How to Write a Successful Script for Your Bot
The writer/personality designer of a bot should be someone who understands the end user or customer and their UX. This can be but isn’t always a developer. As a developer, if you don’t write it yourself, who should? If you write it yourself, here’s some advice on how to best do that.
February 5, 2019
AI technology has advanced dramatically over the last few years. Bots are becoming more realistic, and users have grown to expect authentic and conversational experiences. This poses a unique challenge for those who create bots. Not only do you have to code the functions of your bot, but also you need to create a script for your bot, which is equally as important.
Three ways you can create a chatbot
When a great bot idea comes to mind, it’s hard not to just dive right in. This is where bot developers run into trouble. Without a well-thought-out plan and proper foresight, scripting your bot can get messy. Before you get started, it’s important to choose how you plan to build your bot.
1. Code everything from scratch
The benefit of coding everything yourself is that you have complete freedom to customize all of your bot’s features. You can utilize open sources, like Apache OpenNLP or Stanford CoreNLP, to help you along the way. However, you’ll need prior coding knowledge and experience working in languages like Python.
2. Utilize NLP platforms for intent and entity extraction
A good natural language processing (NLP) platform can alleviate the burden of machine learning problems. Platforms like Dialogflow, Wit.ai, and IBM Watson can be used for your natural-language understanding (NLU), while still maintaining a fair amount of customizability. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to create the code for your bot’s flow.
3. DIY platforms
Even those who understand coding sometimes only need a simple bot to get the job done. Instead of laboring over the code to get exactly what you want, you can use preexisting bot templates. DIY platforms allow you to drag and drop features into your chatbot. This process is quick and easy, and it removes the need to code, but customization is very limited.
Get the conversation flowing
Now that you’ve decided on a plan to construct your bot, it’s time to literally get to a drawing board. Pull out a pen and a large piece of paper, and start writing down the questions you want your bot to answer. You may not be able to write down every question a user might ask, but try to be thorough and to predict what might be asked of your bot.
Your draft can look something like this:
After you have your user questions written out, come up with the answers for your bot. This process may seem straightforward, but remember, you are essentially writing a script for a one-sided conversation that is created to anticipate your users’ needs.
It is important to grab your users’ attention, so they begin to explore the bot’s features. At this point, you can control the flow of the conversation. Aim to guide your users with replies, including surveys, that encourage the user to ask a question your bot is ready to answer. Having a well-defined conversation flow is paramount. Nothing is more frustrating to a user than the response, “I’m not sure what you mean.”
Creative and conversational UX
In addition to scripting your bot to interact with your user, you must consider user experience. Creating a bot that simply informs and collects data doesn’t always keep the users’ attention long enough to accomplish the bot’s goal. To help your users connect with your bot, here are a few guidelines for shaping your script.
Before a user even begins interacting with your bot, you need an intriguing, attention-grabbing message. The best way to craft your greeting message is to inform the reader of exactly what the bot is programmed to do, what it can help with, and what the user’s expectations should be.
Even though people know they are talking to a bot, they want to feel as if they are chatting with a human. Think of it like you are creating a movie script, but you only know the lines for one character. You want the bot’s performance to be believable and engaging. Use short, casual responses.
To make your bot seem more human, consider the amount of time between a user’s question and the bot’s response. Having your bot pause before replying to a user gives the illusion that a human is typing the response.
As the bot interacts with the user, make gentle suggestions that will guide the person to task completion. Your bot is designed to help you and your business accomplish a goal. A simple call to action at the right time will help your bot work harder for you.
Writing a script isn’t for everyone. It’s time consuming, and you have to think of clever ways to make a bot seem human. Luckily, there are creative content writers who write scripts specifically for chatbots. So, if you’re having trouble with your script or if the script is so large that you need a helping hand, content writers with experience in writing dialogue are well prepared to complete the script for you.
The script makes the bot
Bot-scripting is a skill set of its own. Scripting is still in the early stages of research and development, and new and exciting ways to better bots are being developed regularly. The key to success is to plan ahead, be creative, and engage your users.