A chatbot’s role has evolved from a simple tool that facilitates conversation between the customer and the business. Nowadays, they solve customer queries, identify their sentiments, and even offer valuable insights into their behavior and needs. In other words, chatbots are a company's first line of customer service, which is a time consuming responsibility.
With the increasing demand for chatbots, the same goes for you if you are a chatbot developer. As a result, you have little to lose and a lot to gain by leveraging chatbots in your skill set.
For companies that lack the technical know-how, and have a tighter budget in terms of chatbot pricing, the no-code bot builders that are easily available are likely the best option. Others who want a more custom solution will tend to lean toward chatbot development from scratch.
Let’s look further into what is involved in the process of creating a chatbot.
What Goes Into Creating a Chatbot?
Creating a chatbot that delivers positive results for a business—any business—is no small feat.
The creation of even the most basic chatbot will require a deep understanding of how human conversations work (of course!) and some insane programming skills. We will delve deeper into the skills required to be a chatbot developer momentarily.
For now, understand that the process of developing a chatbot from scratch is not going to be an easy one. It takes weeks, if not more, to strategize, design, and create a chatbot that hits the mark. And to do so within a predefined budget and timeframe to boot!
But worry not, if you have the right skill set for the job, the entire process will not only be rewarding but maybe even fun. That said, let us understand the most essential skills that every chatbot developer should have.
Top Skills for a Chatbot Developer
Chatbots have evolved over the years and have innovated conversations between customers and companies significantly. The skills required by chatbot developers are not all that different from those required by programmers.
A study by AIMultiple suggests that 65% of chatbot companies and customers believe talent shortage to be the primary challenge in the chatbot industry. Meaning, there are a lot of untapped opportunities for chatbot developers currently.
Now, without further ado, let us dive deeper into the skills you need to possess.
Expertise in Chatbot Frameworks
The first and foremost quality that every chatbot developer should have is expertise in chatbot frameworks. When you are into chatbot development, you will inevitably build chatbots from scratch. To do so, you need to be proficient in frameworks such as IBM Watson, APi.ai, Microsoft Azure Bot Service, and more.
While many businesses today turn to chatbot platforms for creating chatbots, you are going to need a working knowledge of these frameworks when you are developing custom chatbots. You should also have the ability to compare and choose the right framework for a specific chatbot.
Additionally, it is highly recommended that you get enough practice on open-source chatbot frameworks such as Wit.ai and Rasa, since practice is the only way to improve your skills. Remember, if you are applying to small companies, you will need to choose a paid chatbot framework, as opposed to the open source ones. The latter requires you to have expertise in the Natural Language Processing (NLP) domain as well.
Proficiency in Programming Languages
This one is a no-brainer for experienced developers.
Along with the chatbot frameworks, developers should be proficient in working with several programming languages. If you have worked with chatbot frameworks to a large extent, chances are that you already have this part covered.
After all, these frameworks are based on specific programming languages. The common ones that you should add (or refresh) to your repertoire are Java, Python, PHP, and Ruby. Having these skills up your sleeve will help you customize your chatbot in ways that are best suited for your business.
So if you lack knowledge of these programming languages, or are out of practice, it’s time to start brushing up. Don’t hesitate to start learning some programming languages with the help of online courses and tutorials.
Knowledge of Emerging Technologies
Take a moment to remember what chatbots were like 10 years ago compared to now. The chatbots that you come across today definitely do not look like the basic chat boxes that we used to interact with just a few years ago, do they?
Chatbots today have evolved to incorporate some pretty awesome features.
Considering the transformative nature of chatbots, developers need to be up to date with the latest technologies and developments. To make an effective chatbot that can anticipate the possible conversational flow and seamlessly answer queries, you are going to need a deep knowledge of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and NLP.
Without the AI and NLP technologies, your chatbot won’t be able to tell the difference between a greeting and a customer query.
Apart from these technologies, Machine Learning also plays a pivotal role in defining the conversational flow and design of chatbots. If you do not have knowledge of these technologies and you are seeking out a chatbot development role, taking relevant courses (tagged above) might be a good idea before proceeding further.
If you ask any major company about the skills they would like their chatbot developers to have, communication is probably going to be top of the list.
Well, what are chatbots if not another communication channel between companies and customers?
If the people developing the chatbots do not have the basic know-how of writing a human conversation, how will they design a chatbot that can replicate one?
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying you should delve deep into conversations like a conversation designer would, but you still need a basic understanding of how natural language should flow when you are working in chatbot development.
Experience Integrating Chatbots on Different Platforms
If you want to build chatbots for a living, you will inevitably need to have some experience in working with omnichannel chatbots. Simply knowing how to add a chatbot to a website just won’t cut it anymore.
In this day and age, businesses want to maintain consistent customer service quality across platforms. Be it WhatsApp, Facebook, or Skype, a chatbot developer should know how to integrate the chatbot.
After all, more than 55% of consumers prefer to get in touch with businesses through messaging apps.
Ability to Collaborate With Multiple Teams
Based on what you already know about chatbots, do you think all the elements are created simply by a chatbot developer?
The answer is a resounding no.
Many resources are utilized in the process of building a chatbot. The effectiveness of your chatbot, for instance, will heavily depend on its responses to customer queries, so you will need to develop good dialogues written by an adept conversation designer.
While as a chatbot builder, you will need to understand the basic conversational flow, conversation designers will help you create more complex and advanced flows.
What’s more, you will need additional resources that focus on the analytics and deployment of the chatbot.
With all these aspects in mind, it is obvious that chatbot developers need to have the ability to collaborate with multiple types of resources. All the teams involved must be on the same page and communicate effectively to develop exceptional chatbots.
Could You Become a Chatbot Developer?
Being an excellent chatbot developer requires you to level up your knowledge of frameworks, programming languages, and communication skills. Along with these skills, having experience in creating and implementing cross-platform chatbots will only strengthen your profile.
And that’s it! If you are confident that you possess these skills and qualities, then you are well on your way to becoming a stellar chatbot developer. Even if you feel that you lack some of the qualities that we have mentioned here, it is never too late to hone these skills and improve your chances. After all, the demand for chatbot developers is only going to grow in the foreseeable future.