A guide to conversation design

Chatbot Marketing


You might be seeing the words “conversation design” thrown around more in the future as we see AIs like Google Assistant (and Google’s creepy yet extremely effective Duplex) being pushed as the latest accessible innovations from the tech giant’s bag of tricks. In fact, Google has a great introduction course to get you familiar with conversation design and if it’s right for your business.

Now, conversation design is generally associated with audio cues and is the solution to the clunkily built, frustrating and time wasting voice assistants of yesteryear. However, it’s not restricted to voice and extends itself to visual conversations, thus making it an integral part of building our chatbots. The visual aspect of conversation design is also very different from aural conversation design and has subtle differences to take note of.

Here are our top 3 tips to keep in mind when you do your own designing:

1.     Breathe some life into your bot

Before you begin writing any dialogue, think about the personality behind your bot and brand. Who is your bot and who is your audience? The great thing about this trending emphasis on conversation design is since the focus is on creating an engaging experience for users, it means it’s a lot more fun for the person behind the “voice” too. Google made the bold move to include Google Doodle head Ryan Germick and ex-Pixar animator Emma Coats in the development of Google Assistant to bring the AI to life.

A quote from Coats is very telling of how users may not realise what they really want from their technology:

There have been studies that show that it doesn’t necessarily matter if you instantly click with someone. One thing we do is to make the character as entertaining as we possibly can, so that you want to spend time with it.”

2.     Keep it simple and avoid technical jargon

You can get away with a bit more dialogue when using a voice assistant but for visual conversations, keep it short and snappy. A TL;DR just doesn’t work as well in chat. Remember that the best conversations aren’t when one person is talking more than the other. You want a balanced and equal exchange.

A great way to keep your dialogue shorter is to use terminology that isn’t alienating and robotic. More than likely your average user won’t be an engineer so use language that is familiar and natural. Instead of words like “invalid” and “valid”, simply ask for what you really need. For example, instead of “Please enter a valid zip code that is 4 digits long” say something like, “What’s the 4 digit zip code?”.  

3.     Don’t use exclamation marks (!)

As tempting as it is to use exclamations marks to show your bot as a friendly, enthusiastic personality, exclamation marks actually make your bot come off as a loud and shouting being. No one likes being shouted at. Especially if you just wanted to know the opening hours of a store.

If you recall our blog post about award winning chatbot, Mitsuku, you’ll remember that we were dazzled by her ability to keep up an engaging conversation. We spent almost too much time getting to know Mitsuku’s cool and collected personality and letting her get to know us. A well designed bot places the conversation in our hands yet quietly guides us. It makes us feel acknowledged and listened to, yet we don’t mind being the one to ask questions either.

All this might seem over-the-top for a simple marketing chatbot you’re trying to build for your brand’s facebook page but it’s something to think about. The more your bot sounds like a well-rounded persona, the more trust users will place in your company. That’s definitely a win-win situation.  

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