5 Chatbot Questions You Must Be Ready For
Update: Since this blog post was first published, we've continued collecting data on the most our chatbot's frequently asked questions. Grab the extensive list here: FAQs Your Chatbot Should Have an Answer to.
We all have a plan.
We plan for our chatbots to do one thing and do it well. We build it to do that one thing and it goes and does it well. We then release our little chatbot into the wild like a proud mama.
It is the best thing since sliced bread.
And then... people.
People always have a different plan.
Chatbot users tend to have a few questions of their own they'd like to ask, and you better be ready for them.
I pulled some data from the chabots we've built and these are the five chatbot questions you are most likely going to have to deal with - regardless of the bot you built.
1. 'Are you a robot?'
This is far and away the number one question chatbot users ask.
Variants of this question include 'are you a bot?', 'are you a chatbot?', and 'are you real?'
As our more avid readers know, we are strong believers in not lying to your users. Even though it is tempting to program your chatbot to say something clever like 'No, I'm Karl'; this isn't a good idea.
Roy Trenneman may think people are a 'bunch of ba****ds', but they are not stupid. Once your users figure out your chatbot is, in fact, a bot, you are in deep trouble.
To avoid it all, be upfront. You can keep it fun, but honest. Don't fake it.
2. 'What is your name?'
While this question may seem simple and inoffensive, it actually touches on the entire existential aspect of chatbots.
What is your chatbot's name? Who, or what, is your chatbot? Does it even have a name?
This question brings up the branding aspect of your chatbot design. You should be ready for it not only because users are going to ask, but because this is something you need to figure out internally, as a company.
We often have meetings with multiple seniors in a business just to map out the branding of their chatbot, its persona, tone, name, and representation (which usually includes a whole lot of silly drawings).
I would advise you to give your chatbot a name.
3. 'How does it work?'
Chatbots are new. For the majority of your audience, yours may be the very first chatbot they have ever interacted with. In our recent study, we found that 75% of consumers have not yet spoken to a chatbot.
You must provide guidance.
This question is so common because most users are
a) new to this,
We have covered the novelty of chatbots, so let's talk about the two other aspects.
Your chatbot users will be impatient. Most of, if not all, the chatbots we build include an onboarding sequence. This onboarding sequence explains to the users the functionalities, what they can ask and the commands they should use.
Yet, most people will still ask the 'how does it work' question. Even if you prepare the best onboarding sequence ever, you will need an answer to this question.
And, your chatbot users will be excited. This is a whole new concept for them, they are going to want to experience the fun - instantly.
Waiting for and reading through a series of messages for onboarding? Pffft, no way. Click a few buttons to understand how things work? That's not conversational!
They don't care about what they should ask. They want to interact and ask their questions.
This is a good thing, and you must be ready for it. I suggest you prepare a standard answer that includes the common commands and 'things to try'.
Even the 'big boys' don't always get it right:
The Adidas Women chatbot was not quite ready for my question.
4. 'How are you?'
It's time to let your creativity loose.
This is one of the most common questions your chatbot is going to be asked, and one that does not require a specific answer. It is up to you to decide how you want to answer it!
None of the boring: 'you should really say something that implies XYZ' or 'careful not to do that when you answer' here. You are free to have fun and let your brand persona come out.
Variants include 'what's up?' and 'how's things?'.
The Monkey chatbot we built for Unilever had a fun personality. It was designed to deliver silly jokes and make people laugh. When asked 'what's up', this was one of his answers:
Oh, the fun we've had.
5. 'Do you like [celebrity]?'
Surprisingly, people often ask this question.
While the US presidential campaign was in full flow, our chatbots received a whole bunch of 'Do you like Trump?', or 'What do you think of Trump?'.
I think this question shows a more interesting side of chatbot users: current events.
Your users are going to ask things about events happening right now in the world. More often than not, these events include 'celebrities'.
The bad news is you can't really prepare for it. As much as we like to be at the forefront of technology, we cannot predict the future (yet).
How should you handle these questions? I would advise you to ignore them unless they relate to a 'celebrity' close to your brand.
For instance, if you are building a presidential campaign chatbot for Hilary Clinton, you better have an answer for 'Do you like Trump?'.
If you are building a pop music chatbot, you might want to have an answer for 'Do you like Michael Jackson?'.
Aside from that, treat these queries as 'out of scope'. Your chatbot is not supposed to know and have an opinion about everyone and everything in the world. Worse than that, your brand is not supposed to have an opinion on everyone in the world (hello PR nightmare).
You are now armed with the five most common 'random' questions your chatbot will face.
When you decide to give your marketing team the automation tool they deserve, don't forget to have an answer for all of them!