Is your chatbot conversational?
May 15, 2019 • 6 minute read

Is Your Chatbot Conversational? Here are 7 questions you need to ask

What does it mean to be conversational?

We’ve seen a rise in conversational marketing over the past few years. Conversational marketing is exactly what is sounds like, a marketing style the companies use to engage and interact with their customers in a way that feels natural, casual, and informal. Because of this demand in conversational marketing, we have seen companies introduce chatbots that speak to customers in a seemingly conversational way.

But if we take a step back and examine the majority of chatbots, we find that they do not perform in a conversational manner at all. It’s rare to find a chatbot that you can actually have a natural conversation with, without having to alter the way that you speak or repeat yourself to be understood. To be truly conversational, chatbots should adapt to the way that humans speak, instead of the other way around.

So, does your chatbot or virtual assistant pass the test? Ask these 7 questions to your chatbot to see it’s truly conversational and effortless for your customers.

1. Do you understand what people are saying?

Chatbots are programmed to understand certain keywords that trigger a predetermined response. This limits them from being able to understand and respond based on the user’s intent. To be conversational, chatbots must be able to craft their response based on the entire context of what the customer is saying. This enables natural and easy conversation. Advancing a chatbot with technology like Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Adaptive Understanding can take customer conversations to this next level.

2. Do you sound like a person?

It’s important that your chatbot sounds natural. And we’re not saying that they have to fool people into thinking they are a human, but chatbots should be able to converse in a way that doesn’t feel forced or robotic. If humans have to alter the way that they speak or think in order to interact with your chatbot, it is for sure not conversational.

3. Can you answer typical FAQs effectively?

Chatbots can work great for answering frequently asked questions that only require a simple question and answer. However, due to their technology, sometimes chatbots can fail at answering accurately. For example, let’s say a customer begins a conversation with a chatbot to see if the hotel room they want to book has WiFi. The customer asks “Do rooms come with internet?” A human would be able to understand that this guest is referencing WiFi. But if a chatbot is not programmed with the ability to understand that “internet” in this context is the same as WiFi, then they would not be able to accurately answer this query. This can lead to customer service representatives being overloaded with simple queries like this, that chatbots with the right technology should be able to answer.

4. Do you know when the question is out of scope?

Even when dealing with advanced technology, there will usually come a time when chatbot does not understand or does not know the answer. The worst thing that a chatbot can do at this point is to keep responding with an inaccurate answer. In order to be conversational, the virtual assistant should be able to recognize when they do not know the answer to a query, and redirect the conversation to a live agent. And it’s a huge plus if the chatbot is able to pass off the context and past history of the conversation to the agent so that the user does not have to repeat themselves.

5. How do you handle non-responses?

People get busy. Maybe they started contacting the chatbot during their lunch break and had to get back to work. How does the chatbot handle the user coming back to the conversation? For the conversation to be natural, the chatbot should pick up the conversation where it was left off. How strange and frustrating would it be if you had to restart an entire conversation with another human every time you stepped away for a minute? Making sure that your chatbot has omnichannel capabilities, so that they can not only transfer the conversation between channels, but also maintain the context of the conversation across them, is key to a truly conversational chatbot.

6. Do you know when to engage a human?

A chatbot needs to know its limits. Technology can be pretty advanced, but we can all agree that there are some things that just need to be done with a live person. Most commonly, customers prefer talking to humans when discussing medical appointments or complicated insurance problems. When this happens, chatbots should be able to collect the information that is needed from the customer and then transfer the caller to the correct representative, so that there is an easy and effortless transition to the live agent. This frees up the agents time to focus on the part of the issue that need their attention, not the mind-numbing data collection tasks that a virtual assistant can usually complete in a more timely manner.

7. Do you know how to utilize other digital assets?

Companies spend a lot of time and money developing web and mobile applications, programs, and pages. Chatbots should be able to leverage these assets, whether it’s driving traffic, referencing them to create a personalized experience, or helping customers use them. Many chatbots have such limited capacity that they can only churn out siloed responses that are not interconnected with other backend systems.

Does your chatbot live up to the test?

If not, you’re not alone. Most chatbots were not created to handle the complicated nature of conversational interactions. In fact, Facebook messenger chatbots saw a failure rate of 70 percent while handling customer requests. Most chatbots were made in an eager attempt to provide a conversational face for companies, without the actual technology or intelligence required on the backend to deliver optimal customer experience.

And while not all chatbots were created with it, the technology to deliver a truly conversational virtual assistant does exist. Do your customers a favor and give them easy, effortless, and productive conversations with virtual assistants that deliver.


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