We’re at one of the most pivotal periods since the beginning of human dialogue. With artificial intelligence (AI) powering chatbots and voice assistants, we’re now teaching human brains how to communicate with artificial brains. When designing conversations, you need to understand the needs of both humans and machines and ensure the dialogue is helpful, natural and persuasive.
When writing dialogue for a chatbot or voice assistant, there are key things to follow. Here are the best practices for conversation design for chatbots and voice assistants.
5 Strategies for Engaging Conversation Design
1. Start with a great introduction.
Introductions should be kept short and serve as a way to let the user know what you can help them with (don’t over-explain, but set expectations). Avoid using phrases like “I’m still learning” and avoid being arrogant with phrases like “smart virtual assistant.”
You will also want to create different introductions for returning users who will already be familiar with the capabilities. Never try to pass off a bot as a human agent.
Example: Hi, I’m Stella, the Sullivan Clothing virtual assistant. I can help you track your order, start a return or answer product questions. So, what can I help you with?
2. Write compelling and clear prompts.
Prompts let a person know that it’s their turn to speak and give input. It’s good practice to use question marks with prompts as it’s a clear indicator that it’s the user’s turn. Always end the message with a prompt (don’t add additional information after) and avoid combined questions and instead ask multiple simple questions.
Example: Let’s track your order. Are you looking for the order placed on September 13?
3. Use Implicit and Explicit Confirmations to ensure the conversation is moving in the right direction.
Use implicit and explicit confirmations to give users the chance to correct the chatbot in the case that wrong intent was triggered. Explicit intents ask the user for confirmation. Whereas an implicit intent keeps the conversation moving forward, but the bot does restate the user’s request. This gives the user an opportunity to correct the bot.
Explicit Intent Example: You would like me to initiate a return, is that correct?
Implicit Intent Example: I’ll start your return now. What’s your order number?
4. Use acknowledgments to have more natural conversation.
To help your users feel like you’re listening to them, use acknowledgments like “Alright,” “Sure,” or “Got it.” It’s a way to build trust and make the conversation natural. You’ll want to make sure to add variety and not use the same acknowledgment again and again.
Example: Got it. So you’d like to return the sweater because it’s too small?
5. Focus on the user, not the bot.
You want to be as user-centric in your writing as possible. Limit talking with “I” and “me,” and focus more on “you.”
Example: What would you like to know? vs. I’m an expert in fall fashion trends.
Conversation design is a science.
People communicate differently, so too do chatbots. And good conversation design is critical to the success of a chatbot and user engagement. When designing dialogue for chatbots and voice assistants, it’s important to understand both the needs of humans and bots. Write dialogue that is natural, similar to how a conversation would be had amongst friends, and less robotic. Understand the technical limitations, what information a bot needs from a user to complete a task, and always have human escalation, whether it’s direct handoff or call / email back.
Can we help you to design a helpful and engaging conversation? Get in touch with our expert conversation designers today.
Service desk platforms – also called agent desks – help companies enhance the customer experience, scale conversations across multiple channels and reduce customer service costs. Two of the most established ticket management software platforms – and often compared platforms, too – in this space are Zendesk vs Freshdesk. Both are used by hundreds of thousands of companies around the world as customer support software and help desk software service solutions.
Both offer a suite of sophisticated features, some are the same and some different, that help agents resolve issues faster and also make support easier and more convenient for customers. The platforms are highly reviewed and rated on G2: Freshdesk rates 4.4/5 stars with 2,482 reviews and Zendesk Support Suite rates 4.3/5 stars with 3,267 reviews (at the time of publishing). So, what’s right for you: Zendesk or Freshdesk?
In this post we’re diving into everything you need to know about Zendesk vs Freshdesk including features, pricing, customers, customization and more. After reading this post, you’ll be able to figure out if Zendesk or Freshdesk would work better for your company.
Zendesk: Everything you need to know
Zendesk is one of the most well-known and established help desk platforms. It has over 160,000 customers, including some of the largest enterprise brands in the world such as Siemens, Uber, Instacart and Polaris. It’s targeted at high-growth and enterprise companies that need sophisticated features, and because of this, is the more expensive option. More than just a help desk, Zendesk can help companies manage the entire customer experience – bringing marketing and support together into one platform.
Zendesk enables customers to deliver a consistent experience across multiple channels and provide agents with a unified workspace to manage and even collaborate on conversations. The platform gives agents a 360-degree view of customer data so context can be carried forward (similar capabilities are available on Freshdesk). This has a major impact on the customer service KPIs: on average, Zendesk increases customer satisfaction by 25% and agent productivity by 30%1.
Key Features of Zendesk
Zendesk Ticket Management
The ticketing system on Zendesk consolidates all of your tickets into a single platform – including from social media, email, chat, in-app support, phone, and the web. It boasts features including ticket routing and assigning tickets to the right agent. According to one review, this feature makes an impact: “the built-in intelligent routing ensures appropriate customer-to-agent fit and automates ticketing queues to reduce resolution time2..”
Leveraging the Zendesk platform, you will never lose a request as each ticket, regardless of channel, is entered into a queue for agents to pick up.
Zendesk Knowledge Base
Zendesk is one of the best knowledge base software platforms that is self-service via customizable and user-friendly. This lets your customers find the answers to their questions via an online help center without needing to interact with an agent, and essentially deflecting tickets. These intuitive help centers can be deployed on mobile or Web via a simple SDK.
Apps and Integrations
The Zendesk marketplace has over 1,250 apps and out-of-the-box integrations including Zendesk chatbots to automate conversations, productivity tools, time tracking, collaboration and customer surveys. These Zendesk apps amplify the power of the platform and many can be implemented with a single click.
Zendesk offers a variety of pricing plans based on the number of agent seats you need, channels, and access to features like the self-service Zendesk Knowledge Base. At the time of this post, the most basic plan starts at $49 / month / agent and this increases to $215 / month / agent for the most robust enterprise plans. Though Zendesk does not offer a free tier, it does have a free trial.
Zendesk allows you to customize all reports and graphs, as well as chat colors, text, logos, and branding. Views within the Zendesk dashboard can be “extensively customized to your preferences as well—an area in which Freshdesk tried to do something similar, but we preferred the way Zendesk Support shows the information, including ticket expiration times.”
Zendesk Reports and Data Analysis
Zendesk offers a suite of beautifully-designed reports to help you measure the success of your customer support operations. You can quickly identify areas that require improvement, and areas of development for your agents. The best part? You can track your performance against best practice metrics so you can see how you’re performing.
Security is core to the Zendesk platform. The company is SOC 2 Type II, ISO and FedRAMP LI-SaaS compliant.
Hear how AI can improve the customer experience in this webinar featuring Greg Dreyfus from Zendesk.
A complete guide to Freshdesk
Freshdesk is a top Zendesk alternative and might be the better option if you’re looking for a simple, more affordable option. Over half of the reviews on G2 come from small companies, but that’s not to say that larger companies don’t also use Freshdesk.
The platform is used by over 50,000 brands, including Bridgestone, HP, Harvard University and DHL to improve customer service. While Zendesk has a broader lens of the entire customer experience, Freshdesk is more narrowly focused on customer support (although it can be integrated with other Freshworks products).
The platform is touted for its usability and you can get set up in just a few minutes. According to one review, “Freshdesk is easy to set up and get started. It has the quickest go-to-market deployment, even when considering novice users3.”
Key Features of Freshdesk
Freshdesk Ticket Management
The Freshdesk ticketing system lets you close tickets faster with a centralized inbox that brings in tickets from multiple channels (email, phone, web, chat and social) Tickets are assigned to agents in a few ways – skill-based, load balancing and round robin – and agents can collaborate on tickets in real-time. It is the only platform to provide in-app notifications to agents if a ticket status changes or a customer responds, and canned responses help to provide consistent responses to common questions. The platform has unique tools like a “Thank you detector” which prevents reopening of tickets when customers respond with a thank you.
Freshdesk Knowledge Base and Self Service
Sometimes customers want to help themselves and Freshdesk boasts a suite of self-help tools. One such tool is a fully-customizable Knowledge Base (or help center) which can be accessed on your website, mobile app or even chat. Another form of customer self service is community forums, which allows your users to ask each other.
While not as robust as the Zendesk marketplace, Freshdesk has an app store with over 800 pre-built integrations including productivity, remote work, file sharing and collaboration tools.
Freshdesk Reports and Data Analysis
Freshdesk users can make data-based decisions by accessing a variety of reports, including ticket volume trends, agent performance, group performance, satisfaction surveys, customer sentiment, etc.
Freshdesk offers a variety of pricing plans from FREE (Yes, free!) to high-growth companies ($15 month / agent) all the way up to enterprise plans starting at $79 / month / agent (pricing at the time of publication). Plans vary based on features, channels and integrations available, but they have done a good job of providing tremendous value in every tier based specifically on the stage of your business. According to one review, “Even on the [basic and free] plan, there aren’t many restrictions [when it comes to features4.”
Freshdesk offers a large number of ways you can customize your experience. You can brand your entire help desk to align with your company’s branding, choosing the style or color of elements of your portal, or selecting from a library of plug-and-play “FreshThemes.” You can also have your portal built in over 40 languages and even map your Freshdesk domain to your own support URL.
Like Zendesk, Freshdesk has rigorous security controls and is GDPR, HIPPA, SOC and ISO compliant.
Get 5 strategies for successful customer service automation in this webinar featuring Rajiv Ramanan from Freshworks.
Zendesk vs Freshdesk Feature Comparison
Suite Team ($49/agent/month)
Suite Growth ($79/agent/month)
Suite Professional ($99/agent/month)
Suite Enterprise ($150/agent/month)
Suite Enterprise Customization ($215/agent/month)
Free plan with unlimited agents which includes:
Email & Social Ticketing
Ticket Trend Report
Help Center Messaging
Customer context – Agents get access to order history, web activity and loyalty status
Conditional and Custom Ticket Fields
Agent Collision Detection
Help desk automation
Triggers that initiate a workflow based on changes in a ticket
Agent Collision Detection
Ticket Field Suggester
Custom Ticket Status
Thank You Detector
Help desk automation
Light agents: Give limited permissions to certain agents who can provide subject matter expertise and advice via private comments.
Side conversations: Enable agents to bring in other people from internal and external teams to collaborate.
CCs and followers: Include both Carbon Copy (CCs) and Followers fields.
Team Huddle: Discuss specific parts of tickets with experts from across your company.
Shared Ownership: Share ownership of tickets with other teams.
Linked Tickets: Link related tickets together to keep track of widespread issues.
Parent-child Ticketing: Resolve complex issues by splitting them into smaller child tickets.
How to leverage AI to get even more value from Zendesk and Freshdesk
Companies using chatbots for customer service can further enhance the CX experience. While ticket management platforms like Zendesk and Freshdesk streamline the agent experience tremendously and decrease resolution time, AI chatbots like Netomi are now acting as the first line of defense when tickets come in. Netomi’s virtual agents sit alongside human agents to supplement and enhance live chat support teams.
Once you get clarity on this decision comparing Zendesk vs Freshdesk, the Netomi AI takes the best course of action with every incoming ticket:
For highly repeatable tickets, the AI can automatically resolve it without having to loop in a human agent
For more complex tickets, the AI can gather information from the customer or back-end systems, and even draft a response for review, before handing off to a human agent
For the most complex tickets, the AI can summarize and route tickets to the right agent
By leveraging the out-of-the-box Netomi virtual agent integration, companies enhance both the agent and customer experience while also reducing costs. Most other chatbots don’t sit natively within the agent desk, but with Netomi, virtual and human agents work alongside each other, creating the most efficient customer service team that we’ve ever seen.