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3 tips to writing better chatbot content

Cartoon of a chatbot holding a speech bubble

Writing content for chatbots can be fun and interesting work. You get to learn lots about different companies and their users and how difference each chatbot framework is.

If you’re looking to start writing content for chatbots it’s a great job if you like writing short, clear text. Writing for chatbots means including as much information as necessary with as few words as possible.

One form of chatbot writing in a QnA format. You know your clients well enough to know what questions with ask, so you can write useful question and answer pairs.

I have 3 simple tips to follow when writing content:

  1. Never use yes or no in your responses

This is my golden rule for writing chatbot content. Never use the words yes or no as part of the answer. Why? People have different ways of asking questions and some answers you write will be able to answer more than one question. By using a yes/no response you immediately limit your response to a very specific question, which when asked differently could provide your customer with the wrong answer.

i.e. Q: Is there a closing date? When do applications close?

A: Applications are open year-round. Visit our How to apply page for instructions on how to apply and access the application form.

If you had started the above question with a yes or no, the answer wouldn’t have applied to the “when of applications close?” question.

You want your answers to be broad enough to answer multiple variations of the question.

This is also important, depending on what platform your chatbot is on and what you have the confidence score measure set at. The higher the confidence score the less opportunity of your chatbot to access the correct response from the knowledge base.

2. Use plain language

Readability level for any content are important. Many government departments aim for a reading level of 7 on the Flesh-Kincaid readability scale. This is the average reading level of Australian adults. It’s important that our customers can read and understand out content.

So now is not the time to crack open a thesaurus to try and improve your vocabulary. Plain language is the way to go, not only for readability for also for succinct, clear writing.

You can set MS Word to include the Flesh-Kincaid reading else when you finished using spellcheck. The reading for this blog post in 8.8.

3. Be succinct and refer to other sources where necessary

People use a chatbot as a quick way to get the information they need, rather than reading pages of web text. So brevity is important. Keep your writing short and sharp. There is no beginning, middle and end when writing for chatbots. Just the middle. Just straight to the message and provide a link to the relevant page if more information is needed.

Also, now is the time to use contractions. Can’t, don’t, I’d, you’d are all better use of limited space than cannot, do not, I would and you would. They are also easier to read (see point 2).

Remember, you’re writing a conversation between the chatbot and the user, it should be friendly, informative and brief.

Have fun, hopefully you get to work on different chatbot projects with different personas and flex your writing muscle.