Dashbot, a chabot analytics company has processed more than 11 billion chatbot messages. Their analytics tools can help businesses figure out what’s working and what’s not when it comes to their chatbots’ interactions with customers. Having analyzed so many chatbot interactions, Dashbot is uniquely positioned to share some insights into what makes a good chatbot and one key feature, they say, is often overlooked in chatbot development politeness.

Hello: the most common message

It shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that greetings like “hello” or “hi” are the most common message sent to chatbots. But what is surprising is the percentage of chatbots who don’t know how to respond to it. Nearly one-third (32%) of chatbots did not respond to a greeting with a greeting of their own. Instead, they responded with some form of “I don’t know” or error message. A small percentage didn’t respond at all. This got customer-bot interactions off to a bad start. Imagine starting off a conversation with a bot like this:

Customer: Hi

Bot: I don’t understand

Asking for help: the second-most common message

After greetings, requests for help were the second most common message sent to chatbots. A full 50% of chatbots failed to respond appropriately to this request. When a customer asks for help, chatbots should be able to, at the very least, provide some suggestions to customers regarding what kinds of things they can assist with or provide direction for getting in contact with a live agent who can help them. A common chatbot-customer interaction might look like this:

Customer: Help

Bot: Sorry, I didn’t get that

Stop: the third-most common message

Many chatbots work by delivering news, weather updates, and live sports information to subscribers. For these bots, messages asking them to stop, or temporarily pause, the stream of messages are quite common. Unfortunately, only 40% of bots who receive a “stop” message actually respond with directions on how to unsubscribe from receiving future messages. Programming a bot to recognize a “stop” or “unsubscribe” request is extraordinarily simple. Bulk SMS services are required by law to allow users to opt-out with a simple “stop” request so adding this functionality to chatbots isn’t asking too much. Allowing a bot to differentiate between a request to stop and a request to pause can reduce opt-outs and help retain users who just need a break from a certain chatbot. Here’s how one “stop” request was handled by a chatbot:

Customer: Stop

Bot: Hi there!

Thanks: the fourth-most common message

When chatbots successfully resolve an issue or answer a question for a customer, some kind of appreciation message like “thanks” is commonly sent. Approximately 40% of chatbots couldn’t acknowledge a “thanks” with a “you’re welcome” or “no problem” instead giving an error or “I don’t know” response:

Customer: Thanks!

Bot: I don’t know what that means

A lesson for chatbot programmers

It’s apparent that programmers are often so caught up in creating a bot to do a specific task effectively, that they forget to program it to recognize and respond to the social niceties that make up everyday speech. Simply creating a bot that can say “hello,” “thanks,” and “you’re welcome” can go a long way in getting customers more excited about using them.