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5 things to think about when designing conversations

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Human centricity is at the heart of a good conversational experience. Most bots are currently being developed by engineers only, and sadly they do not always have the best track record when it comes to social skills.

The experiences they create often lack human centricity. There is little empathy and this is causing the user to feel lost and unimportant. It increases the odds of a user dropping out of the experience.

That is why we want to focus on a human-centric conversation design process. We want to figure out a user’s anxieties, motivations and context. We want to really get to the bottom of this and use to develop an experience where users feel understood. This builds trust and allows you to take more control of the experience.

The user will let you guide him when he feels understood. This allows for a higher completion rate and altogether a better experience. At Robocopy we have developed a Conversation Design Process that offers a few canvasses that ensure human centricity is at the heart. Go through the steps in a structured way, and your bot is destined to be natural and empathic.

During the conversation design process, sample dialogue and role play is the trick to making your conversations natural. Once you have filled in the canvas that we mentioned in point 3, you should have a clear understanding of your user’s needs, and a good picture of your bot’s capabilities and limitations.

Time for role-play. We are going to use improvisational theatre to figure out what the most natural flow of the conversation is.

One person will play the user. And one person will play your chatbot or voice assistant. They sit back to back from each other and have the conversation. This allows them — with a couple of iterations — to get to the most natural conversation.

It is important that they cannot see each other. This forces them to only use words to explain things. It gets rid of all the visual communication that people use when conversing.

It is very tempting to want to have an answer for everything. However, this is only good for getting a headache. You want to make sure that you do not waste too much time solving for situations that hardly ever occur. That is why you want to focus on the happy flow.

The Pareto principle applies. Go 80/20 when designing conversations.

In terms of the conversation design process, it means that 80% of your users will go through 20% of the conversations. They have regular situations without too much complexity or exceptions. You want to make sure you give them your love and attention and do not spend too much time on the edge cases.

Before you know it, you are going to be spending 80% of your time on 20% of your users in all those weird exceptions. You want to avoid that. In complex situations, it is better to hand over to an agent or forward them to a website for more information.

For example, we can easily make a nice conversation for a couple putting in a reservation at a restaurant. But it quickly becomes challenging when the reservation is for 9 people, with two people with gluten allergies and when 4 are in a wheelchair.

Sure, we welcome them in our restaurant, but we do not have to design a conversation for this exception. It is better to advice them to give us call, so that we can set up their perfect table and ensure they have a great dining experience.

There are many more things you can learn to optimize your conversation design process. These are just some fundamental concepts for you to think about before starting your next project.

If you are interested in becoming a conversation design expert, perhaps our certification course at the Conversational Academy is something for you. You can also always shoot us an email, and join the Facebook or Instagram community for regular updates and wisdom.

Happy designing!





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