8 Conversation Design Principles for Making Better Chatbot Conversations

8 Conversation Design Principles for Making Better Chatbot Conversations
8 Conversation Design Principles for Making Better Chatbot Conversations

Successful and effective conversations will make your customers satisfied and result in lasting relationships; hence, a good conversation design for your chatbot conversations is vital.

What is conversational design?

Conversation design is the art of teaching computers to communicate the way humans do. The concept of conversational design is about looking at human conversation as a model for all interactions with digital systems. An excellent conversational design uses everyday human interaction principles to create a better natural dialogue with systems. The goal of conversational design is to learn from human conversations to make digital systems easy and natural to use.
Conversational design requires knowledge of UX design, psychology, linguistics, and copywriting. This knowledge helps chatbot designers create natural conversations that promise a good user experience.

Why do we need a good chatbot conversation design?

In today’s world, conversations are the key to build effective long-term relationships. In the business ecosystem, you can engage your customers with effective conversations. Effective conversations help your customers trust and associate with the brand better.

Thanks to artificial intelligence and Chatbots, which deliver the best experience to the customer via effective conversations. However, a good conversation design is of vital importance for these successful and effective conversations.
Also, conversational interfaces give users the freedom to say anything. There can be a wide variety of ways in which people convey their problems. This makes it very difficult for a chatbot to understand the problem a user might have. Conversation design aims to map out what users might say and teach a chatbot to react in a way that helps users quickly get the answer to what they’re looking for.

What if we do not follow proper conversation design principles?

If you do not follow proper conversation design principles, your chatbot will be inefficient in dealing with customers. Your chatbot might get lost because of a poor conversation design and sometimes couldn’t even finish the conversation.
These bad experiences negatively affect the perception of chatbots for customers. And research shows that 75% of users who have a bad chatbot experience say they won’t use a chatbot again.
The chatbot technology is not responsible for this bad user experience. The fault lies in poor conversational design that results from not following proper conversation design principles.

Principles of Conversational Design

The key to designing interactions with systems that feel more human is to follow the core principles of human conversations. Basic principles of human conversation — such as providing information that’s true and relevant, brief and polite — can be applied while designing interactions with systems.
SocialBot brings you eight principles of successful conversation design and how you can apply them to create human-like chatbot conversations:

1) Cooperative

There’s no conversation without cooperation. The core underlying principle of conversation is cooperation. For a conversation to work, everyone must cooperate and do their part.
For example, if someone asks you for directions, you must cooperate by providing valuable and relevant information. To be cooperative, your chatbot should be intuitive and respond using simple language. The users should feel like the system is on their side, and they don’t have to put in a lot of work to initiate a conversation.
Conversation Design Principles
Systems that require special knowledge place a burden on customers to figure out how they work. On the other hand, cooperative systems actively support the user and require less effort to interact with.

2) Goal-Oriented

Having a clear goal in mind is a core principle of conversation design. The conversations should be designed in such a way that it meets your business goals. A successful interaction means both parties, i.e., customers and organizations meet their goals.
Conversation Design Principles
Users starting the conversation with a chatbot have a goal in mind, i.e., they want to make an appointment, order pizza, or check the weather. An effective conversation design enables both users and the chatbot to achieve their goals without much effort.
There should be clear goals and objectives defined, which the chatbot will help you achieve. If you’re not sure what those goals are, research to find out. User goals and needs can be explored via user research as part of the holistic design process.

3) Context-aware

The more contextual your chatbot is, the more conversational it will be. Grasping the context will help create better conversation outcomes for the bot.
Conversation Design Principles
When the customer is searching for hotel rooms available in Chicago, the bot should respond by showing available rooms in Chicago and should not deviate from the topics your customer is interested in. The system should respond to contextual cues and not leave users feeling stranded.
At this time, a bot should not show the rooms available in other cities or deals on hotels, flights, and rental car packages. Overly automated messages or recommendations that don’t add value to your users can be bad for users.
The bot should always be ready to provide additional insight into what users need throughout the different phases of their interactions and helps inform solutions that feel like they’ve been designed for humans.

4) Quick and Clear

Time is precious, and speed is everything. The response time of the chatbot should be well optimized to deliver a better experience to your customer. According to research, 69% of consumers prefer to use chatbots because they provide quick answers.
Conversation Design Principles
You can also save your user’s time by sending messages that are short, clear, and unambiguous. Use plain language and guide users in a logical sequence. Try to avoid complex metaphors, idioms, and long ambiguous statements. Highly technical language slows down the conversation, leaves people confused and unsure of what to do next. Also, don’t push offers and discounts on customers when they approach you to solve their problem.
Also, don’t ask a user to choose many things at once. If a query demands more information, then it needs to be broken down into smaller portions. In this way, the reader can grasp the message quickly without spending too much time reading it.

5) Turn-based

The conversation is the art of listening and responding. In an effective conversation, each party takes turns listening and responding appropriately. To avoid feeling one-sided, chatbots should make it clear whose turn it is at every moment. The conversations need to be interactive and responsive, which is an important element in your conversation design.
Conversation Design Principles
Don’t send many replies one after another. This will confuse the user as to which message they should reply first. With many messages on their screen, they might need to scroll to get the whole message. Give some space to your customers to respond and react. Everybody prefers natural, turn-taking interaction. Let users take their turn in the conversation.
With SocialBot, you can also set the speed at which your chatbot replies. This will help make your conversation more natural.
Moreover, always validate user answers so that they know your chatbot understands what they want. Validating the input is correct before moving forward to prevent any misunderstandings. This also helps keep the conversation moving along smoothly. If possible, summarize what has been achieved during the end of the conversations for better understanding.

6) Truthful

The chatbot should deliver accurate and authentic information to the customers about the product or the service. Being truthful in conversation design means ensuring a strong match between what the user expects and what the system offers. This is essential to develop the trust of the customers.
Conversation Design Principles
The conversation should not be misleading and shouldn’t make any false claims or promises. Your users should always know what they will find after clicking the links and buttons your chatbot is sending. It would help if you never lured users with a misleading “Get Started” link that forces users to create an account before even knowing what they’re signing up for. Such methods feel deceptive, lowers trust, and negatively impacts how credible your system is. If your chatbot fools users by providing incorrect responses or data, they won’t trust it in the future.

7) Polite

Politeness is the quality of being respectful and using proper language. It helps make people feel more relaxed and comfortable with one another in a conversation. Polite designs help organizations meet business goals while also making customers feel good.
Conversation Design Principles
The bot should have the manners, knowledge, and attitude of someone you would hire to face your customers. While making conversations, your bot should be aware of the target audience. The bot should consider factors such as the lifestyle and demographics of the target audience to well connect with them. Try to make interactions with digital systems feel less robotic and more personal. Greet your customers, bid them goodbye, and wherever necessary, offer an apology when there is a deviation in delivering the results.
If you want to ask a customer to fill a survey for you, ask politely for it. Don’t be rude, and don’t show up unnecessary pop-ups and videos, which will irritate your customers. Respect your user’s time and try to make digital interactions feel more considerate and pleasantly productive.

8) Error-tolerant

Errors happened when the user said something that your chatbot can’t comprehend or requested something the bot can’t deliver. Errors are bound to happen at any point in the conversation. However, the way we handle errors and recover from them defines the success of the whole conversation. The bottom line is not to leave the user getting frustrated and giving up.
Conversation Design Principles
Computers are programmed to follow instructions based on reason and logic. Usually, chatbots don’t always understand the user. The point is to teach them to resolve misunderstandings quickly. Try to anticipate common spelling mistakes first. Make your chatbot error-tolerant by teaching these variations to improve its understanding.
In Socialbot, you can also pause a bot and transfer a user to a human agent if it goes beyond the chatbot’s capabilities.


Apply these conversation design best practices to make your chatbot provide a human-like experience. Conversational design is a design that feels human, even when it’s just a network of systems.
If you wish to know more about SocialBot, visit https://www.socialman.ai/socialbot/

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