The Complete Guide to Level Up Your Slack with Bots

Have you ever felt overwhelmed trying to keep up with all the conversations and tasks on Slack? Do you wish you could automate certain repetitive jobs? Well my friend, that‘s exactly what bots are for!

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about Slack bots:

  • What they are and how they work
  • Most popular use cases
  • The customization process
  • Premade integrations
  • Troubleshooting tips

Soon you‘ll be leveraging bots to eliminate busywork and unlock your team‘s productivity superpowers!

What Exactly Are Slack Bots?

A Slack bot is a type of software application that performs automated tasks like a virtual assistant. Bots appear as user accounts on your Slack workspace and communicate through messages.

Slack bots can:

  • Respond to keywords and phrases
  • Complete repetitive administrative tasks
  • Provide useful information
  • Integrate external applications
  • Automate workflows

Or in other words…do the tedious tasks humans don‘t want to!

Some examples are:

  • A bot that tells users the weather forecast when asked
  • A bot that wished happy birthday to team members
  • A bot that schedules meetings via polling

This frees up people to focus their energy on more meaningful work that requires human critical thinking and creativity.

Why Your Team Needs to Adopt Slack Bots

1. Eliminate Repetitive Work

The top use case for Slack bots is minimizing repetitive administrative tasks. This is work that bogs employees down and saps creative energy. By automating things like taking meeting notes, filing expenses, reporting data, and answering common questions, bots let humans channel their talents where they create the most value.

Based on recent surveys, employees spend over 60% of their time on routine tasks with little business value. Slack bots are the solution to changing this statistic and enabling people to focus on their best work.

2. Lower Organizational Costs

According to estimates from Deloitte, between $5-7 trillion is spent globally by businesses to cover the coordination and communication costs from manual status meetings and redundant information exchanges.

But bots can directly reduce these excessive overhead costs that eat into company profits. Bots slash the time wasted coordinating schedules, tracking work, and sharing data. Plus, bots minimize expensive miscommunications that result from all-hands meetings.

3. Empower Better Decision Making

Another prime use case for Slack bots is data aggregation and analysis. By effortlessly compiling data from multiple sources then turning it into actionable reports, bots give teams enhanced decision making superpowers.

Rather than waiting for monthly status calls, you can get real-time data visualized on Key Performance Indicators. Spot trends instantly. And dynamically adjust strategies based on where your numbers stand daily rather than quarterly.

4. Strengthen Customer Relationships

Bots are also invaluable when it comes to improving customer experience. Companies pay a high price for ignoring their customers, with 89% of consumers switching brands due to poor service.

Luckily, bots can take over many basic support tasks to:

  • Instantly answer common questions
  • Qualify leads with interactive chat
  • Route issues to the right rep

This prevents problems from slipping through the cracks so customers feel more valued.

5. Keep Your Team Aligned

Finally, bots promote transparency and cohesion across organizations. They distribute important announcements about company news, projects status changes, events, and more.

This amplifies engagement as everyone feels involved and united around shared progress and priorities. Ultimately bots help build a thriving culture.

Now that you‘ve seen the incredible value bots offer, let‘s explore your options…

Categorizing the Main Types of Slack Bots

Slack bots can be grouped into three primary categories:

Bot TypeDescription
Homegrown BotsCreated fully custom for your workspace by an in-house developer using the Slack API
Third-Party App IntegrationsPremade bots from the Slack App Directory that provide specialized functions
SlackbotThe basic built-in bot that comes with Slack workspaces by default

The type of bot best suited depends on your use case and technical requirements.

If you want a tailored solution for complex workflows, a custom "homegrown" bot is the way to go. But they require coding expertise.

Premade third-party bots offer convenience at low cost, but limit customizability.

And Slackbot is the easiest to configure although functionality is restricted mostly to automated messages.

Now let‘s see how to setup each bot type on your workspace…

Custom Bot Setup

Building a custom bot from the ground up takes some technical prowess but allows unlimited flexibility. Homegrown bots can integrate deeply with your company‘s other platforms and databases too.

The process involves:

1. Designing the bot‘s responsibilities

First decide exactly what tasks you want to automate based on your team‘s needs. Common options are data aggregation, meeting scheduling, and ticket resolution.

2. Developing the bot logic

Next a developer codes up the bot using the Slack API and hosts it on a server. This includes defining keywords that trigger actions and dictating how information flows.

3. Configuring API permissions

Then proper API authorizations need to be granted so the bot can access resources and post messages.

4. Adding the bot to Slack

Finally, invite your new bot user account to the appropriate channels and watch it get to work!

If you need help with any technical steps, consult Slack‘s Build A Bot Guide.

While custom bots require upfront effort, they deliver 10x value over time by perfectly matching your use case.

Integrate Popular Third-Party Bots

If recruiting a developer isn‘t feasible, don‘t sweat! You can still augment your Slack with the power of bots through easy third-party integrations.

Slack maintains an App Directory with over 1500 bots offering prepackaged functionality. Browse categories like:

  • Productivity (task automation, calendars)
  • Development (GitHub, code tools)
  • HR & Culture (diversity reporting, engagement analytics)
  • Support & Sales (live chat, lead gen)

Or just search for a specific bot by name.

For example, here are some great options:

MeetingBot – Effortlessly schedule meetings by letting participants vote on the best time/date combos suggested automatically. Eliminates the endless back-and-forth over DMs negotiating availabilities! – Pulls data from Google Analytics, Salesforce, and other BI tools into Slack so teams can monitor real-time metrics through data visualizations and dashboards. No more waiting until month-end to view reports!

Stella – Acts as a receptionist and trainer by using conversational AI to answer routine customer queries. Escalates complex issues to right rep. She never takes a lunch break!

Polly – Creates polls and surveys to collect quick feedback from colleagues. Great for deciding on meeting topics, early product feedback, launch readiness and more.

To install a third-party bot, just click "Add to Slack" and grant permission to access your account data. Most popular bots are free or offer trial versions.

Configure the Built-In Slackbot

Don‘t overlook the OG bot that comes included with all Slack workspaces – the trusty Slackbot!

While less advanced than custom scripts or third-party tools, Slackbot can still automate a handful of tasks natively:

  • Set reminders for your projects and meetings
  • Look up files, people and data on demand
  • Post inspirational quotes to kickoff the week

Let‘s walk through customizing Slackbot responses…

1. Click on your profile > Administration > Configure Apps

From your workspace, navigate to the configuration dashboard:

Admin Dashboard

2. Select "Customize Slack" then choose the Slackbot tab

On the next page scroll down to find the Slackbot integrations section:

Slackbot Section

3. Click "Add New Response" and fill out the details

Give your trigger phrase and desired automated response:

Add Response

4. Click save then head to your channel to test it out!

Confirm Slackbot kicks into action when users send the trigger message:

Slackbot Working

While basic, customizing Slackbot responses enables some helpful automations without installing anything.

Troubleshooting Guide

But what if your bots stop working suddenly? Before panicking, follow this checklist:

Bot isn‘t responding at all

  • Try reinstalling the bot or revoking/granting permissions
  • Confirm bot is still active and hosted app did not go offline
  • Check for platform updates or changes that affect functionality

Bot behaves erratically

  • Review triggers and responses for typos
  • Ensure triggers aren‘t too generic to avoid false activations
  • Consider adding filters to better isolate intent

Bot messages unavailable channels

  • Double check channel authorizations and access levels
  • Reconfigure integrations to apply to all channels

Bot posts too frequently

  • Adjust scripts to include delay timers and frequency caps
  • Disable non-critical automations sending excessive notifications

Bot lacks critical integrations

  • File enhancement requests with the vendor if using third-party apps
  • For homegrown bots, add scope with internal developer resources

Isolating specifics around when and how bots misbehave helps resolve problems quicker!

Supercharge Your Team with Bots

Like any transformative technology, it takes some upfront effort to implement Slack bots. But the long-term productivity benefits are immense.

Bots eliminate the tedious tasks bogging down human workers. They empower people with data and tools integrated directly into the collaboration hub of Slack conversations.

Now that you know the landscape of options – from custom builds to simple Slackbot automations – it‘s time to start your bot journey!

Within a month, you won‘t know how your team survived this long without virtual assistants!

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