After a couple of our unique bots, we more and more understand the relationship between users and chatbots. Our bots have received more than 40.000.000 messages, and we’ve modified the algorithms based on clear user expectations, to meet the needs of our users.
We shall emphasize two very important points, which are a must for a successful feature-oriented chatbot:
Education and Freedom
Users need to understand what functions the chatbot has, and what they can and cannot do with a bot.
We have to show them the limitations of the chatbots — which yes, they have — and we should avoid frustration when they meet them. They have to set down-to-earth expectations and need to know what kind of data they can get through the messaging and the graphical interface.
The education has to begin the moment the application has been launched.
As developers, we would love to inform our users about everything, present every single function in a long description which the user, of course, will not read, and going to start typing without being familiar with the functions.
We have to find the proper amount of text the user wants and willing to process, it is ideal to send them 3–4 short messages with small delays.
It is also important to present users only the basic functions after starting, and then to reveal more complex and sophisticated commands after a certain amount of time or functions.
According to our own experience, the use of images is inappropriate because of their large size and that they shift the important text material.
Of course, the right education does not substitute poorly constructed and illogically structured commands. In this case, we consider the available functions as easy-to-understand and easy-to-use functions.
I have read in several articles that users should come up with quick replies after launching, so they can choose exactly what they are interested in. This is extremely important for a content-oriented chatbot because we want to control the way the users go if the goal is to meet certain pieces of information.
With a function-oriented chatbot, if the users know its purpose and its limitations, they will able to use them without any problem, we can leave them hitting the ground running.
So freedom means that users can write the bot whatever they want, whenever they want it, without restrictions. Thus users can achieve a better chatbot experience.
Thanks to freedom, users can discover the bot functions themselves and push its boundaries. While they are doing so, we can study what new features would be most needed. We are still in the process of learning how to use chatbots, and developers are learning the behaviour of users while using them. There are two constantly interacting forces, and it takes time while a textbook description of the best operation forms, so please consider these as a suggestion.
We use this, and it seems that the right education and freedom are the key to the success of our feature-oriented chatbots.
Disclaimer: this is a translated version of an article originally posted on our own botblog.hu, on June 4, 2018.