Bots for Business, Conversational Marketing

Why Conversational Design Is Essential For Bot Building

Behind every bot, there is a human who has written their conversational script to be able to interact fluidly with users. The concept at work is called conversational design, and it is integral to building bots.

By Paige Twillmann
August 29, 2019

Contrary to popular belief about artificial intelligence (AI) taking jobs away from humans, the expanding, fast-paced chatbot industry has actually created more technical jobs. One of the most interesting to spring out of the AI Revolution is that of conversational analyst. These key people, who work together on conversational design teams, actually help bots participate in conversations with humans in ways that appear natural and are helpful to the real people on the other end.

The fact is that the ways in which companies interact with their customers have greatly evolved over time, from the snail mail and phone calls of the past to social media and messaging bots of today. Brands that want to stay ahead of their competition have embraced chatbots to help them talk to customers on a massive scale. And chatbots themselves are no exception to the ever-evolving marketplace, and they continue to develop over time as companies start to integrate them into more and more use cases, from marketing to sales to customer care.

talk chatbot intent
Understanding intent can reduce user frustration.

Companies such as LivePerson design and deploy AI-powered messaging solutions for these brands, using humans and chatbots in parallel to work out the kinks and bugs along the way to constantly improve the customer experience. Malik Jenkins, a conversational analyst on LivePerson’s conversational design team, says that “the power of bots is really in understanding customer intents, then resolving simple tasks successfully on their own or passing the relevant info along to human beings who can handle more complex issues.”

Malik has some recommendations for bot developers interested in using conversational design principles to create better bots:

1. Personalize your audience’s experiences

Assuming you are able to authenticate who your bot is speaking to, the bot should greet them by name. If that’s not possible, your bot can authenticate the customer with a few qualifying questions. When you do know your customer’s identity, you can also think about asking them in advance about why they may have reached out. For instance, a bot for an airline could say “Hi John, thanks for reaching out. I see you have a booking to New York City next week. Is that the booking you are contacting us about?”

Doing this makes your customer feel like they are involved in a tailored experience. Plus, it means they have no need to supply account details, saving them time and frustration, because your bot is able to get ahead of the situation.

2. Validate that your bots understand customer intents

Let’s say your bot doesn’t initially comprehend the question your customer is asking. One important conversational design principle is to have it ask follow-up questions to further validate questions or request information to move the conversation in the right direction.

For example, your bot could say, “I didn’t quite catch that, are you looking to check in or change an existing booking?” This lets the customer interact more conversationally, rather than having the bot repeat the original question again and again. Then, when your bot does understand, make sure to validate the customer’s intent with a remark like, “Got it, I can help you change your existing booking.”

3. Escalate to human agents, when necessary

There are a couple of important cases when your bot should escalate to a human agent. First, when the customer requests it, and second, when the bot doesn’t understand your customer two or more times. Doing so will provide a much-needed fallback that keeps your customer happy and gets their question to a place where it can be resolved to their satisfaction.

In summary

Many people are rather skeptical of chatbots, but more and more are starting to utilize chatbots in their respective, competitive fields, specifically in business. However, many business owners still do not know what chatbots are or where to start. With LivePerson, chatbots are designed to create a customizable experience that answers the customer’s questions with thorough responses while maintaining a flow of natural conversation. If necessary, human agents can be brought in to aid with any further inquiries that chatbots may not have been previously aware of or perhaps to fix any kinks or bugs. However, as chatbot design becomes more accessible, changes in the conversational design field will gradually make the customer experience more efficient and enjoyable.