Building bots for Slack
There are only a few good reasons to build a bot. The fact that everyone has one is not one of them.
Published on June 23, 2016
This article is based on a talk that I gave as a part of our Pilot Tech Talks series. The recording is available below if you prefer video over text.There are only a few good reasons to build a bot. The fact that everyone has one is not one of them. Unless you’re a chatbot startup (in which case you may have other problems), the only two good reasons to consider building a bot are:- Acquiring new users 🌱; or- Improving the experience of existing users ✨.When we decided to build our bot for Slack we decided to focus on acquisition. Our hypothesis was that because Slack’s App Directory was only just announced, being one of the first apps there would help us attract potential customers. That bet paid off.But if I was building a Slack bot today, I’d probably focus on existing customers. The advantage of being an early-comer to the platform is mostly gone, and existing customers benefit more from having easy access to common platform features without leaving their Slack app.
Visualise what success looks likeNow that you understand the purpose of your bot, you need to decide how users are going to interact with it. The most important rule of thumb here is cognitive efficiency. What interactions that your users have with your product can be simplified with a conversational interface?A great example of minimising cognitive efficiency is Statsbot with its Google Analytics and Mixpanel integrations. Before Statsbot, when I wanted to discuss our most recent numbers with the growth team, I had to:1. Leave Slack2. Sign in to Google Analytics3. Find the right report.4. Take a screenshot.5. Go back to Slack and post it to the right channel.With Statsbot, this entire interaction is simplified to:1.
@statsbot sessions last week💥 Boom. Reducing steps required to perform an action by 75% is a great indicator that you’re on the right track with your bot.