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With more than a billion people using Facebook Messenger and 42 million active Facebook pages, brands are looking for new ways to reach their audience.

I’ve been working as a chatbot consultant since 2016. I started off by helping small businesses, and I’ve now moved onto working with brands. Despite the fear of “hype” in the industry, the demand for these services is here and will continue to grow.

We are making progress as a community. Investment is coming in, and when a chatbot is good, the engagement rates can’t be ignored. The guys over at Octane AI bots are seeing click rates of 40 to 70 percent and engagement rates (clicks or replies) of 50 to 90 percent, meaning people are getting it right and the results are showing.

Brands are looking to reach their audience on Facebook because they are already investing a lot of time and effort managing their community. They’ve built up their audience and now they battle the “pay to play” approach to get their snippet of content into the News Feed.

I believe that bots present the next best channel to email, a direct-to-customer communication channel with a standardized UI that puts the focus back on the simplicity of providing good content and an intuitive experience.

The reason I am investing time into the chatbot space is because we are at the beginnings of what is and what it will mean to everyone in the future. There is no best practice yet, no Fundamentals of Chatbot Design or Chatbots for Dummies, because everyone is figuring out what the technology can actually do and how it can work in a sustainable way, which is pretty exciting.

At this moment in time, I believe most businesses or anyone who manages an audience are still on the fence about chatbots and how they can add value.

Below are the three key lessons I’ve learned in communicating that chatbots can add value.

1. Sell digital assistants, not chatbots

Which is easier for a business to understand immediately?

A digital assistant can learn skills and complete tasks to serve your customers; it will work for you 24/7 and never takes a sick day. What would you like it to do for you?

A chatbot is an instant messaging application that can act as a service to your customers; it is powered by rules and AI technology. Would you like one?

Framing your discussion around what a digital assistant can do for their customers is the single best way to start the conversation and move it forward. The concept of hiring an intern or low-level employee is not new, meaning you can discuss how a chatbot can add value by relating that to tasks interns are already carrying out, such as support or sharing content. Leave the technology-specific discussions to the end as it can cause confusion during the sales process.

2. Focus on metrics

Metrics create clarity around how a chatbot will drive value. Different businesses will have different metric priorities, but breaking down metrics into three categories — engagement, digital, and business — is the best way to understand client metrics in order to win a pitch and present a strong proposal.

Extracting metrics from conversations with clients is key; for example:

We want to reduce the time our community managers spend dealing with frequently asked questions so they can focus on closing deals with sponsors.

Identifying the metrics in what the client says they want to achieve will help you associate them with the features or skills the chatbot will need to have. This will clarify what the business case is for having one, making it easier for the client to realize they need one.

3. Build single-purpose experiences

Simple works, so keep it simple. Don’t try to build lots of features and use cases into the chatbot first time around. Like any product, building a chatbot requires careful planning, care and craftsmanship in order to provide an intuitive experience for users.

Base the single-purpose experience around the most important metric the client wants to drive value to, then prioritize building the features or skills required to do that. Present developing the experience further as a phased delivery of features or skills, like a roadmap. The route may change as the client learns more about what works.

Cameron Jenkinson is a product designer and cofounder at Dialect.ai.

This article appeared originally at Chatbots Magazine. Used with permission.

Above: VB Profiles Chatbots Landscape. (Disclosure: VB Profiles is a cooperative effort between VentureBeat and Spoke Intelligence.) This article is part of our bots landscape series. You can download a high resolution version of the landscape featuring 197 companies by clicking the image

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