How to make your Chatbot Suck Less

Here's how to not make your chatbot fail as badly as Microsoft's Tay

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By Rustam Singh


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Chatbots are (unfortunately) looking like a trend that will stick around for a while. Artificial Intelligent bots are neither new, nor revolutionary and have existed since forever. However, like other forms of technology, they have gone progressively more and more advance, as compared to just searching certain keywords to a pre-saved response from an archive of words and languages to response to. My earliest memory of using a AI chatbot was easily almost a decade ago a software that could fit on a Floppy Drive called Ecliza (there should be an archive of it somewhere deep buried on the internet) that ran a simple DOS styled chat bot. You could type in anything and about 6 times out of ten, the bot would give a response that made sense.

Today, bots are adaptive. They remember the context, your previous chat history, and quickly learn what is what. Since they're connected to the internet, they are updated seamlessly. Bots can be used independently by businesses as well as assistive to human communicators to assist handling large volumes of communications. Facebook has recently launched chatbots with the hope businesses can utilize them to communicate. Intermediary communicative chatbot services are common for middle start-ups, such as ones that do basic work for you, including but not limited to searching cheapest air tickets, food options or plan a trip. If you don't want your bot to end up like a weed smoking Nazi from Microsoft like Tay, use these basic tips to best utilize its efforts:

Have clearly definable goals

Exactly why are you having a bot in your business? Is it to boost sales, handle customer feedback, provide a pause for the while a real customer support is alert and functional or is it just to add to the cool factor? Share you clear goals with the developer so that they can program your bot accordingly.

Connect to existing functionality

The chat bot must be familiar with your business and it's functioning. Be sure to connect it to the updated list of databases, which are updated frequently. Chatbots fail because they aren't updated in real time and give obsolete information. A perfectly designed bot should be able to fit in like a new employee, not a fresher.

Prepare for failure & glitches

A.I. bots are nowhere near perfect and from the looks of it, doesn't look like they'll be anywhere near there before a few years. Be sure to have a way that the bot fails gracefully in case the user asks something it's not programmed to handle. A witty response, something funny or an option to restart is good, but an option to connect to a senior is even better. You can even program the bot to politely ask the user to reframe the question. If the bot fails again, you'll have data to adapt the user on and make it better in the future.

Keeping it polite

The tone of the voice shouldn't appear too robotic or too casual. A mix between polite and informal is ideal, but it should also be crisp and straight to the point. Conveying concern or using generic statements to praise or expert sympathy with their cause and users will be more relatable. Pay special attention if the user is asking to speak to a human!

Listen more and speak less

The universal rule of communication also applies here. Since all chat logs are recorded, they're a great way for customer feedback. What product is working, what service should be there, where can you improve and what you need to downgrade a notch etc are all essential questions answered by bots.

Do you use chatbots in your business? Let us know in the comments on our official Facebook page Entrepreneur India

Rustam Singh


Tech reporter.

Contact me if you have a truly unique technology related startup looking for a review and coverage, especially a crowd-funded project looking to launch and coverage.

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