What Is the Cooperative Principle? Is It Relevant to Conversation?

When the bots you create can support the natural flow of conversations, they can help you enhance the experiences users have. But improving conversational design often requires following a few best practices to simplify the process. That’s where the Cooperative Principle comes in handy. The Cooperative Principle is British philosopher Paul Grice’s theory that the typical conversational flow is based on norms that people implement. Here’s why it matters and how you can implement it in conversational design:

Why Cooperative Principle is Important

The conversational flow is important for ensuring users achieve their goals. The flow of conversation needs to be natural and one that offers information that can help users get the answers to their questions and make their lives more simple. That’s why the Grice’s Cooperative Principle is important when designing your chatbot. Even leading companies like Google employ the concepts from the Cooperative Principle in their conversational design. With proper conversational design, you can enhance the user experience.

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How to Design Bots Using the Cooperative Principle

Designing your bots for success using the Cooperative Principle requires relying on Grice’s Maxims, including the maxims of relation, manner, quality and quantity. By taking these maxims into account, you can improve your conversational design and enhance the user experience. Here are some best practices to implement:

  • Be Clear. When you provide clarity, you can help users understand what your bot is communicating. Avoid dialogues that can facilitate ambiguity. For instance, design your bots to advise users of the next steps to expect after the bot collects information for a prospective sale.
  • Make your bot relatable. Give your bot a personality that users can relate to by including familiar colloquiums and dialogue. This helps to support a natural flow of conversation and enhance the user experience.
  • Be upfront. Don’t leave users in the dark about who is handling their concerns. Let your users know up front that they are speaking to a bot and make them aware of what the bot can do for them. When the bot needs to transfer the user to a live person, ensure the bot communicates this information.
  • Get help from a conversational designer. Conversational designers can also prove beneficial in improving the conversation design. Use the help of a conversational designer to review your script for your bot to ensure the information it shares is relevant and resourceful for users.
  • Be concise and give efficient information. Consider improving the flow of conversation by designing your chatbot for brevity. Include dialogue that provides users with sufficient information. Your bot should be brief with the information it provides. Limit it to what users need to accomplish their goals. For example, instead of providing a user with the rundown of every detail to expect from the forecast for the day, limit your bot’s answer to a weather forecast inquiry to the conditions for that morning and evening.
  • Test with a chatbot prototype. Prototyping tools, such as Botsociety, give you the chance to test your chatbot before you finish the product. For instance, you can use Botsociety to create a chatbot prototype and test the flow of conversation with beta users. This makes it simple to identify errors, fix mistakes and improve the overall quality of your chatbot before you present it to customers.
cooperative principle

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Final Thoughts

Improving the flow of conversations requires meeting user expectations with conversations that flow naturally. Your chatbots can achieve this when you implementing the maxims of the Cooperative Principle in your conversational design.

When you design with the Cooperative Principle in mind, you can support a natural conversational flow, improve communication between your users and your chatbot and enhance the user experience.

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Originally published at Botsociety Blog.