However, you don't need to upload these FAQs manually. With Engati's DocuSense technology, you can automate the training process. All you need to do is upload your documents. Your chatbot will use cognitive search to parse through your documents, 12 pages every 8 seconds. It will pull answers directly from your documents and deliver them to your customers.
And the best part? You don't even need to format your documents into questions and answers.
Now that you know how to build a chatbot flow, it's time to address another question.
How do you end a chatbot flow?
Too many companies allow their chatbot flows to end abruptly after a user's questions are answered. That's far from ideal.
It feels unnatural. Worse, it looks as though you though care enough about your customers.
Make sure to conclude the conversation by thanking your users for giving you the opportunity to help them. And don't forget to let them know that you're always there for them, just one message away.
A list of nodes that you can use in your chatbot flow
These nodes can be segmented into four categories:
Display Information Nodes
- Data Input Nodes
- Processing Nodes
- Integration Nodes
1. Display Information Nodes
These nodes are used to present information to the end-user.
- Send Message Node: This node is used to send basic text and emoji messages to your users.
- Send Message With Options Node: Use this node to send a message with predefined options for your bot users to choose from.
- Send Image, Video, and Audio Nodes: These nodes allow you to make your bots more interactive by sending images, videos, and audio files.
- Custom Card Node: With this node, you can create your own custom code via HTML and CSS
- Send Carousel Node: This node helps you send interactive messages with images, text, subtext, links, and buttons. It is primarily used to display offerings.
- Randomize Messages Node: Use this node to send messages from a particular set at random.
2. Data Input Nodes
You can use these nodes to collect information from end-users.
- Feedback Node: This node allows users to provide feedback in the form of ratings.
- Identity Node: Use this node to collect user input in an input form and add an authentication validation
- Request User Data Node: It enables the chatbot to read inputs and save them as attributes or entities. It is beneficial for generating leads and personalizing experiences.
- Slider Node: It allows the user to provide inputs visually using a slider.
- Form Node: This node gives you more control over the validations of each field. It's critical for lead generation and data capture.
- File Upload Node: This allows your users to upload files to your bot. They do this either as a public upload, a private upload, or a direct upload.
3. Processing Nodes
These nodes help you handle & process information and make conversation flow branching decisions.
- Filter FAQ Node: This allows users to limit the category/categories of FAQs addressed in a path.
- Send Email Node: You can configure an email node anywhere in the bot and send out notifications to your users.
- Pause Node: Use this to slow down the conversation, allowing the user to process the information you have sent.
- Send SMS Node: It allows you to send SMS notifications to your users.
- Trigger Live Chat: This node routes the conversation to one of your live agents.
- Trigger Path Node: Use this node to send your user down another path.
- Subscribe/Unsubscribe From Campaign Nodes: This allows your users to opt-in or opt-out of the campaigns you're running over your chatbot.
- Decision Node: With this node, you can direct the chatbot flow based on the user and the bot's interaction.
- Webview Node: This is used for use-cases that involve a third-party web interface. It has inbuilt parameters for Stripe and Google OAuth.
4. Integration Nodes
These nodes allow you to extend your marketing and support systems by integrating them with Engati.
- Salesforce: Integrate Salesforce with Engati to make it easier for your bot and your agents to handle tickets.
- Zendesk: Use Engati with Zendesk to create tickets, retrieve ticket details, and update them directly over your bot.
- Freshdesk: Like Zendesk, integrate Freshdesk to create tickets, retrieve details, and update them from your chatbot.
- Google Sheets: This node allows your bot to pull data from the sheets, add new data, and modify existing data.
- Google Calendar: It allows your bot to schedule appointments, demo calls, time slots for activities, and team meetings.
- Zapier Integrations: You can use Zapier to integrate Engati with any of the cloud services they support.
- JSON API: Engati allows you to use JSON REST APIs with the GET, POST, and PUT methods.
Best practices for building chatbot flows
1. Inform users that they're chatting with a bot
Do not mislead users into thinking that they're chatting with a human. Let them know that they're conversing with an intelligent bot, and if need be, you can route them to a live agent.
2. Cut your messages short
You wouldn't want to read a message that looks like a massive chunk of text. Don't force your customers to do that either.
3. Give your customers a chance to reply
Don't send too many messages in rapid succession. Give your customers a chance to read them and respond.
4. Collect feedback
Ask your customers how they felt about their interaction with your bot. You can use the feedback node to collect ratings. You can even ask them for subjective feedback. This will not only help you improve your chatbot flow, but it will also make your customers feel like you care about them.
5. Enable small talk
Don't assume that your customers just want to talk business and keep it to the point. Your bot should be able to respond to questions like "How are you doing?" or "Good morning."
All you have to do is go to the Conversations section in the Configure tab and enable small talk.
There you have it. Everything you need to build chatbot flows that your customers will love. Now it's time to give it a shot yourself. Try Engati's visual chatbot flow builder today!