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Communities of practice

Communities of practice

Chat bot and virtual assistant examples

There are probably a number of examples of chat bots / virtual assistants being used in government websites such as Alex at ATO

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Just wondering if there are guidelines being used to develop these assets, in terms of:

  • the types of customer/client/user interactions designed to deal with

  • the ‘persona’ or ‘character’ that the chat bot or virtual assistant embodies

  • the nature of the ‘conversation’ or interaction that it provides

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a simple guideline due to the breadth of options and what you’re hoping the CUI to do. I know that we’ve been looking at the Microsoft conversational style guides to assist with the way are looking at our interactions with users and looking at a ‘dumb’ chatbot, where it is essentially a Q/A style conversation due to privacy and legal reasons, we don’t want provide bad advice (if we went with a proper AI style CUI)

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Maybe it is not so much a guideline on what to do (since it would, as you say, be rather context sensitive), but I would say that a ‘what definitely not to do’ checklist would be valuable (e.g. importance of considering uncanny valley in both visual and behavioural characteristics).

I know there has been some success in setting the expectations from the get go (i.e. in the introduction/greetings “Hi i’m a digital assistant here to help you XYZ”. Some areas have also dabbled in certain trigger words that immediately results in an X response (i.e. could be around mental health issues). I would definitely match the conversation with your style (e.g. we’re not having a ‘overly friendly’ one due to the legal terminology/complexity of what we are answering but due to the overwhelming number of chatbots providers and users, what is bad for one group is good for another - there could be people wanting users to think their chatbot is real! I think as long as you set those expectations, the can/vs can’t say is up to you (within legal reason haha)

Recently I’ve been considering putting a few thoughts together on this topic as a bit of an intro. As much to organise my own thinking as anything else. I was thinking about the nature of the intended conversation you are hoping to support and the underlying tech which is probably quite narrow. I haven’t done it yet - let me know if that sounds useful, or if its something anyone may want to develop together.

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Yes, that would be really useful. I think some thoughts in terms of the underlying considerations or design philosophy that is relevant to most use cases. Some combination of how to apply the visual, content and behavioural aspects of CUI (conversational user interfaces) and AI/chatbot to business/user/technical requirements.

Just spotted another one on Service Victoria’s website the other day:

For those interested in exploring this further with other agencies using chatbots/conversational user interfaces, the DTA’s next conversational user interface community of practice has been scheduled. You can register by visiting: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/conversational-user-interface-community-of-practice-feb-2020-registration-93444299415

We hope to see some of you there!

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