Short introduction: I’m Jerry Udensi, CTO of a Nigerian-Malaysian tech company: Lyshnia Limited. Prior to working full time with Lyshnia (a company I founded in 2013 with my elder brother), I worked in the AI industry in Malaysia and Singapore. I have built Natural Language AI systems for large corporations such as Allianz SE, and Insurance Technology for companies like Malaysia’s Insuradar Sdn.
The reason for my short introduction is to show you my background in building AI powered systems. Natural Language Processing is a field I’ve actively been in for over 3 years now so you’d think building a Transactional Chat Bot that sells only 10 products shouldn’t be an issue for me right? Well you’d be right if the customers were people who read.
In the paragraphs to follow, I will highlight what I’ve learnt building and maintaining Jane B(Just another Non-Existent Bot) which attends to approx. 1000 customers every day.
Many Nigerians DO NOT Read
There’s this old saying that goes “if you want to hide something from a Black Man, put it in a book”. Unfortunately, this is the case with over 70% of the Customers who used the bot.
When you first message the bot, it greets you, let’s you know that you’re chatting with a Bot, then gives you 4 options to choose from.
5 out of 10 people ignore the initial message and go ahead to write what they want, 2 out of 10 people would read but not understand and therefore reply confusedly like in the image below:
For the 5 who initially ignored the Menu message, we automatically resend the message, and 4 out of 5 would go on to reply appropriately, while 1 of 5 would complain of how stressful the process is and probably never chat again.
Trending Bot Articles:
Many Nigerians DO NOT follow instructions
Yes, we get it. You live in France, but do you want it Delivered or will you Pick it up? (some customers send people in to do a pick up for them)
Jane has been simplified to understand even incorrect English, and giving the customers hints on how to reply, yet a lot of those who chat her simply ignore instructions, and rather type a thousand words than one that Jane would understand.
You would think it’ll be easier and less stressful for customers to simply reply “1” rather than type out “I want to make an order”, but no. Chat after chat, you will realise a lot of people are saying unnecessary things before or after their actual intention. For Chat Bot providers, this can be a nightmare because the Chat Bot asked a question and is listening for a Natural Language answer which is very hard to predict if the users response is in line with your desired answer.
Even for a human, it is hard to understand another humans intentions when spoken out of context
For the Chat above, the Bot was asking the user to confirm the items she wants to buy, but the user instead replies saying where they live. Totally out of context.
Humans love Instant gratification
Getting instant replies is a drug people are addicted to. Customers are told that this is a chat bot which only takes orders and track orders, then given another number to chat for consultancy to speak to a human. Yet, they keep coming back just minutes later to complain to the Bot that they’re not getting responses there.
Something else I noticed while analysing the chat response times is that the Customers get so hooked on the instant replies that if at any point, the chat bot delays their response for even just 1 minute they start asking why they’re not getting any response.
On the good side, customer who read and follow the short and simple instructions are able to place their orders in less than 2 minutes from a platform their comfortable with (WhatsApp) while feeling like they’re chatting with a human.
We as Humans need to do better. Thank you.
Don’t forget to give us your 👏 !
My Experience Building a WhatsApp Chat Bot for a Nigerian Company was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.