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Let’s chat about Chatbots

As customer service and support becomes more and more important, companies are having to come up with new ideas to keep their customers happy and to respond to their requests or questions as soon and as conveniently as possible. Cue Chatbots – as messaging apps become a popular communication channel, businesses have started using Chatbots to interact with their customers and their employees.

What are Chatbots?

Chatbots are a type of computer program that can be used with artificial intelligence (read more about AI in our previous blog) to simulate conversations with users using natural language. Chatbots can be used in web applications, call centres and quite impressively can be integrated with extremely popular messaging services such as WhatsApp and Telegram.

Businesses can use Chatbots to help users with day-to-day tasks or as a means of answering frequently asked questions. For example, a user could ask a Chatbot to update their personal information or to please order them a coffee. Chatbots bring extreme convenience, as well as peace of mind and allow for businesses to automate and digitise simple and everyday business functions!

When building Chatbots there are four main components to consider, namely: Intents, Entities, Utterances and Responses.

  • Intents: These are possible reasons as to why a user would be using a Chatbot. An example of intents includes “checkCalendar” or “bookMeeting”. Intents allow for the chatbot to easily identify what the user is inquiring about in a conversation-like manner.
  • Entities: Placeholders for which the user would input information specific to an intent. For example, a user may ask the Chatbot, “Please book a meeting for me tomorrow” triggering the intent “bookMeeting”, “tomorrow” can belong to an entity “dateTime”.
  • Utterances: Used with natural language processing to extract the intent of the user and specific entities. Natural language processing allows the Chatbot to understand the user’s requests without the user having to structure their request in a specific manner. Utterances are sample phrases that can be used to train the Chatbot on what users could request and possible ways of phrasing a request, allowing intents to be triggered.
  • Responses: Create a conversation-like flow between the user and the Chatbot. These Chatbot responses can be in the form of a message or information such as a web link, document or photo. Responses can be used to confirm the Chatbot’s understanding of user input or to ask the user for input.

Let’s chat about best practices

The first, and most important is to ensure a linear conversational flow between the user and the Chatbot. This type of conversational flow follows a question-answer type structure, thereby reducing the likelihood of the Chatbot misunderstanding the user and improving its robustness.

Secondly, Chatbots should be designed with fallback responses in case it misunderstands the user’s request. These fallback responses can include transferring the user to a live call centre operator or responding with an explanation stating that it does not understand.

Thirdly, the Chatbot should be designed in such a way so as to prompt the user so that they know the capabilities of the Chatbot and the type of requests that they can make. This prevents the conversations from diverting from the original topic.

Fourth, buttons can be used in a conversation when a simple yes or no answers are required from the user. However, buttons should not be overused since it compromises the conversation-like experience, as this is the most important aspect along with accuracy.

Fifth, It is recommended that users should be given the option of providing feedback to the Chatbot about their conversational experience after the chat has ended. This gives developers the opportunity to improve the Chatbot, its capabilities and its accuracy.

Lastly, it’s important to know that chat logs can be stored allowing businesses to conduct thorough data analysis on aspects such as, what users ask the Chatbot most often or how often the Chatbot is unable to fulfil the users’ requests.

When following best practices and using a reputable Chatbot program, you’re bound to be successful and keep the conversation between your company and your customers flowing! Contact us to get your company it’s very own Chatbot and keep the conversation going! web@piidigital.co.za


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