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3 ways to build a chatbot that customers won't hate.

We've all been there. We Google something, click on a link that we think will have what we're looking for, and are immediately welcomed with an invitation to accept all cookies. Ok, it sucks, but we click accept all and move on.

Then we get a pop-up window asking us to enter our email address for 15% off our first purchase. This is a bit more intrusive. I don't want to loose out on the savings, but I also don't know if you have what I ultimately need. And, if you don't, then I sure don't want to be added to your email list where I'll get countless emails that I don't want. So, I click "no thanks" to close that window, only to be greeted with a chatbot named "Julie" who asks me how I'm doing today. To which I want to say "I'm fine, but with all these interruptions, I've forgotten why I came to your site."

I don't know about you, but each time I'm interrupted, I get more frustrated with the experience and am more likely to leave the site and search for an easier place to find what I'm looking for.

With more and more of us going online (especially via a mobile device) to complete at least part of the buying journey, brands need to be even more empathetic to that experience.

Removing friction from the process

Ok, cookies, and our acceptance of them, are a part of most sites. They are important to how people manage their online privacy, so there's nothing we can do right now to improve that part of the process. Let's move on to that subscription pop-up.

Sure, it would be great to get a new subscriber for your business and give a 15% off reward to them, but it also doesn't need to be addressed the second someone comes to your site. When you meet someone for the first time in real-life do you immediately ask for their contact information? (I hope you say "no" to that question) We need to start up the conversation and then ask them for their phone number so we can continue the conversation after the event. The same is true with an online conversation. Let your website content be the initial conversation and then ask for their contact information. For example, you can add the pop-up when they add something to their cart. The buyer has progressed enough through the experience for it to feel much more natural to offer this deal.

Improving the chatbot experience

Just like when you meet with someone in real-life you'll want to have a conversation that goes back and forth. Your website content is your perspective, and your chatbot allows the other person a chance to talk too.

Here are 3 ways to improve the chatbot experience so it feels more natural and helpful to the conversation.

  1. Give the customer a moment to read your site first - They may be able to answer their own question without the interruption of the chatbot. Start with a 15-second break between when they first get to the page and when the chatbot pop-up appears. Monitor the average session duration to see how long people are staying on your site and adjust the pop-up trigger to fit within that average session duration.

  2. Balance technology and conversational tone - Often times chatbots are created solely by IT teams who are focused on how it works. By adding someone from marketing or another customer focused department, you can start to anticipate what the chatbot conversation will be like. What responses should we expect from open ended questions? If we ask yes/no questions, what will the next prompt need to be? With this conversation mapped out, the IT team can focus on the technology.

  3. Monitor what people enter and update the chatbot responses - If one customer has that question, the chances are high that someone else will ask it too. Be ahead of your customer's needs.


Chatbots are a helpful tool when you keep your customer in mind. If you would like a fresh perspective on your existing chatbot or are interested in creating one for your site, then let's schedule a meeting and discuss your goals.

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