Poncho is the worlds sassiest weather bot! A cat, named Poncho talks to you about a whole slew of things: weather-related and not.

Greg Leuch – Poncho’s Head of Product and R&D – is one of our beloved ELEVATE mentors and sat down with us on his recent Vienna-trip to share his insights about bot design, onboarding, growth hacking and the future. Got a cup of coffee ready? Sit back and enjoy Greg’s interview!

What is your most valuable tip or trick?

Be real & be respectful! You cannot build a product, regardless of its content or medium, without being honest and respectful to your end users. If you assume too much, send too many messages, disparage them, or you’re just annoying, your product will not work. Act natural like a casual friend will always do better than any other conversational messaging strategy.

Be real & be respectful!

 

What’s your favorite thing about chatbots?

I honestly enjoy that chatbots can be many different things depending on their use case. They can be available in a variety of formats, from voice skills to SMS notifications. Chatbots have the power to reach the user like any other person in their preferred messaging app.

What I enjoy even more is knowing that we’re still in the exploration phase of how conversational interfaces can impact everyday lives. Newer technologies like augmented reality and holograms combined with conversational practices can bring a richer, more engaging experience that far exceeds what has been capable in the past 20+ years of the Web. The exciting times are just around the corner and we have the ability to make the future right now.

 

What’s your all-time favorite growth hack you experienced at Poncho?

There are many great engagement tactics you can explore with read receipt events that can be used to target additional content. You’ll see Poncho use these from time to time. But really, the best growth hack is to make your chatbot relatable with content and characteristics that build a bond with the user.

The best growth hack is to make your chatbot relatable with content and characteristics that build a bond with the user.

 

What would your go-to career choice be if you weren’t working in the chatbot space?

Oh wow…what a tough question! I would likely be exploring other technologies to see how we can build playful yet useful engagement and tools for personal enrichment and utility.

 

According to you, what’s the most crucial thing for a chatbot to work?

The absolutely most critical component for any chatbot is the onboarding experience. It is the only way to get a user started. Any user that is unable to get onboarded will very likely never come back to chat. Your onboarding could fail because of language differences, wrong content, too many questions/friction, or may not be exciting, respectful, or real. Make a great onboarding experience and you’ll be rewarded with lots of further potential conversations with those users.

 

What’s your first advice to someone who tells you they want to build a chatbot?

My first advice to anyone building a conversation interface, whether bot, voice skills, or other conversation interaction is to not get overwhelmed with natural language (NLP), machine learning (ML) & artificial intelligence (AI). Many conversations can be handled through simple call & response dialog flows. You don’t even need a bot to start — just start messaging your friends and test yourself!

 

Can you describe the Chatbot scene in Vienna in one line?

The Vienna chatbot community is incredibly smart and supportive. Not only those in this space, but also for international colleagues like myself that have been warmly welcomed into the community. (You’re all amazing!)

 

What’s happening at Poncho in 2018?

I’m excited for our upcoming launch on Slack. Our team has spent a lot of time learning about what makes Poncho a great one-to-one messaging product and applying that into a multi-user workspace. We’re adding a lot of new exciting features to be more than just a weather bot. If you are interested, sign up to get notified!

We’ve also launched a Developer API for select partners for our weather content & data. Sign up as well if you’re interested.