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You could have the most sophisticated technology in the world and still deliver a terrible chatbot customer experience with bad conversation design. I liken that situation with employing the smartest salesperson that doesn’t have any social intelligence - they won’t necessarily make any sales.

Poor conversation design is partly where chatbots have had a bad rap in the past - giving the same error message over and over again, delivering too many long messages, poor conversation flow and so on.

Hold the phone, what is conversation design?

Conversation design is the creation of copy and content for what your chatbot or digital assistant will say to your leads, and how and when it will say it. It’s essentially the design of the user experience of your chatbot.

Many chatbot companies sell an ‘out-of-the-box’ chatbot solution and leave you to it. They sell you a platform to create your own chatbot where you then need to go away and write every possible response that it will make to your users. This takes a lot of time, energy and skill to ensure that your engine says the right thing at the right time. But there are solutions out there that offer conversation design services to save you the hassle.

Once the conversation has been designed, it can be input into the chatbot platform and integrated with your company’s website and chosen messaging apps so that you can start interacting with and converting more leads.

What is GOOD conversation design?

Good conversation design will align with your business goals, your business model and your customer personas so that your chatbot conversation sets you and your users up for the best results - that is, more meaningful interactions with each lead and customer.

A good conversation designer will consider all of the following and more:

  • Length of messages
  • Human-like responses
  • Conversation flow and UX
  • User personas
  • Address the user by their name
  • Alignment with your brand tone of voice and personality
  • Alignment with your user goals (e.g. making a purchase, getting a quote or asking a question)
  • Be upfront that it’s an automated engine, doing otherwise can seem disingenuous
  • When to use pre-canned responses to prompt the conversation and when to ask open questions
  • Build in user feedback and follow-ups
  • Be clear about what the engine can help with
  • Make it easy for the user to elect to speak with a human at any time
  • Consider when it’s best to direct the user to a larger body of information. Sometimes it’s better to collect an email address and send a pdf, or refer them to a page on your website where a body of information can be found
  • Consider the wait time between messages so that the ‘typing time’ seems realistic and gives the user enough time to read the previous message
  • Design the flow and direction of the conversation
  • Use images, video and other rich media at the right moment for better user engagement
  • Use product or service comparison carousels when appropriate
  • Plug-in booking or payment systems if required
  • Consider when to collect user data like email, address, name, phone number
  • Decide when a notification needs to be sent to you
  • Carefully design error messages and flow
  • Use lead profiling to deliver more empathic responses

The conversation is usually designed using a flow map so you can visualise and review the entire conversation in a snapshot, before building the bot.

Conversation Design example

At JRNY, our solution is an all-inclusive conversation tool. That is, we include a conversation design service as well as provide the technology and complete integrations for our clients. In collaboration with your team, we ensure the conversation design and flow matches your business goals, brand, customer personas and sales funnel before building.

Why is GOOD conversation design so darn important?

Good conversation design is important because if a conversation is designed poorly, your customer will have an extremely bad experience and we all know what happens when a company delivers a bad customer experience!

As I said before, the best technology in the world won’t mask bad conversation design.

Having a conversational specialist design your digital assistant for you can have the benefit of saving you the time and effort of programming each and every response yourself. A specialist is also constantly learning from experience and keeping up with best practice, and can help you get the most out of the technology if they know the platform well.

To set yourself up for success when implementing conversational AI for your company, we recommend using not only the best technology, but a solution that offers conversation design and implementation services too!

If you have any questions or comments about conversation design, feel free to flick me an email at!

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