Pardon My Bot: Major Chatbot Development Issues
Let's talk about the major chatbot issues and look at how to eliminate them.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
With its appearance, chatbot technology immediately gained popularity. They are the programs that are able to handle conversations with people. Firstly, chatbots were created for the purpose of entertainment, but then, they evolved into assistant-level software. Mobile and web applications like Skype, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, etc. widely use chatbots to cover multiple user needs. Google Assistant and Alexa from Amazon have proven that this technology is not only popular but also demanding and needs to be improved. Still, chatbots are very far from perfect and there are many issues to be faced during chatbot development. Today, we are talking about the major ones and how to eliminate them.
Problem #1 — Where Is This Chatbot at All?
You can use an application or software for a long time and not even guess that it supports chatbots. Whether it is because of poor marketing or simply because of an inconvenient user interface, people find it hard to discover a chatbot service. This fact makes the existence of chatbots seem useless; if you can’t find a software function you’re not likely to use it. For creators of chatbots, this is a frustrating fact. Even with pure intentions to make the user experience more friendly and simplify our lives with chatbots — they just can’t deliver their creations to people.
Solution: After you create a chatbot, let people know about it. Inform them about this great feature. Show them a guide on how to use it. Ping them on your update.
Problem #2 — Conversations With Chatbots Are Poor
Chatbots are not that good at keeping up a conversation. This doesn’t mean they are totally dumb. But let’s be honest, if we are talking about scripted chatbots, they are kind of dumb. The thing is, their pre-established number of answers and reactions is limited. Let’s take a booking bot for example. You surely get the basic questions answered and the most simple suggestions pushed, but if you go into detail, you most probably will need to make a research by yourself.
Solution: Create a chatbot service with built-in AI. These guys are able to learn from collected information from all interactions which gives them a way to improve over time. They are intelligent, hence they support more diverse conversations and can even make some jokes in the right context. Don’t forget about thorough chatbot testing before it faces the world.
Problem #3 — You Don’t Always Need a Chatbot
Following the problem number 2, there is one more to mention. Sometimes, you just want to talk to a real person instead of a robot. Depending on what type of help you need from a chatbot service, sometimes it just can’t cover all your needs. For example, you want to buy clothes online and you know exactly what you need. So you ask the chatbot to filter results according to your request, but if you’d like to know about the sizes specifically, you get lame answers, if any at all. There are numerous cases like this when you realize talking to a real person could solve any of your issues much faster.
Solution: There’s little you can do to make people use only chatbots. Once conversations with machines are sophisticated enough to cover all user needs, this problem will be diminished. Make your chatbot smart.
Problem #4 — Chatbots Are Not Worth the Pain
Chatbots are usually free. They are not good enough to pay for them but on the other hand, developers lack the motivation to improve them if there’s not much of a need. In real life, not much depends on chatbot technology. With thousands of them created since their appearance on messaging platforms, it seems like the same number of frameworks appeared too. Now all you need to create a chatbot is to download a software that has numerous templates and plugins for chatbot development. There are numerous guides and how-to's adding to that. It’s bad news for those who develop great chatbots that break the stereotype of them being dumb and try to monetize their product.
Solution: Don’t count on chatbot technology as the main monetizing source. It won’t bring you lots of money even if they are the most helpful, sophisticated, and better-that-person digital companions. Chatbots are usually an additional business solution to make your service even more pleasant to the user.
Problem #5 — Chatbots Overcomplicate Everything
You might disagree, but there is a chance you don’t need this chatbot at all. For example, you want to order a pizza online, and it can be done for 2 minutes right in the app by filling-in a form with 3 fields: your phone number, email, and address. Now, imagine this app has a chatbot that is supposed to make the task easier for you. So you are full of hope to order pizza even faster than you used to do before but it turns out this chatbot technology is not as intelligent as you expected, and it only can help you with the order in 10 steps. There are numerous similar cases when companies make chatbots because it’s a big trend but don’t invest much in the whole business, and it turns out everything works just fine even without them.
Solution: Consider all pros and cons before chatbot development. Define whether it really solves the problem you have or just adds to it. Remember that a chatbot has to be a handy tool, not a tricky rebus.
Problem #6 — Poor Chatbot Maintenance
So you decided that you really need that technology for your business because almost every business has it now. You hire an offshore dedicated team, and they create a chatbot. After you implement it, you see how people started using it, and you suppose everything is fine now. Then, you forget about your chatbot at all and focus on other business tasks. Some users start complaining that something doesn’t work but you just don’t have time to fix that. Moreover, you don’t want to invest in hiring a proper support team, so you just let it go. This leads to less and less people using the chatbot, hence its purpose is questionable.
Solution: If you decide to implement whatever technology to achieve some goal, make it the main focus — not only until it’s done right but also after the release. Establish continuous working support and maintenance for your solution. Don’t forget about regular updates and improvements.
Chatbots are not as bad as they are made out to be. They can be really useful and great entertainers. With natural language processing technologies’ tremendous improvements for the last two-three years, we can only expect chatbots to become our savvy everyday cronies.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.