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1. Planning your bot

Before you start building your bot on Chatlayer, there are a few strategic steps to consider. From defining the use cases to crafting a bot personality – here's how to get started.

Define the bot's goal

Before you can start building your bot, you need to know why you are building the bot. What is the goal here? If you want to automate an existing service, what is the current experience like, and how could a bot help you improve it?
For the sake of our ChooChoo tutorial, our goal could be something like: a bot to automate a train booking service so that customers get a similar experience as if they were speaking to an agent, without overwhelming the customer care service.
Make sure to look at your business and marketing goals: if one of your goals is to increase customer satisfaction, you may want to add a bot to your customer support team and let it handle the most common FAQs, so your team has more time to focus on the complex cases.

Define the bot use cases

After figuring out the why of your bot, it’s time for the what. What is your bot going to do exactly? How will it help the user? We cannot stress how important it is to figure this out before you start building your bot, as you cannot build something that isn't defined yet.
Here are some good use case examples:
  • Book a table at a restaurant
  • Play a song
  • Find specific products
  • Recommend new products
  • Get directions
  • Book a flight
  • Show local promotions
  • Process returns
In the case of our ChooChoo tutorial, a use case could be: book a train ticket from a certain departure city to a certain destination city.

Understand your tech

Now that you know the why and the what of your bot, it’s important to understand the where: where will your bot live?
Will the bot be integrated with WhatsApp? Can customers engage with it via SMS, Facebook Messenger or on the company website? What are the restrictions of each channel? A bot that talks to your users via SMS won’t be able to use as many characters as a bot that only communicates via web. So make sure you understand your tech and its limitations.
Our platform allows you to easily connect your bot to multiple channels and all your back-end databases. That's how you provide your users with a truly delightful experience.

Know your user

In order to design an experience that feels personal, you need to make it personal. Who is this user that will engage with your bot?
Remember, there is no such thing as a universal user! It’s important to know what users want and how they are feeling during the conversation.
Some relevant questions on identifying your users:
  • What’s their backstory?
  • Their challenges?
  • Their motivations?
  • How familiar are they with your business and using bots in general?

Craft your bot personality

How can you make sure that your users connect with your bot and that the conversation is engaging and representative of real human interaction? By giving your bot a clear personality.
How is your bot going to speak and behave, taking into account your user group expectations? What’s the bot avatar like? Is it female, male, genderless, an animal? Human or abstract? All of these are questions that should be considered to make your bot as coherent as possible.
If you can, use your company branding as a starting point and build on it. You can read more about how to design your bot’s personality here.

Script the happy flow

Now that you have a clear picture of who’s communicating (your bot persona and your user ID) and what they’re talking about (your use cases), it’s time to write the dialogues.
A ‘happy flow’ is a dialogue where everything runs the way it’s supposed to run. The conversation is natural and smooth, and the user reaches their goal in as little steps as possible. Many conversation designers start with the happy flow because it’s the flow of least resistance.
Don't know where to start to draft your flows? Have two people sit back-to-back and improvise a conversation around a use case, with one person playing the user and the other playing the bot.
Example of a happy flow for a restaurant bot.
There are many tools that can be used to sketch your happy flow, the first one being the good old pen and paper. If you would like a tool that allows easy sharing with your team though, nice options are Miro or Figjam.

Script the edge cases

While Chatlayer's AI technology is very good, it is not yet capable of understanding every user utterance well enough in order to reply in a correct way. So the next step after writing the happy flows is to write out the most likely ways a user might go off track and how you’re going to deal with that.
In designing your edge cases, always make sure to strategically guide the user back to an existing flow so that the conversation keeps on running and feels as natural as possible.
What if a user asks your bot how it’s doing? What if they tell the bot they don’t like it? What if they want another suggestion? What happens if the user wants to book a table for two, but one person is allergic to gluten and the other one doesn’t eat fish?
Happy flow and edge cases imagined for a restaurant bot.
You can find frequently asked questions as prebuilt intents packs in our platform's NLP section. These intents are predefined and come with their own expressions, which means you can use them straight away!

Lesson recap

You know now that before building your bot, you should have in mind:
  • Why you want to build it
  • What it is going to do exactly
  • On which channels it will live
  • Who are your users
  • What should the bot personality be like
  • What happy flow you'd like to see
  • What edge cases need to be foreseen
Check our next tutorial to learn how to make this plan come to life on Chatlayer 👉🏻