Sunday, 18 December 2016

Three Questions to Ask/Answer about Building a Chatbot

Have you ever been to a website and had a textbox pop up on the screen, with a customer service representative asking if they can help you?  It may come as a surprise for the average internet user to find out that there is not, in fact, a real human being on the other side of the textbox, but someone in marketing is going to know that the textbox is probably a chatbot.  Conversational commerce (i.e. chatbots) are clearly hear to stay, and Facebook bots are the front runners.  The question is: should you build one of your own?

Here’s the thing.  If you don’t have a Facebook already, you really should.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t think the medical community should be on social media- your patients love social media.  And I mean love.  Facebook is personable and intimate.  A Facebook bot would be even more so. 

 The first suggestion is to check out the bots that other companies and businesses are currently using.  What you’re going to find are bots that provide options for their users, and simple services.  This is going to open up all of those traffic jams in your office and on your phone lines.  Most people don’t want to go to a website and then to an FAQ page for answers.  They don’t want to scroll through categories to find what they are looking for.

A bot, on the other hand, can get the ball rolling.  Not only could you use bots to schedule appointments, you could use them to answer any simple office questions, even providing links with directions and getting charts updated and prepped (“Please describe what is bothering you today, Mr. Johnson…”). 

There are three questions to ask yourself before deciding to build your own bot.

1)      What chat app are your patients using?
For medical offices, pretty much all demographics are going to be plugged into Facebook, so Facebook messenger seems like the most obvious candidate.     

2)      Do you have the resources to build a bot?
Building a bot is going to take an entire team.  Someone with a lot of expertise is going to have to put in a lot of time creating this thing.  Then there is going to have to be a whole team who is going to promote it, monitor it, maintain it, improve it…  This is a long-term project, but if you want your patients to think that you are the cusp of technology (you do, don’t you?), then providing a chatbot is an excellent way to do so.

3)      Do you have a clear goal in mind and a way to achieve it?
You need to know what you want your bot to be doing and how it needs to do it.

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