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Author: Felix Joy |02/23/18

Getting Started with Designing Chatbot Conversations

Chatbot is the buzz word in town and is being used by various businesses in different areas like call centers, automated request approvals, inventory management, etc. I have been fortunate to work on multiple chatbot projects, and in this blog, I will explain how chatbot is different from other conventional digital channels and the things to know about designing a chatbot.

Before we go on to see the best practices for designing a chatbot, let’s understand how chatbot differs from other conversational channels like manual chat and IVRs which are being used across call centers.

Personalized communication

The power of the bot lies in providing personalized service to a user based on his/her context and need. Chatbots provide very specific and personalized communication to thousands of users interacting with it, simultaneously.

Contextualized communication

We do this every day when we talk to people around us, unintentionally. This type of communication helps in creating interactions and messages similar to those people experience while communicating with other people.

Conversational commerce

The last thing I would like to highlight is the emergence of conversational commerce. Conversational commerce gives a different experience to the customer where they can converse with a bot to shop things, rather than visiting a website and going through the whole process of searching items, adding them to the shopping cart, checking out and paying the bill.

Designing conversations

Conversations are designed in a manner that they should not only convey information to the end user but also be engaging enough. User engagement factor helps the end user take decisions easily and quickly without thinking too much about what and how to respond next.

The flow of conversation plays a crucial role in having a good user experience. Conversations should be designed in such a way that it gives a natural and enjoyable experience to the user. In order to maintain a proper flow of conversation, we should be able to think what the user is going to ask next and then design conversations that would trigger an appropriate reaction from the user.

While designing conversations, it is important to provide a free-flowing conversation to support all kinds of natural language variations, as humans expect chatbots to converse normally like a messaging application.

Dos for designing a conversational chatbot

Brevity

The main purpose of using a chatbot is to get the things done quickly and therefore every word in the conversation counts. Moreover, users should be able to use snappy languages that they use in their normal conversations. Chatbot conversations should be designed in such a way that it can interpret a variety of dialects used by the user.

Personality

One of the main things that needs to be considered while building a chatbot is its personality, which is important in having good user engagement. Also, a bot is the extension of a brand’s personality, so it should reflect and deliver its values and personality. One of the easy and simple ways is to name the chatbot in a way that it relates to its functionality. For example, U.S. immigration department has come up with a chatbot known as ‘Emma’ who can help people find the immigration information they need. Emma is named after Emma Lazarus, who wrote the poem on helping immigrants at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Humanity

Users like to talk to a human rather than a machine. Use of natural language and expressions in conversations helps users feel that they are talking to a human.

Clarity

Each message that a bot delivers should clearly give out the intended information to the user. In the bot’s response-message, make sure that the user is not overwhelmed with multiple messages and call to actions.

Don’ts for designing a conversational chatbot

Ambiguity

While designing, it’s important to avoid open ended questions or statements. The responses designed for a bot should be specific and should help the user avoid misinterpretations.

Rigidity

Every user may have a different way of conversing and hence the bot should not have a very specific flow of conversation. Make sure that the bot is designed in such a way that it can adapt and twist around conversations and react intelligently.

Complexity

People mainly use chatbot to perform a certain set of tasks in an easier, quicker and convenient manner; make sure that it takes less number of steps than the conventional method. If they add complexity, then it will probably become redundant.

Totality

Conversations should be designed in such a way that it should be able to fulfill the key business needs, rather than catch-up call, for all the queries that a user might ask

Finally, what should your bot look like?

Chatbot conversation should look like a conversation with a friend which can help the user achieve their intended goals. Next thing to keep in mind is the conversation flow; it is very important that it doesn’t confuse the user. It is important to use mind mapping before designing the conversation, which will help you in knowing the entire set of features along with its conversation flow. Moreover, chatbots give brands an opportunity to manage its relationship with its customers. While designing, make sure that the personality fits perfectly with the user and with the specific situation in which the user is interacting.

We hope this article was helpful in designing chatbot conversations. Let us know your views about designing a chatbot conversation at info@mindtree.com.

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