Roger Swannell

Tag: chatbot (page 1 of 2)

Customer service chatbot using Freshdesk API

Having built a chatbot that uses the eBay API, and with the idea of a customer service chatbot floating around, I decided to see if I could build a chatbot that uses the Freshdesk API to pull content from the Help Articles into a chat flow to answer queries from customers.

The bot introduces itself as any good bot should, and then asks the customer how it can help.

The buttons that the bot displays are dynamically populated by querying the results from the Freshdesk API to find out what top level categories are available in the Help Articles section on Freshdesk.

When the customer selects the appropriate category the bot dynamically creates buttons again from what is returned by querying the sub-categories in Freshdesk.

And when the customer selects a button the bot will calls the content of the Help Article and displays it in the flow.

The bot then checks if that Help Article is what the customer is looking for. If the customer selects Yes the bot tells the customer that it’s glad and ends the conversation. If the customer selects No, the bot allows the customer to contact a human by raising a ticket in Freshdesk.

The bot is very simple, partly because there aren’t very many Help Articles to pull from, but it demonstrates that using the Freshdesk API to populate the buttons on the fly can work and means that the content only needs to be maintained in Freshdesk and not within the chatbot.

Building skills for building chatbots

Our events team wanted to build a Chatbot as part of the fundraising raising events acquisition journey.

They used the bot society simulator to design the flows and had intended to pay an agency to build the bot. Instead, I spent a couple of hours with one of the team to teach her the basics of building a Chatbot. She picked it up really quickly and built most of the bot in the first day.

Things I learned:
Digital transformation requires giving people the opportunities and space to develop new digital skills. This is more productive and efficient in the long run as it reduces reliance on external (and often costly) resources.

About using bot simulators specifically, beware of falling into the trap of thinking of the Chatbot as a visual interface like a webpage. Chatbots are conversational interfaces and need to be designed more as a two-way interaction then the kind of one-way passive interactions we usually have with screens.

Building something like a Chatbot yourself means you have a greater understanding of how it works, which will be a big help in iterating and improving the bot, puts the organisation in greater control of this and future Chatbots, and gives the team member another skill to go on their CV.

Thinking about a Bucks Mind Guide Chatbot

Buckinghamshire Mind is a local mental health charity that supports people across Buckinghamshire. Last year they created the Bucks Mind Guide, a fantastic resource with helpful links to all kinds of services that can support people with mental health problems.

Bucks Mind Guide Website

So, in my bid to make a chatbot for everything, I started thinking about how I could take the masses of information in the guide and convert it into a conversational experience and build a chatbot. My first thought was that because there was so many options for users to ask about and the bot to provide answers for, it couldn’t use button like most of my other bots and would need to recognise keywords and respond accordingly. I considered using Dialogflow (I used used it a while ago when it was API.AI) to handle picking up the keywords, and may still do so later, but to keep it simple I started with using Labels to pick up the keyword entered by the user and jump to the section of the flow that could provide an answer related to that keyword.

Bucks Mind Guide Chatbot

Now, I just need to add to the number of keywords the bot can respond to, and make the messages more friendly.

Using Cleo, the chatbot that helps you understand your spending

Cleo is an application that connects to your bank account and then provides a Facebook Messenger chatbot for you to get simple information from your account such as current balance. 

As is the point with all chatbots, using Cleo means you can check your balance, find out how much you’ve spent and if you’ve been paid without having to come out of Messenger and open your banking app, try to log-in, realise you can’t remember your customer number, etc., etc.

As Cleo says on it’s website, managing your daily finances should be easy than the banks make it. So, type natural language questions such as ‘How much have I spent at Tesco this week?’ and Cleo will tell you how much, ask Cleo if your wages have been paid and it will tell when your wages were last paid in and how much it was, ask Cleo ‘Where do I spend the most?’ and it will reply with a ranked list of how much you’ve spent this month in each category.

What do I think about it?

Needless to say, but I think Cleo is completely awesome. It is so much easier to use than the app provided by my bank (which I don’t use very much because it doesn’t do very much but will be using even less now). It does a really good job of simple things like balance enquiries, but it also provides insights that are actually useful.

How could it be better?

It could connect to PayPal. It doesn’t currently do this and that is the one big downside to getting a good grip on all of your daily finances.

It could access your account to enable you to perform simple transactions such as paying money to people (which could become a group chat between you, the person you are paying, and Cleo). I realise this is most likely against the terms and conditions of my bank account, and I get the security reasons why Cleo doesn’t do it at the moment but as biometric authentication gets better it’s definitely something I’d like to see.


I’ve been using it for a couple of hours and already have a better understanding of my finances than my bank ever provided me with. Everyone should use Cleo.

Health Help Now should have been a bot

Health Help Now is the NHS’s new website that helps people diagnose symptoms and select the appropriate service to get help, e.g. Pharmacy, GP, A & E.

Given that it uses simple logic to take the visitor through steps to reach a limited number of conclusions it could easily be a bot as well as/instead of a website. Then people could access the service using Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SnapChat, etc.


Copyright © 2018 Roger Swannell

Up ↑