Why Chatbots Fail: Common UX Mistakes

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Over the past decades, chatbots have proven to become great customer service tools for businesses with the rise in NLP and other related technologies. They have helped organizations improve sales, provide unique customer experience, and automate some of the most tedious tasks. While chatbots can provide great user experience to your end-users, a poorly designed chatbot can inflict a lot of pain resulting in a poor experience. To unleash the full potential of the technology, you need to better understand and have control over conversations between bots and humans

The key to success is to define a proper strategy for conversational design to engage. In this article, I will walk through some of the common UX mistakes that developers make while developing a chatbot.


Undefined Objective

Why do you want to have a chatbot in the first place? Chatbots are tools that are meant to solve problems, don’t get too excited with the capabilities it offers. Define clearly your objectives and goals that the chatbots can help you to accomplish. Don’t try to do too many things and don’t ambitious with the existing technology. E.g. A bot creating a service request or reporting an issue is a good scope for an IT Help Desk bot, however handling enterprise-related queries can lead to a poor experience. This is because in most cases, the users may end up asking questions that are not within the scope of the bot. Hence define what the bot can do for the end-users.

Lack of Proper Interaction

Keep your bot replies brief and to the point. Something messaging needs to be broken down for readability. E.g. a user might be asking for a troubleshooting document. Don’t paste the troubleshooting step in a single message. Instead, break it down in steps and provide a conversational experience for users.

Not all messages are handled in a chat format. You could use cards, buttons, actions, and other interactive elements to the user. User-orientation is key and must be accomplished with persuasive design techniques. Provide hints a.k.a suggestion actions to allow users to make intuitive choices rather than user typing it out especially when the responses can be pre-defined.

The use of emoji is also recommended to make your messages more vivid. You could also add delays between messages which makes the conversations more human-like. Don’t hit a dead-end, provide a way for users to continue the conversations.

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NLP/NLU capabilities

NLP (Natural Language Processing) and NLU (Natural Language Understanding) are used in conversational AI for interpreting human language. With NLU/NLP, the bot can detect misspellings, recognize named entities, and can also divide sentences.

However, most bots fail when they are unable to answer unique, personal, contextual, complex, or unusually phrased questions. Not all NLP models are the same, some fail to understand simple queries too. Sometimes users could type in a transliterated/multi-lingual format that the bot will fail to understand.

Lack of Personality

Why do machines need a personality? No one likes talking to a robot, and that’s why brands try to humanize the bot to have a connection with the audience. Chatbots are created for human interaction and should be more “human” like. Having a bot personality is similar to how your brand has a unique visual identity and hence your conversation design should be distinctive and linked with the character of your business.

Your chatbot is one of your brand ambassadors and should resonate with your brand personality.

Lack of Integrations

A chatbot that gives mere responses to queries is only as good as reading a knowledge article/browsing a website. Often, chatbots are developed in a way that provides only answers and not actions. E.g. A user might want to report an issue, an incorrect way of response will be providing a link to a form. The effectiveness of chatbots is lost if the user must navigate outside of the bot. Rather the bot must ask a set of questions and provide a response by integration with business systems like CRMs. This makes the bot more useful and increases adaptation.

Omnichannel Experience

Most bots are deployment only across a single channel which is fine if your customers use it as the main interaction channel. However, when it comes to enterprise bots it’s important to become omnichannel. E.g. Many organizations use collaboration tools like Slack/Microsoft Teams. A bot that integrates with these platforms makes more sense rather than asking users to go to a webpage to chat. More important is that, the experience across the channels should be similar. Some messaging channels have limitations; however, you will have to figure out ways to overcome these.


When designing a chatbot, it’s important to know what it takes to create a useful conversational AI. Learning your audience’s needs and communication methods will provide value and enable you to create a better chatbot that will be more “human” friendly.

Humans + Machine = ♥

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Why Chatbots Fail: Common UX Mistakes was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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