Do chatbots dream of electric sheep?

Chatbots are a trend and I’m a trendy girl. I’m also a girl that believes tech can help resolve other girls’ problems – but needs to do it in an easy, no hassle, no patronising, no boring way.

Chatbots are easy, no hassle and, if their personalities are designed well, no patronising and no boring.

I´m using Chatfuel to program my chatbot prototype because it’s easy to use, easy to test and free! Another reason to use it is that it comes with built-in analytics, allows to switch from a conversation with a chatbot to a conversation with a real human in a very easy way, and comes with a lot of integrations.

Did I mention Chatfuel also has a little AI-like module? The possibilities are endless!

While programming my chatbot I found the most important thing to get right is the personality I want it to have and the flow of the conversation.

  1. First rule: Using short text blocks makes my both feel more human. Long blocks of text == boring!
  2. Early on I had to design a personality for my chatbot. This helps me keep the tone uniform across topics and defines the tone of my links and default answers (for example when something is not understood)
  3. Because my chatbot is for young women I decided to make my bot a chatter and a joker. She also uses loads of emoji! 🤖❤️
  4. At certain points I need to make sure the chatbot understands the question asked. For this the easier is to repeat the understanding and to offer yes and no buttons. When doing this, to get rid of the phone tree feeling, I make my bot say things like “Did I hear xyz?” or “That sounded like xyz – have I gotten that right?”
  5. Avoiding repetition in hard as hell, but specially important for confirmations and high level menus. While testing the bot I realised some sentences are repeated again and again – which makes my chatbot a bit boring. I would love Chatfuel to allow for randomization of blocks, as I saw project like Rosie have.
  6. Last, but probably MOST IMPORTANTLY: Language variations are going to represent a big challenge. Spanish, the language I’m using for my chatbot, varies a lot from one country to another and even within some countries, as in Spain. In my case, as a Spanish from Spain writing a chatbot for Uruguay, this is particularly challenging. The only solution for this, for now, is basically to work with locals and end users, understand their use of language and iterate, iterate, iterate. Maybe in the future AI will take care of that.

Now back to work! If you’re working with chatbots (specially health chatbots or chatbots in Spanish) I’d love to chat some time. My email is hola@cristinasantamarina.com – I promise it will be me answering and not a bot 🙂

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