Roger Swannell

Tag: chatbots

Chatbots are one-trick ponies

Are chatbots one-trick ponies?

Yes, yes there are.

And that is exactly how they should be.

When we talk about optimising a web page the discussion includes things like focus the content on one topic, remove distractions, and have a single call to action. Web pages are one-trick ponies and that is exactly how they should be.

A chatbot is simply a conventional interface for surfacing organisational knowledge, in much the same way a web page does in more of a static document form. Chatbots work particularly well when the user’s question or job to be done is too complex to be answered by the content on a web page as chatbots are able to guide the user towards the answer and check understanding in a way that web pages can’t. The more focused a chatbot is on helping the user answer their question, the better service it is providing.

To criticise a chatbot for being too focused misses this point.

ATBAmus Prime’s first conversation 

ATBAmus Prime, the ATBA-UK’s Facebook Messenger bot had it’s first conversation with a real human. It was short, but it worked. 

An instructor wanted to renew their membership so they messaged ATBAmus and selected ‘talk to a human’ from the options and typed their question into messenger. ATBAmus emailed their question to me, which I replied to, and which ATBAmus posted into the chat with the Instructor. 

I assume they chose to contact the ATBA-UK from the message us button on the website, and hopefully it was a more useful experience for them than sending an email using a contact form. 

Interniser Version 2: Productivity 

With version 1 of my Interniser bot deployed to live for the ATBA-UK, I decided to build version 2 to answer my questions about using bots to help with productivity. 

For my MVP Productivity Bot I integrated with ToDoIst, Trello and Freshdesk. I use ToDoIst for task management, Trello for managing the progress and status of projects, and Freshdesk for customer service enquiries so being able to interact with them over Messenger showed me that a bot could be used as a single interface for all of these different systems. 

As this was a quick MVP I only built the integration to add to these systems, but the API between the chatbot and ToDoIst, Trello and Freshdesk allows for much more control. 

The next bot I’m thinking of (Version 3) will be a helper bot and test how bots can be a bit more human and have a long term conversation. 

Relaunching interniser

As I’ve thought more about bots and what they could be used for (pre-diagnosis for the 111 service and getting info about places to visit) I decided to relaunch interniser as a side project to do all my bot projects under. It seems more appropriate than RogSwaBot which would be fine for more personal stuff and which I may still work on. 

I built a quick responsive webpage in html 5 and will get it uploaded once I’ve set up the domain. And I set up the Facebook page so I can connect the webpage to the messenger service. The next stage will be to start building an MVP bot using a simple keyword response system before I move on to learning Python and how to integrate a more complex AI system. 

I don’t know where interniser might go but it should be an interesting side project. 

Copyright © 2019 Roger Swannell

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