chatbot | 7 MIN READ
Enterprises love tools that can automate operations and provide ultimate scaling opportunities while keeping their brand’s image intact. In recent times, chatbots have emerged to do all this and a lot more. And that’s the reason why enterprises are widely adopting chatbots.
In the 2019 Gartner CIO Survey, CIOs identified chatbots as the major AI-based application used in their respective enterprises.
Not only this, but Gartner had also predicted that by 2021, more than 50% of enterprises will spend more money per annum on chatbots than in traditional mobile app development. We are approaching 2023, and this number is surely going to shoot up.
With such a high demand, enterprise chatbot development has become a must for enterprises worldwide.
However, enterprise chatbots also have their share of challenges, especially when it comes to its development process. But don’t worry, we have come up with a detailed guide where we will list out the best enterprise chatbot development practices that you can follow to build a robust chatbot for your enterprise.
1. Spend 60% of Your Time Defining Scope and Process
As Abraham Lincoln famously said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”, if he had been a chatbot expert, he would have probably said the same about enterprise chatbot development as well.
Here, you must invest a major chunk of your time and effort in defining the scope and the process. If you fail to do it, it can turn out to be an economic catastrophe.
Imagine enterprise chatbot development as building a skyscraper like Burj Khalifa. First, you must sort out its foundation. Once it is over, only then you can proceed to build the building. If there are any issues in the foundation, no matter how well you construct the building, it is bound to fall.
So, the next question is — how to define a scope and process? Well, there are a few steps that help you to define scope in a better way. Let’s have a look at them one by one.
a. Zero in on the Use Case
Defining your use case is the first step in defining the scope. In terms of a chatbot, a use case is an action that can be modeled, managed, and accomplished via conversational interaction between user and the bot.
For example, if you are an eCommerce company, then some of your basic use cases are likely to be:
Persona-based product recommendations
Shipment & Tracking
Cart abandonment recovery
While creating use cases for your enterprise chatbot solution, you must identify:
Business aspects of the flow
Exceptions (if any)
Choosing a use case for your enterprise chatbot solution is vital and requires a strategic approach with steps likes the following:
i. Calculate the ROI
Here, you have to decide what exactly ROI means for your business. For this, you have to establish clear KPIs which can be tracked to gauge the success of your chatbot. ROI will be different for different businesses. For some it could be reduction in the average resolution time and for some other it could be engagement, conversion, etc.
ii. Define Target Audience
The next step is to define a target audience. For this, you can ask the below questions:
Who are they?
What are their expectations?
What is their preferred language?
What are their pain points?
How is their experience with AI chatbots?
The answers to these questions help you to create tailored use case for your enterprise chatbot solution.
iii. Decide Your Chatbot’s Personality
Here, you have to decode how your chatbot will interact with users. For instance, the personality of bots like Alexa and Siri are well-defined to make engaging and user-friendly interactions.
To establish the personality of your chatbot, you must consider the following:
What is the name of the chatbot?
What is the character of the chatbot? (neutral, formal, informative, witty, funny)
What is the avatar?
What tone, vocabulary, or language does it use?
What are its capabilities?
What are goals for a chatbot?
b. List All Possible Scenarios
As they say, one should always be prepared for the worst. Similarly, your enterprise chatbot must also be prepared for any possible interaction that it may face. To do this, you can follow a two phase strategy.
In the first phase, you can design a nominal flow where everything goes as per the plan. Here, the user asks all the right questions and bot provides them with the right answers.
During this step, you must consider few questions like:
How can the bot achieve its goal through a conversation?
What are the questions for which the bot needs answers from the user to finish the task.
What information should the bot share with the user to make the conversation successful?
What is the information that the user must provide to move the conversation forward?
When will the chatbot get information from the external sources (DB, API, etc)
What will happen if the third-party service supplying answers to questions is non-responsive?
What will happen if the expected traffic volume suddenly doubles?
Once you have drawn the nominal flow, it is time to refine the dialogue and consider all the other unusual or infrequent scenarios or conversation exceptions.
Let’s take an example of an eCommerce chatbot to understand it better. For context, the user wants invoice details for their last order.
Now, here the last question asked by the user is outside of the nominal flow. That’s why it needs to be dealt by the bot to achieve its goal of delivering a rich user experience. This question serves as an exception.
Similarly, you can repeat this process and come up with several such flows and exceptions that can cause hindrance to bot for achieving its target.
The more exceptions you list and deal with, the better your chatbot will become.
c. Run Mocks and Get Feedback
Once you complete the two steps, you can run the mock to see if everything is working properly. Here, a mock is a simple review of a flowchart. You can have this mock review with multiple stakeholders and departments. You can collect and document feedback and prioritize their implementation based on your scope.
Moreover, you can analyze how the chatbot is working and identify loopholes in the use case if found any. It may also happen that you identify even more exceptions. Once you identify more loopholes and exceptions, the next step is to fix them and refine the flow.
Here, you continue this process until your chatbot is devoid of all the exceptions and issues.
2. Define Roles and Responsibilities
Enterprise chatbot development is a massive task. And this massive task needs a massive team. And for this big team to function efficiently, it is important that all of them have well-defined roles and responsibilities.
It is because, if they don’t, there will be chaos all around as no one will be aware of what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to coordinate and collaborate with each other.
To make your job easier, here is a table that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of different resources working on enterprise chatbot development.
3. Decide How to Get a Chatbot
There are several methods to go about your enterprise chatbot development. Each method comes with its pros and cons. You can choose any of the method as per your business requirement, resource availability, and budget. Let’s have a look at all these methods one by one.
a. Build It In-house
First way to get an enterprise chatbot is to build it in house. Most of the enterprises choose this option as it allows them to build the chatbot the way they want and that too independently. Here, an enterprise can have an entire dedicated team who looks after developing a chatbot from scratch. They can use the custom code from scratch to get started.
However, it does come with its caveat. Choosing to build an enterprise chatbot in-house means you have to invest a lot of time and money in hiring resources. In addition, the time taken to fully develop a chatbot from scratch is too long.
On top of that, there is always a risk of things going south since it would be your first time developing an enterprise chatbot.
This method is a right choice for your enterprise if you see chatbot as a long term investment. In such a case, you can set up a separate team that will be responsible for smooth operation of your enterprise chatbot.
b. Use an Open-source Framework
If you don’t wish to opt for the first method of building an enterprise from scratch, you can go for an open-source framework.
A chatbot framework is basically a solution that is built for developing chatbots. This framework offers a set of various tools that help developers to create faster and better chatbots.
It also significantly reduces the amount of manual work (around 15-20%) that you would otherwise require to develop an enterprise chatbot solution.
An open-source framework consists of a bot builder SDK, bot directory, bot connectors, and developer portal. There is also a console that helps you to test the chatbot once it is developed.
A chatbot framework is a solution specifically created for developing bots and defining their behavior. It decreases the amount of manual work that is normally involved in building a chatbot.
Some of the top open-source frameworks you can use are:
One must take care while choosing an open-source framework. It is because not all frameworks are perfect. Some come with certain limitations. If you build a bot using such a framework, your chatbot will also get those limitations inherited from the framework.
Also, some frameworks may demand extra payment if you wish to add some new features that the framework doesn’t offer.
Keeping these cons aside, this option can be perfect for an enterprise who needs a launching pad to get started.
Apart from that, a team would be required to manage customization in a open-source solution and to deploy/maintain the solution on server.
c. Leverage a Ready-made Chatbot Platform
This option is ideal for those enterprises who don't want to wait for the long duration required for building a chatbot from scratch. Here, you can simply choose a ready-made platform and build a chatbot as per your business requirements.
Most of these ready-made chatbot platforms are no-code and have an easy to use interface, making it easier for even a non-technical person to build bots.
They also offer integrations where you can integrate your favorite apps to the chatbot via native integrations, custom integrations, or APIs.
Moreover, if you feel that your requirements are so complex that a bot builder can’t accommodate, you can always ask for help from their experts. They usually have a team of experts adept in fulfilling such needs.
Some of the major ready-made chatbot platforms that you can consider are:
d. Choose a Solution Provider
If you want to completely outsource the enterprise chatbot development to some other company, you can choose this method. Here, you have to choose an enterprise chatbot development service provider and give them your chatbot requirements.
The major advantage of choosing this method is that you get to leverage the expertise of teams of enterprise AI chatbot development service providers that have been building chatbots for years.
This significantly increases the chances of your chatbot being a success.
Some of the major chatbot solution providers are:
4. Ensure Top-notch Security for Your Chatbots
Greater the number of users, the greater the risk. This is true for the case of enterprise chatbots. Here, the security is of utmost importance as the bots would be interacting with thousands of users. In a worst case scenario, some might want to sneek in and leak sensitive information or cause some other harm that tarnishses the reputation of the enterprise. To ensure this doesn’t happen, you must ensure top-notch chatbot security. For this you can take the following steps.
a. Regularly Conduct VAPT Tests
Vulnerability testing, which is also known as vulnerability assessment, is a process of evaluating security risks in your chatbot to reduce the possibility of threats. The main objective of these tests is to reduce the possibility of hackers getting unauthorized access to systems.
You must conduct these tests regularly to maintain top-grade security.
b. Encryption at Rest and Motion
In chatbots, there is always a possibility of data in transit getting tampered with or spoofed by cybercriminals and hackers. To avoid this huge security concern, you must go for end-to-end encryption.
Here, you can use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which is a standard security technology that helps you to establish an encrypted link between a web server and a client.
By ensuring encryption at rest and motion, you can prevent any third person other than the receiver and the sender to peep into the messages. For more robust encryption, you can consider business VPNs that can encrypt the entire internet traffic and messages.
c. SOC2 Certification
You can get SOC2 certification to ensure chatbot security. SOC2 is developed by the American Institute of CPAs that defines criteria for customer data management. It is based on five trust service principles which are:
d. ISO 27001 Certification
Apart from SOC2, you can also look for ISO 27001 certification. It is a leading international standard focusing on information security. It is published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
ISO framework is a combination of processes and policies for organizations to use. It helps enterprises to protect information in a cost-effective way via Information Security Management System (ISMS).
e. Regularly Backup and Store Data
When dealing with enterprise chatbots, you must prepare for the worst. And having regular backup data is one recommended practice to follow. Here, you can take backup of all the data so that in case of a disaster, you don’t lose out on any data. And you always have a chance to restore all the data.
5. Plan Phase Wise
Enterprise chatbot development is like a marathon. It takes a long time to get completed. Obviously, the time frame here differs depending on the chatbot development method that you have chosen. But generally speaking the time frame is quite longer.
One way to reduce this massive time frame is to plan your enterprise chatbot development phase wise. You can define several phases in which the entire development would be completed.
Planning your enterprise chatbot development phase wise can have below benefits.
a. Avoid Long Deliveries
When you plan the entire development phase wise, you are significantly reducing the long deliveries. To do this, you can implement an agile methodology of development. Here, you can expect delivery every two weeks instead of waiting for an entire year.
Let’s take an example to understand it better.
Suppose, an enterprise chatbot development takes a time of 6 months. This is surely a long time and the enterprise would love to get results sooner than that. So, they broke down the entire process into different phases. Now, there are four phases. Each phase gets completed within 1.5 months. With this, the chatbot gets functional in 1.5 months instead of 6 months. Thus, phase wise approach leads to faster deliveries.
b. Faster Relief to Business Challenges
It is obvious that if you are investing in an enterprise chatbot, you are looking for a solution to a business challenge. And if it takes as much as 6 months to get over that business challenge, then it is not worth it.
With a phase wise approach, you can overcome your business challenge in a shorter duration. It is because you can have different phases in such a way that each of them solves a particular challenge or a problem the moment it gets implemented.
So, you can plan phases keeping the severity of the challenge in mind. Your first phase can address the most severe challenge that needs urgent resolution. Similarly, you can go about planning the rest of the phases.
c. Evaluate Success From Phases and Prioritize Next Phases Accordingly
One major advantage of planning chatbot development in a phase wise manner is that you can use the power of retrospection.
Whenever a phase gets executed, you can evaluate how things went down. You get to know which things went well, which could be improved, and which went badly.
With this retrospective insight, you can ensure that the next phase is executed in a comparatively better way. Thus, by the time you reach the last phase, you have so many insights that the chances of the last phase being a success increases rapidly.
6. Ensure Scalability
Scalability is a must have feature for an enterprise chatbot. It is because an enterprise chatbot has to encounter thousands of users at a time. Also, enterprises grow fast. So, the chatbot might have to encounter tens of thousands of users in the near future. This is why scalability is a must for any enterprise chatbot.
When we talk about scalability there are several other factors that you must consider. Let’s discuss them one by one.
a. 24x7 Uptime With 99.9% Availability
As discussed earlier, enterprise chatbots have to accommodate users in the tens of thousands on a daily basis. With such a huge number, it becomes challenging to maintain 99.9% uptime and that too for 24x7. To overcome this challenge, you can:
Use ‘Highly Available’ servers to make your systems always available
Continuously monitor cloud server using tools like New Relic
Use auto-scale servers
Keep proper data backup/restoration policy
Keep as much isolation as possible between multiple services, so it won't affect others
b. Define Auto-scale Measures
In an enterprise chatbots, the number of users can just explode in no time. This is why it must have the capability to manage a sudden spike in the number of users. This usually happens for use cases like ticket booking.
When tickets become available for a highly anticipated music concert or a sports match, users swarm in to buy it. In such a scenario, your bot can shut down in seconds.
To avoid this from happening, you can define auto-scale measures. These measures ensure that the chatbot scales automatically as the number of users increases.
c. Evaluate Third-party Scalability
If your chatbot is operating along with a third-party system, you must ensure that both your bot and the third-party system are scalable. If any of them is not scalable, your chatbot is bound to fail.
Let’s take an example to understand this better.
Suppose, you have developed an enterprise chatbot that works with the train booking system. Here, the train booking system which is a third-party entity is a highly scalable system that can withstand thousands of users at a time.
Now, if your chatbot doesn’t have the same scalability to accommodate thousands of users at a time, it will shut down. Thus, it is important to evaluate third-party scalability before building an enterprise chatbot system.
d. Define Disaster Recovery Measures
It is always better to be safe than sorry. This is also true for your enterprise chatbot development. To ensure safety, you can define proper disaster measures like:
i. Adopt Multi-cloud Strategy
You can adopt a multi-cloud strategy by having more than one cloud partner. This is a widely adopted strategy by many enterprises due to its several advantages. With this, you enjoy benefits like:
ii. Improved Risk Management
You can reduce the risk of infrastructure failure by having more than one cloud provider. This gives you the opportunity to transfer data to a different servers quickly in case of an emergency.
iii. Vendor Lock-in Prevention
With a multi-cloud strategy, you can negotiate terms, advantages, and drawbacks of several service providers before you decide to transfer. Here, you can review agreements to eliminate the problem of vendor lock-in.
7. Ease of Use
Chatbot for enterprise must be easy to use. If they are not, your enterprise can face a lot of challenges. An easy to use chatbot for enterprise ensures that there is:
a. Easy Handoff to Different Departments
In an enterprise, there are multiple departments that work independently. More often than not, these departments have no idea what the other departments are doing. In such a scenario if an enterprise wants one of its departments to replicate the success of chatbot that its other departments saw, then it becomes a difficult task. That’s why a chatbot for enterprise must be easy to use. This easy to use factor ensures smooth handoff to different departments within the enterprise.
b. Less Engineering Dependency
Big enterprises keep having minor and major changes that need to be reflected in the chatbot as well. If a chatbot is hard coded, they would need the help of the engineering team to make even the smallest of the changes. Here, a no code or low code framework works wonders for them. It allows them to make these changes with less engineering dependency.
Enterprise chatbot development is a tough task. It is a journey where you will face countless challenges and hurdles. By following our best enterprise chatbot development practices, you can bypass several roadblocks and get a robust chatbot that you always wanted for your enterprise.
WotNot can help you in making this journey short, sweet, and memorable. It has a team of experts who is experienced in delivering top-notch enterprise chatbots in the past. We follow all the practices that have been mentioned here. And these practices are the reason why WotNot stands as a successful enterprise chatbot development service provider. So, what are you waiting for? Get started building your enterprise chatbot with WotNot now.
Content Editor at WotNot. He likes technology, chatbots, comedy, philosophy, and sports. He often cracks hilarious jokes and lightens everyone's mood in the team.