Bot Pitfalls

15.12.2016 |

Episode #8 of the course Building your own Facebook Messenger bot by Carylyne Chan


Yesterday, we discussed the essential elements of analyzing the performance of your bot. To extend on that discussion, today we’ll cover some of the pitfalls that often beset bots.


Not giving enough visibility to your bot

When you launch a new way for users to reach you, you often have to educate them that they are able to contact you there. This is no different for bots. In fact, especially in the case of bots, there is no easy way to increase the discoverability of the bot, unlike apps that have the App or Play Store that can help promote them to relevant users.

Hence, it’s extremely important for you to think about where you can get more users to try your bot if you believe that it will be an important channel for you to automate some of your user interactions. For example, if it is a support channel, you should prominently display a message in transactional emails that tells users they can reach you on the bot. Another great way, mentioned as a launch tactic, is to put it on your website.


The less visibility that your bot has, the less likely you will be able to glean any real insights or value from building and launching the bot in the first place. To give it its best chance, be sure to keep this in mind.


No escalation process

Sometimes, the bot may be stumped by a question, and you need to ensure that it can escalate the questions it could not answer so that someone (a human) can answer. For example, if someone had a sales inquiry, your bot should funnel questions into the sales or CRM system you have set up.

An escalation process can be as simple as sending yourself an email when the bot is stumped, or if you want it to be more specific, you can collect the details when the user explicitly demands a reply.

Having this process in place will not only save your poor bot from the abuse of annoyed users, it will also help these users feel like they have some recourse from you. Most importantly, having an escalation process will actually help your users solve their problems.


Not staffing support for your bot

Related to the last point, a bot is a living channel that your users interact with, and so it is an important touch point for you, especially if you’re building a bot for your business or brand. Don’t leave users hanging by leaving your bot alone without anyone at least taking care of it once in a while—it’s like setting up a phone line and not having anyone on hand to pick up the phone.

If you intend for your bot to serve its strategic purpose well, you need to ensure that someone is there to pick up the slack whenever the bot cannot fulfill its job completely. Be sure to put some time into looking through a sample of the chats (20% is a good sample size to capture some odd cases you may overlook with fewer chats) to figure out if there were some scenarios where the bot dropped the ball. You can see these in your page’s messages. If you use a back-end CRM/support tool that integrates with Messenger, those can be useful for flagging issues too.

Other pitfalls in the development process include not properly scoping the features (leading to feature creep), only building a bot for fun and not intending to support it properly, not having edge cases or important integrations, and not building in any improvement loops for the bot.

These are the main issues, and as you can imagine, there are a host of other factors that may be unique to your bot. Persevere, and don’t give up on it just yet! Tomorrow, we’ll discover other platforms that your bot can exist on too, increasing its reach.


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