Why You Should NEVER Use ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ Chatbot Buttons

Safeguard your chatbot from one of the most prominent user errors

Thinking about using ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ chatbot buttons? Please STOP and read this article first…

Users will misuse your chatbot far more often than you expect 🤖

If you think most users will use your chatbot as expected this is clearly your first rodeo. Not only will user conversations surprise you but you will likely find yourself dumbfounded by many of them.

To expect a chatbot conversation to go as planned is the literal equivalent to meeting a stranger and expecting to know exactly how that conversation will unfold ahead of time. Plain and simple, it’s nearly impossible to predict chatbot user behavior.

If your chatbot has made you feel this way, don’t worry. You’re not alone…

Moral of the story here is to expect the unexpected and take whatever measures you can to safeguard your precious chatbot from user error as best as you can. Otherwise, don’t be surprised when your chatbot fails miserably.

If you think users read everything your chatbot says, you’re wrong 🤦

This one of the first and harshest lessons I learned after building my first chatbot. Unless your chatbot is designed purely for entertainment purposes — in which case this may still happen — expect users to frequently skim through your chatbot’s responses instead of reading them verbatim.

Users are ultimately looking to get some sort of value from your chatbot, and if that value isn’t pure entertainment, then they will try to get through the chatbot conversation as quickly as possible to reach the prize aka that value they’re seeking. This cruel reality only increases the likelihood that users will make mistakes when navigating through your chatbot’s conversation flow.

The key takeaway here is that you need to keep your chatbot responses brief and straight to the point wherever possible. Any unnecessary dialogue that doesn’t help the user navigate to what they’re looking for is just adding to the probability of user error and misuse.

A perfect example of a long chatbot response that is at risk of getting skimmed over

Using Single-word chatbot buttons such as ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ is like begging for user error 🙏

Now that we’ve established the likelihood that users will skim through and misread your chatbot content, let’s couple that with the use of vague, single-word chatbot buttons such as ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. I’m going to provide a simple real-world example that actually occurred in a chatbot that I previously built to prove why these minuscule chatbot buttons are so dangerous.

In this example, we have a support-based chatbot whose initial message to the user asks them to confirm whether or not they’re an existing customer. This is a critical inquiry as existing customers should continue through the chatbot conversation and hopefully get the support they need from the chatbot. Users that are new customers need to get routed to a contact center queue where a sales rep will reach out to them.

Users that are not paying attention to the content in this initial message may click the ‘Yes’ chatbot button indicating that they’re an existing customer where in fact they may have just made a mistake. Now, this user is getting free support instead of a callback from a sales rep. This is a simple example, but you can see just how costly user mistakes like this can be to your chatbot’s success.

You’d be shocked at how many users will incorrectly respond to these ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ chatbot buttons

Opt for brevity except when labeling your chatbot buttons ✏️

In that example, the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ chatbot buttons should’ve been labeled ‘Yes, I’m an existing customer’ and ‘No, I’m new’ to help prevent user error. While users will often skim through a chatbot response, they’re generally far more likely to pay attention to the label of a chatbot button since they have to focus on the chatbot button while engaging in the act of clicking on it.

Chatbot buttons with descriptive labels such as these help to prevent user error

So, when building your next chatbot opt for brevity in your chatbot messages to minimize the likelihood of users skimming, but make sure to label chatbot buttons in a manner that makes it clear what action the user will be taking by clicking on it even if they didn’t read a word of the associated chatbot message.

As always, remember to ‘Keep calm and chatbot on’…

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +388,456 people.

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