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As companies are exploring the use of customer service chatbots, one of the first candidates of content that come to mind to “botify” is the existing FAQs often represented on corresponding sections on a website. It is tempting to think that you could just take these and convert them into the form of a Conversational UI (CUI) – they are already in the form of answers to questions after all, right?
In reality, though, it takes a bit more to build a chatbot that really does a good job of serving customers. Taking existing content and just swapping out the User Interface is a natural gut reaction whenever a new UI emerges. This was the case with early Websites and mobile apps on multi-touch smartphone screens. Early Websites were full of text and had little rich media, let alone interactivity. And it wasn’t until Angry Birds came out, a full year and a half after the launch of the app store, to truly embrace gestural multi-touch UI. And these are just of few of the many other examples that can be cited. Now we have the CUI and it will take some time for the designs to adapt themselves to this relatively new paradigm of man-machine interaction.
Best practices are being established, and first books about the topic are being published (e.g. Designing Bots: Creating Conversational Experiences by Amir Shevat, or, with more of a focus on voice: Designing Voice User Interfaces: Principles of Conversational Experiences by Cathy Pearl). Tools that promise to just absorb an FAQ section of a website and convert that into a conversational bot are out there and sound promising – yet they quickly fail with simple real-world examples.
So WHY does an FAQ not translate 1:1 into a customer service chatbot? There are several reasons.
1) The nature of a dialog: content is king, but context is queen (and she runs the household)!
This is the probably the most important reason, so I’m mentioning it upfront.
Chatbots are meant to chat with the user, not to produce one answer and then end the conversation. Humans don’t communicate in question-answer pairs. Real world communication is much messier than that. By offering a medium commonly used for conversations among friends and family, say SMS, iMessage, or Facebook Messenger, you have to assume customers expect their experience will be similar when chatting with a business. Yet many chatbots can’t even respond to “hi“, one of the most frequent messages sent to a chatbot.
As a side note: to me, this is the number one reason why IVR systems so often disappoint. We expect human, but get “press 1 or press 2” – an unfamiliar and unexpected user interface on a highly familiar channel.
It is in the nature within a dialog for people to ask follow-up questions. And when they do, they like to use pronouns to refer to previously mentioned topics or things. This follows the least-effort principle that permeates human language in so many areas. Consider the following Go to the full article.
Source:: Business 2 Community