Imagine you get invited to one of your best friends' party. It is a familiar setting and you know most people. You make the rounds, shake hands and exchange pleasantries. Then you make your way to the next person, someone you see once a year at this particular birthday – let's say Lisa – and you want to ask how she has been.
But then Lisa reaches her hand and says:
We have all been there. You had a long chat about all sorts of things before, and somehow the other person completely forgot. It makes you feel invisible, insecure and unrecognized, and that is of course not how you want to feel. You deserve much better. But it is not your fault: Lisa simply needs to learn to design for frequency.
What is designing for frequency?
If you are designing conversations for a chatbot or voice assistant, then you will have frequent users. These are people that reach out to your service quite often and get more familiar with the experience. You do not have to explain everything to them each and every time. So, in terms of conversation design, designing for frequency means designing conversations for returning users.
Why you need to adjust the conversational experience
It works the same in the offline world. When you have a favorite restaurant, the first time the waiter may walk you through the entire menu. But as you start coming back more often, you are being recognized and the waiter only shares important updates and changes to the menu. The exchange will be more service-oriented and there is more room for engagement – not just the transaction of going through the menu and ordering food.
It is the same with conversational experiences. The first time your chatbot might say:
For a first engagement, this is totally fine. We do not know what this virtual assistant is capable of, so it makes sense for it to give us a break down of the options. Good job, Derek!
But imagine getting this elaborate introduction each time you open the chat. You do not want to get the fool introduction, you just want to order a meal. It becomes frustrating very quickly.
For your frequent users, it makes more sense to change the introduction a little bit. This way we are not sharing information that the user already has, and we turn it into a more engaging experience.
So to the frequent user we might say: