One of the most important trends in digital marketing is that of the conversational interface (eg chatbots and voice assistants ) . And, although you can use images, videos and emojis in conversational interfaces, the main element is really written (or spoken) text . But how do you write those interactive texts? Is it a profession apart? Actually. That is why this introduction to writing conversational interfaces. After reading you can get started or write a good briefing for a copywriter. The conversational skills of most chatbots and other applications of conversational interfaces – especially in Dutch – still have a long way to go when it comes to actually ‘understanding’ what exactly we want people to do. The development of Dutch language datasets, artificial intelligence, but certainly also the writing of good scripts plays a role in this; also called conversation design . It is precisely there that there is already a lot to be gained through well-thought-out copywriting. Provide an interface that: clearly indicates what it is meant for; does not repeat itself; has a touch of personality; and the users will thank you. But let’s start at the beginning. What is a conversational (user) interface (often abbreviated as CUI) and do you need it (for the moment) for your organization? What is a conversational interface? Sometimes I do as if I am talking to you while I am writing. But of course it is a monologue. I tell you, and you read or scan the text for useful information. How much finer would it be if we (me and thousands of readers) could really talk to each other? If you can take my knowledge during a conversation and also provide me with useful feedback? In principle, that should be possible with a conversational interface. I stop as much of my knowledge and personality as possible in a piece of software and you can then chat with it or even talk. You do that via a special app on your phone, a smart assistant (eg Google Assistant , Amazon Alexa , Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana ), a chatbot on a website, a message app à la Facebook Messenger or a ‘smart device’ – such as a fridge or a lift. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNuFcIRlwdc When is a conversational interface a good solution? In practice, conversational interfaces are not yet that you can really have a good conversation with them. Do not be afraid that you will soon fall in love with your smart assistant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QRvTv_tpw0 Conversational interfaces are Outdated process But for structured processes they are indeed a solution. For example, a packing aid before you go on vacation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YZUnhSCiNU To pass a damage to your insurance company: When you are looking for a nice gray scarf: Or as an alternative to a FAQ on your website or in an app: The better you frame the tasks of your chatbot, the greater the chance of success. Lowering threshold On average, smartphone owners use 9 apps per day (and 30 per month). Small chance that your app belongs. Chances are that Facebook Messenger is on the list. When you offer a chatbot via Messenger, you lower the threshold to contact. Not required At the same time, it is never a smart idea to offer information or customer service only through a conversational interface. Maybe you can help customers with standard questions a lot faster through a bot, but someone with a different problem just wants a person of flesh and blood on the line. Do not forget that a conversational interface can never achieve as much empathy as a real person. Future of conversation: why is the copy so important? Chatbots and applications for smart speakers do not yet feel very ‘smart’. Yes, a lasagna recipe via Google Home is fun .. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRdDxvCGaZI .. but is it really so much more convenient than a recipe book? However, that is going to change quickly. Thanks to user feedback combined with artificial intelligence, the applications become a lot smarter. Soon you will ask if oregano instead of basil is good for your lasagna and you get a good advice too. And with smarter robots, more people are going to use them. According to this study , 85% of the interactions between consumers and large service providers will already take place via a software robot in 5 years time. Incidentally, it concerns the English language area. I do not dare to make a prediction when Natural Language Processing in Dutch is so far away that you can really have decent conversations with your chatbot. What I do know: companies with a lot of user feedback via chatbots have a head start . And a good script with accompanying copy is currently the way to let your customers talk more with your chatbot and thereby gather more information. It does not matter which platform you use. The feedback on your Facebook Messenger bot is also useful if you later want to develop a conversational interface for your website or a smart speech-driven assistant. Huge shift in how you communicate Finally, perhaps just as well to emphasize: there is a huge shift in your online communication. Where you now often communicate visually with your customers, you will have little to say about that visual aspect when they contact a chat app or smart assistant. So you are suddenly less recognizable by logos colors etc. and should have more of your (unique?) Tone-of-voice. Texts in your unique tone-of-voice? CopyRobin makes it true. Place a free trial A good copywriter for conversational copy Who should you hire to write good copy for your bot? James Joyce once wrote a sentence of 3700 words – Source: Wikipedia First, someone who is short of dust . In a book and even for some online content it is fine if a writer talks extensively about a certain topic, but on a small smartphone screen there is simply no room for it. In addition, someone with experience in dialogue and character development . After all, it is a conversation. This is often less structured than an article with head and tail. Preferably you also want your bot to get a touch of personality. Can empathize with the user very well. Perhaps the most difficult part. You want a writer who uses the right tone-of-voice for your target group and also understands how they will use the bot and create a structured scheme for that. That requires skills that are on the cutting edge of creative writing and UX design. In the future, these will probably become separate roles. At this moment you are looking for someone who at least partially manages both disciplines. Writing a briefing for your copywriter Many of the normal rules for drawing up a good briefing for a copywriter still apply when it concerns a chatbot: Provide background information about your organization. Describe for whom the content is intended. Tell us what goal you want to achieve with the content. Indicate how the content is used. Describe the tone-of-voice you want. Communicate a clear deadline. But the concrete interpretation differs. Moreover, you will deal with other aspects such as: Why a chatbot? What makes this easier for the customer? Which scenario do you want the user to go through ideally? How should the flowchart look rough? What do you do if the chatbot can not answer questions? In all, there is a lot of work involved in writing your briefing. But as always, the better the briefing, the better the result. Reading tip: This is how you make the perfect briefing for a copywriter I pick out a few important points: What purpose does the bot have? It is imperative that your chatbot has a clearly defined goal. The more limited (in the beginning) the better. Also consider which problem the chatbot exactly resolves. For example: it takes my customers too much time to find and fill out Form X What kind of character does the bot have? Especially if you are planning to use the chatbot on an external platform, it is important to think about the character and the tone-of-voice of your bot. That is how you distinguish yourself. Are you going to design an avatar for your bot? Then show this (sketch) to the copywriter. READING: The Humans (and Pixar Characters) Inside Google’s Assistant What does an ideal scenario look like? This is closely related to ‘what problem your bone has to solve’. Indicate what the ideal scenario is (with the individual steps!) In which your customer is helped as quickly or as well as possible. Do you have a simple setup for a flowchart? Example of a simple flowchart – Source: hvdam.com Of course this is the copywriter to explore further, but with a simple setup you help him or her on the road. You can easily write off the decision tree with pen & paper or use a free tool such as Draw.io (via Google Drive) or XMind . Writing the conversational copy Are you going to get started with the copy for your chatbot? Then there are a number of things that you have to take into account: Opening – how does your ‘conversation partner’ get to know your bot? Source: Ikea Three letters and you already know that you are dealing with the Swedish furniture giant. The perfect example of branding through greeting. Consider how you make the voice of the brand sound in the first sentence. Furthermore, you want to know very practically what exactly someone can do with the bot. It is also sympathetic to (if possible) address someone with his name in the greeting. The same opening is always boring. Make up 2 or 3 alternatives. Start the ‘conversation’ Many people are not yet so experienced with chatbots. You want to help them on your way. For example, you can show the three most frequently used options or ask for some information from the user. Source: Newswhip Cosmetic shop Sephora, for example, does that cleverly with a small ‘quiz’ in which you tell a bit more about yourself. The bot remembers that information and then gives you appropriate tips. Only be careful that you do not overload the user with information. Do you want to tell a lot? In any case, make sure that you divide the text into several messages and not into one huge paragraph. A mix of buttons and answers Ideally, you give the user the choice to press buttons with pre-selected answers or to type his own answer. Use of emoji You will find emojis relatively often in chatbots (see above examples of Sephora and Zalando only), often from brands that do not do that on their website. Emoji are a simple way to give your bot more character and emotion. It just does not fit with every target group and branch. With a fashion brand it is fine, with an insurance company it is already a lot trickier. Do not pretend to be a human being Source: ScreenCrush / The Wizard of Oz There are not that many conventions for chatbots, but one thing most conversational copywriters agree: Never pretend to be a human being. This will ultimately only cause disappointments. Therefore indicate clearly that users are dealing with a chatbot. Reading tip: Making a blog: doing it yourself or outsourcing? What if you can not answer? During the research for this article I started playing around with Dutch bots. In one case there was also a concrete reason for this: My insurer sent me mail about their caravan insurance. Now I do not have a caravan at all and no need for advertising by mail. Time to enable Central Management Bot: Now I have been a bit faint by using words like ‘toppie’, ‘the last’ and ‘call’, but there are always customers who formulate in a way that the bot does not understand. What Centraal Beheer does well is to refer the user to another contact option. What Centraal Beheer can do better is to add buttons with options and not repeat themselves. The importance of your last message Do not forget to close the conversation in a nice way. Even if you have not been able to help someone properly. Again, you can write a few variants. Testing, testing, testing For software developers, this is a piece of cake, but writers may be less accustomed: have your chatbot tested by very different people! This is the only way to find out what works and what does not work. Which tools can you use? There are a lot of tools to design conversations with, although the support for the Dutch language is much more limited. One of the most promising tools is the DialogFlow purchased by Google. With this you can also create Dutch chatbots for Google Assistant, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Slack, among others. I experimented with Chatfuel myself . Standard questions that get a bot about itself – Source: Dialogflow In Dialogflow you also have many useful standard templates with pre-built chatbots (eg smalltalk, making reservations at a restaurant, ordering food in the catering industry, looking for events, FAQ). At the time of writing these are not yet available in Dutch, but you can of course translate the questions / answers. Leestip: writing SEO texts: you take it smartly The future: AI Copywriting Human language remains a difficult note to crack for algorithms. We start phrases and switch halfway again or wait .. I mean basically: there is often no logic whatsoever in how we talk. Nevertheless, chances are that conversational interfaces will understand our questions a lot better in the next 10 years. On the one hand, you have internet giants such as Google and Amazon that, thanks to huge amounts of data and extensive research teams, can best deal with Natural Language Processing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNvT5JekDpg On the other hand, people will also become more skilled in dealing with Conversational Interfaces (as we have also become more useful in Googling or Social Media use). As an average Dutch company, you do not have much influence on these two developments. On writing good chatbotcopy does. Or to paraphrase an arbitrary politician driven by journalists: You are talking about the questions, but I am talking about the answers. Conclusion Conversational interfaces are promising but at the moment they still have many pitfalls: Chatbots that create too high expectations. Speak in a boring or repetitive way. What is not clear what you can do with it. With the tips from this article you ensure good copy (eg personal greeting, showing key options, sending the conversation, testing, alternating answers) so that users do not drop out as quickly. And with that, the basis of your conversational interface is at least like a house. Web texts problematic? CopyRobin helps. Place a free trial Let’s block ads! (Why?)

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