Writing content for chatbots can be fun and interesting work. You get to learn lots about different companies and how different 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 is QnA format. You know your clients well enough to know what questions they will answer, so you need to write question and answer pairs.
I have three simple tips to follow when writing content:
1. Never use yes or no in your answers
This is my golden rule for writing chatbot content. Never use 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 to access the application form.
If you had started the above answer with a yes or no, the answer wouldn’t have applied to the “when do applications close?” question.
You want your answer to be broad enough to answer multiple variations of questions.
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 for your chatbot to access the correct response from the knowledge base.
2. Use plain English
Readability levels for any content are important. Many government departments aim for a reading level of 9–10 on the Flesh-Kincaid readability scale. This is the average reading level of Australian adults. As it is important that our customers can read and understand our chatbot content.
So now is not the time to crack open a thesaurus and try to increase your vocabulary. Plain English is the way to go, not only for readability but also for succinct, clear writing.
You can set MS Word to include the Flesch-Kincaid reading level when you have finished using spellcheck. The reading level for this blog post is 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. Cut straight to the message and provide a hyperlink to the relevant page if further information is needed, i.e. extensive eligibility criteria, application forms, return forms etc.
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 are writing a conversation between the chatbot and the consumer, 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.
Katie Poidomani is a Canberra-based content writer and has written chatbot content for tertiary institutions and government.