Fallback Error Messages: When things don't work out?

Over the years I improved and expanded the general 'catch all' fallback as I found it, well, too general.

I felt that it offered users too little, so I experimented with copy, human agent handover buttons and more.

From some trial and error and general A/B testing , I found that different levels of fallback with helpful guides (to try again) worked best.

I created a guide of the different fallback steps we eventually used on the chatbot platform.

Sample fallback library


In addition to the main fallback types, I utilised Dialogflow's system entities in order to offer some contextual fallback responses.

These covered cases where users entered a name, number, or email with little or no context.
A custom fallback recognises the type of input and offers an appropriate response.

e.g. "Right, that looks like a name..." with button options offering suggested topics. In an airline context, this could mean updating personal details, attempting to find a booking by name or changing a passenger name.                                

Second Opportunity Fallback

In Toby I planned for a 2-step approach, offering users to try again as well as different option buttons to help the user seek further assistance.

To encourage users to try again, a handoff to a human representative is not offered just yet. The NLU was set up in such a way that a second misunderstood utterance would be ignored, allowing a user to try again without the constant interruptions of "I don't understand, I don't understand."    

Dual opportunity fallback

Ultimately, after 3 attempts, the chatbot will respond with an acknowledgement that it was unable to find a response and offer human assistance.

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