999 Design: Natural Language Chatbot

In the first phase of this project, 999 worked with New Now to deliver a chatbot, using a guided conversation style, that was able to answer tenants’ and landlords’ queries about the new Private Residential Tenancy.

Given the success of the first phase (as reported in Econsultancy), the client wanted to take the project further by

  • Moving to a natural language interface, using Microsoft’s LUIS framework
  • Expanding the areas in which the chatbot could provide advice
  • Integrating with their live web chat provider’s API, to offer a seamless handover to a human operator when the chatbot was unable to help.

This was achieved by designing and refining a language model in LUIS, that was integrated with the chatbot back end in Azure. The interface moved to a conversational flow using textual input rather than simple multiple choice responses.

During the first three months after launch, there were over 6,000 interactions with the chatbot compared to 4,400 users of the existing live chat service over the previous year.

The bot continues to successfully answer queries, freeing up live chat and phone helpline staff to deal with more complex problems.

The project received a Commendation in the Herald Scottish Digital Business Awards 2018, and has been shortlisted for a DBA Design Effectiveness Award.

Visit: https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/newhouserules

999 Design: Natural Language Chatbot