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How to Test Chatbots

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How to Test Chatbots

Chatbots have already become an integral part of the digital world. These AI assistants generate the mutual profit for both companies and their customers/prospects: first ones replace humans with chatbots and save money on salaries, insurance, etc.; second ones get replies to their questions immediately and save their precious time instead of waiting for the answer from a real person. A bot can simultaneously serve a large number of customers, processing orders and simple questions.

Essentially, to be truly effective and profitable, chatbots have to be QA tested well. Such a feature can be a good marketing ploy invented to attract IT-interested people, but it will turn to failure if your bot is not capable of correct clients’ requests processing.

Whereas AI chatbot is getting smarter lately, more businesses use these virtual assistants. At the same time, “smarter” involves difficult coding, errors, bugs and different kinds of hassle. Unless your goal is a mad Tay bot that writes things like “destroy the humanity”, for sure…

How to deal with the task? 

Stop Taking Your Chatbot as a Person

Lots of assumptions that chatbots are dumb appeared in 2016. The reason was that bots couldn’t pass the Turing test. Are you serious, people? Chatbots were created not for entertainment, but for achieving a specific programming purpose. Chatbots aren’t supposed to behave like real human beings, they intended to provide the accurate replies quickly and nothing else.

Apparently, it is good to construct your bot a bit humanized. For instance, it may put the heart sign in an answer if the user says something like “I love you”. Such things leave a positive impression and maximize the individual connection with potential or existing clients. All of that creates a common story for your customers and your company, which prevents them from switching to your competitors. Emotions dominate in business as well as in real life.

Use the Right Tools for Your Chatbot

First of all, we have to choose the right instruments that we are going to work with. Bots differ from typical software, that is why their QA and testing services obviously demand certain tools.

The main goal of a chatbot is to recognize the background of the dialogue and to resolve the user’s issue correctly. In this way, the appropriate tool has to investigate these components in great detail (especially when it comes to some control of routine) and report back with an understandable overview that contains numbers and valuable information.

Keyul, a creator of Bot Stash, suggests using three main automation testing tools. Interested?

The leader is Bot Flair because it is able to manage unexpected inputs (i.e. slang words, colloquial expressions, etc.), but there is no free plan, so you have to pay for it anyway. Bot Testing is another tool, which can be really helpful in case you are willing to check your bot’s performance on different channels. And it‘s totally free. The third one – Dimon – has different subscriptions including a free one, so it would be the golden middle between the previous two tools. Dimon offers standard functions as well as provides options to the premium components.

The entire testing process can be simplified by special tools if they are implemented by someone with skilled hands. But still, robots cannot be completely trusted to test robots. Sounds ironically, huh?

General Chatbot QA: a Bot Has to Do Its Bot Job

Let’s make our first step. You need to ensure what is a particular goal of bot creation. That is a straight logic of the virtual helper. Your chatbot isn’t supposed to reply with correct responses but to the incorrect requests, is it?

Let your bot process the expected inputs, and check the output. When your bot’s developers or you have encoded the responses to those inputs, it is easy to make corrections if there are any issues.

It is almost the same as when you proofread and edit the Facebook post when you are going to publish it. You should be confident that the chatbot is functioning properly on the prime interactions before you allow access to it for a bigger number of people. Remember that testing your bot on all the channels where it’s implemented is crucial in order to prevent any troubles with the compatibility of integration.

It will be quite an appropriate decision to engage a professional QA team in this phase. Involving QA testers to your project from the start point will make the whole analyzing much more efficient.

Pre-Launch: Beta Testing of Chatbot

The perfect way to check if your bot is up and running is to complete a beta test before the general launch. When you have finished with the fundamental QA and bot works properly, you need to give access to your chatbot to the wider audience. It’s good if there is a tight group of people, who will try to crack the botty and after that give you feedback about their experience.

In other words, a beta tester is supposed to scrutinize the bot with unexpected inputs. Basically, it consists of lingo, slang, vernacular, colloquial language, different English dialects. Furthermore, the tester should treat the bot like an amusement thing and try some totally irrelevant inputs, for example, joking or flirting.

Please note, that it is important to pay attention to every beta testing report because each person interacts with the chatbot in a special and original way. Sometimes results can be surprising and seem like non-fitting any patterns, but you should carefully analyze all of them and search for the right solutions on improving your botty taking into account the real users’ behavior.

Quick tip

In the beginning QA testing steps, it is beneficial to identify the common issues (for example, “No response”, “An invalid response”, “A response on the wrong topic” etc.). When defined them, you should inquire your beta testers as well as users to notify you using the proper tags. Thus, you obtain an ordered list of the common problems that you have to eliminate. Having such a classification, you will get the ability to set up priorities, fix errors and bugs quickly.

General ways to engage beta testers

It is possible that you don’t have anyone in mind who could be a beta tester of your upcoming chatbot. But it’s not a big deal! I am going to share a few ideas on how to find people for testing your bot. There are free options, by the way!

You might begin with crowdtesting websites, where you invite people to try out your product/app/bot/etc. TestMyApp subreddit (a free one, but there are fewer testers) and Beta Family community are the most well-known ones. Many innovation fans are willing to test your chatbot and provide you with a detailed review. The biggest disadvantage of crowdtesting is that you cannot be confident in the professional skills of people who make tests. You never know if their analytical abilities are abundant to dip into testing in the right way.

If we switch to a skill-oriented approach, then freelance platforms could be a decision here. Such platforms as Upwork or Freelancer are full of testers, where you are required to sign up and search for employees with appropriate skills. It is safe because these resources provide protection from frauds and ensure that experts do their work in time and with appropriate quality. Otherwise, you’ll be provided with compensation. Still, in general, freelancers tend to be less reliable and disciplined as full-time employees. Whether you have ever dealt with them, you must know it. Besides, they cannot perform such work regularly.

After all, if the quality means everything to you, pay attention to hiring an outsourcing QA team. Sure, it much expensive than hiring a freelancer. Nonetheless, you’ll get proper management, a team of professionals, and a stable workflow. And your costs will pay out for 100%: the QA specialists, taking into account all existing reviews, as soon as they appear, will consider the entire program, code, and algorithms. After that, you’ll be provided with certain mistakes log and recommendations for fixing all the issues. Also in some of the QA enterprises, there are developers in the state, so they will be ready to help you and eliminate all the issues for the extra cost.

Post-Launch: Real Users Reports on Your Chatbot

After improving your chatbot in line with beta testing results, launching time has come!

Forget about the fear of failure and provide your clients with the possibility to leave feedback about the AI assistant if they are not satisfied with their experience. No matter what exactly bothers the user – inappropriate answer or some problems with usability – they should have the ability to report it without leaving a chat. Gathering customers’ complaints/suggestions and sending them to QA professionals could be a nice option. Also thank your clients for their reports, because they take part in making your botty smarter.

When there is access to your chatbot for everybody, you should be prepared to receive a high number of unexpected inputs. It’s better for you to stay sharp and keep your bot upgraded all the time. It should become cleverer, more interactive, humanized and amusing with every update.

Conclusion

Take into account all the above and keep your clients happy with your virtual AI assistant. Feel free to contact me in the comments or on our social media, if you got any questions or suggestions. And don’t forget to share this content, if you find it helpful. Together we will make AI better and anticipate the desirable future!

Sandra Parker is Head Of Business Development at QArea. She helps enterprises to accelerate their businesses through custom software development and testing.

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Want to start a creative events business in 2021? Here’s how

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Want to start a creative events business in 2021? Here’s how

Though it might not seem like it, now is a great time for event planners. After a year of social distancing guidelines being enforced throughout the world, no one quite knows what to expect from the events industry as it begins to resurface. 

And that means that event planners can take advantage of this uncertainty and carve out fun new ideas and businesses, using this time to try out new things and see what sticks. 

So, what businesses will be right for you? That depends on what you’re interested in and how serious you’re willing to be. There are many creative event planning business ideas out there, and you can find your niche by thinking about what you want, what people want and what you can reasonably do. 

For example, if you are interested in cooking or baking, you could develop a food truck or catering business that serves meals in prepackaged containers. Or if you love photography, you could start up a photobooth that captures priceless party memories. 

A few other event industry business ideas that you could start up include: 

  • Live-stream service for weddings and parties
  • Camping excursion planner
  • Picnic planner and games coordinator
  • Outdoor scavenger hunt maker
  • Outdoor dance floor builder 

Each event industry business requires different skills and experience levels, from being outdoorsy to being able to build and take down equipment. With so many different skills needed, there is an event business out there for everyone. 

Want to start a creative events business in 2021? Here’s how

But once you’ve decided on your business idea, it’s time to get to work. The first steps to creating a successful events business are picking a name, developing your branding and registering your business with your local government. All of these are crucial to get your business legitimized and ready to operate. And to keep track of these logistics, we’ve included an event planning startup checklist that includes everything you’ll need to do.

From there, it’s time to get ready for an event. You can drum up business by networking online or attending trade shows to advertise your offerings. Make sure you showcase your value and present yourself as professional and ready to host your first event. And once your first date is booked, you can use this events checklist to keep track of day-of logistics and needs.  

At the end of the day, the key to launching a successful events business is the motivation to make it happen. This is a great time to explore your possibilities and get ready to make your way into this fun, exciting industry. 

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How to Train Your Managers (and Why it’s Important)

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How to Train Your Managers

Having a great manager (not just an okay one) is so important to a business’s success. You will find that your employees work a lot harder when they have a great manager, because they want to impress, they want to help, and they do not want the business to fail. For information on training mangers, a useful link is: https://www.efrontlearning.com/blog/2019/02/how-to-train-managers.html. This will provide you with an overview of what is involved. To get it wrong will impact on staff engagement, performance, and retention.

Educate Them on the Importance of Their Role

To educate managers, there are textbooks, online resources, seminars, and eLearning courses available. These can bring a manager up to speed with not only tried and tested methods of management but also with the very latest methods. Training methods that are digital and more relevant to today’s business world. New managers can learn from already experienced managers and how they best achieve their results for their respective companies. Equally, managers can learn through good and effective training, targeted to their needs and that of their company. The best managers increase the motivation and mood of their staff on a continual basis, which in turn, increases their company’s productivity.

Offer Training

Training such as new managers training can be provided in-house, and be even more effective and targeted through the use of external training agencies. It can be a very effective conducted by specialists in this area, who know not only what it is like to be a new manager, but the skills that can make for an effective manager in the long term. Much can be learned from the experiences that former managers have faced in a variety of different types of businesses. To not offer a manager training is to allow them to fail. To not provide them with the tools for success is to make their progression slower and less effective, for themselves and those that they are managing. Management training is not only about training others but how to train those responsible for the training.

Encourage Them to Practice, Reflect, Learn and Repeat

The best way for a manager to learn is to continue practising their skills, to think about the result the skills are having on the staff and the business itself. Continuing to repeat these skills, the rights skills, can only improve them until they become second nature. That is, not to practise until you get it right, but to the extent that you cannot get it wrong. Skills such as: communicating effectively with staff, planning the progression of staff, the ability to delegate the work in an effective manner. In addition, the manager will need to learn skills in problem-solving and motivation. There are tricks to be learned, to be known. An effective leadership course can teach managers these skills initially, so that then be refined through constant use and monitoring of their effectiveness. It is not enough to put into practise these skills once, they have to be carried out several times to check their effectiveness on different groups of staff, who are likely to respond in different ways and with different results.

Conclusion

So, with much to consider, it is in the first instance necessary to recruit flexible managers who are going to respond to training. Managers who are not too fixed in their ways of managing for other companies that they cannot respond effectively to a new training scheme. Then, they need to be aware of exactly what their new role encompasses. This should next lead to an effective training scheme that they are going to engage with, as their staff will ultimately engage with their management approach. During completion of the training scheme, it will be a matter of continual practice, but the results will be rewarding.

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What’s Amazon ASIN And How Do You Get One? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

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What’s Amazon ASIN And How Do You Get One? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Amazon is the world’s leading online marketplace. According to Statista, they have 213.4 million unique website visitors each month.

That’s a lot – accordingly, it’s no big surprise that every merchant wants to sell their products through Amazon.

If you also want to sell your products on Amazon, you need an Amazon ASIN.

But what is an ASIN?

ASIN means Amazon Standard Identification Number. It is an Amazon internal number that helps them keep track of your products.

Every product on Amazon has a unique Amazon Standard Identification Number.

In this article, you’ll learn everything about Amazon ASIN – what it is, why you need an ASIN and how to get one.

What Is Amazon ASIN?

ASIN stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number and it’s simply the product identifier used by Amazon. A product identifier is a scannable number like a UPC (barcode) to identify a product.

If you don’t know what’s a UPC, here’s an example of it:

What’s Amazon ASIN And How Do You Get One? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

ASIN is Amazon’s internal unique identifier to keep track of all the products sold on Amazon. With over 2,734,713 active sellers on Amazon, it would be impossible if every seller has their own unique identifier for their products.

There’s only one exception – if you want to sell books on Amazon, you don’t need to have an Amazon ASIN. That’s because every book has it’s own ISBN as an identifier. Amazon uses this ISBN to identify books, they don’t use their own ASIN.

I really don’t know exactly why, but I think it’s because Amazon started as an online bookseller in 1995.

When Do You Need An Amazon ASIN?

First of all, if you want to sell your products through Amazon, you need an Amazon ASIN. You need one unique ASIN for every product you sell on Amazon.

Second, if you sell the same product on two different marketplaces – for example, Amazon US and Amazon Germany, you need two different ASINs.

If this in case, you need two one ASIN for the US marketplace and another one for the german Amazon marketplace.

The next thing is that you need different ASINs if you sell variations of your product. If this in case, you will need a parent ASIN for your initial product and different child ASINs for all your variations.

For example, suppose you sell a T-shirt in different sizes. You need an ASIN for the first product – the T-shirt – and further children’s ASINs for all variations, e.g. for a blue, yellow and pink shirt.

  

When You Don’t Need An Amazon ASIN…

If you want to sell a product that’s already on the Amazon marketplace, you don’t need to register a new ASIN because every product that’s sold on Amazon already has one.

If this is the case, you only need to research the ASIN. If you don’t know how to find the ASIN of a product, read on, I will explain in the next chapter how to do this.

However, if you’re a new seller and want to sell a brand new product on Amazon, you’ve to register a new ASIN for that product.

What you need to know is that there’s a limit for new sellers on how many new ASINs they can create. If you want to create more ASINs in the near future, you need to sell more products and increase your sales on Amazon.

I highly recommend checking out this site to find out more about Amazon’s restrictions on the creation of new ASINs.

How To Search For A Product’s ASIN

Looking for a product’s ASIN on Amazon is super easy. All you have to do is to search for the product on Amazon.

Then, navigate to the product detail page and scroll to the end of the page.

You will find the ASIN of the product at the end of the listing with the product information.

But there’s another opportunity to get a product’s ASIN even faster. What you can also do is to take a look at the URL entry of your browser:

The ASIN is usually at the end of the URL of the product page. Just make sure that there’s no referral code and you’re good to go.

How To Get A New ASIN

If you’re starting as a private label seller, you will probably sell a product that nobody else sells on Amazon.

If this in case, you need to create a new Amazon ASIN so that Amazon can identify your product.

But you only need to do that if you sell a unique product under your own private label brand.

If the product you want to sell is already on Amazon, you don’t have to create a new ASIN.

Here’s how to create a new ASIN for your product on your own:

First of all, you need a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) for your product.

What is a GTIN?

Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) can be used by a company to uniquely identify all of its trade items. GS1 defines trade items as products or services that are priced, ordered or invoiced at any point in the supply chain.

Source: GS1

Where do you get a GTIN?

You can get it from the GS1. The GS1 is a worldwide organization which distributes GTINs, UPCs or ISBNs.

There are different packages and you should choose a package that isn’t too expensive but fully suits your needs.

There are a lot of online sellers that also sell GTINs. However, I highly recommend not to buy a GTIN from another seller than the GS1 since it will only make you problems in the future – trust me.

Once you have a GTIN for your product, it’s relatively easy to get an Amazon ASIN.

All you have to do is to head over to Amazon Seller Central and click on “Add a new product” and then on “Create a new product”.

Then, you’ve to upload your product’s GTIN and Amazon will automatically generate a new ASIN for your product.

Conclusion

It is necessary to have an ASIN to sell on Amazon. However, you only need to create a new ASIN if you want to sell a product on Amazon that does not exist yet.

Anyway, taking care of the ASIN is only an administrative task. Focus more on increasing your sales to succeed in the long run.

About the Author

Moritz Bauer has over 5 years of experience in eCommerce and Marketing. On his blog smartminded he writes about Amazon FBA.

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