Tommy the Help For Heroes AI Chatbot

A web-based AI chatbot designed for Hero for Heroes

Help for Heroes chatbot welcome view

Key Facts

Objective

Like many companies and organisations over the past year the Covid 19 pandemic changed their customer support demands. There was a need to improve customer support via the Help For Heroes website. A chatbot was needed to help website visitors find the correct information and provide a frictionless way of providing the right support information for their patrons.

Customer

Help for Heroes

help for heroes logo

Application

  • Domain specific FAQ
  • Information provision
  • Website support

Integration

Help for Heroes public facing website

The Project

Introduction

Help for Heroes is a UK-based charity that helps injured and sick veterans and their families. Help for heroes approached us to discuss their idea for a chatbot project.

Because of the lockdown in 2020, a lot of the face-to-face activities Help For Heroes were doing with veterans had to stop. More and more of them were coming to https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/ and we had a challenge with navigation.

We wanted the ability to direct people in a quick, effective, and easy manner.

The other challenge we had was with our supporter care team. They were getting quite a lot of phone calls, asking questions about the site. We wanted to free up their time by making the site content a bit more accessible.

After a bit of analysis and research, we came to the idea that a site bot was what we needed. We spoke to quite a few suppliers and eventually chose The Bot Forge.
Jamie Walker – Marketing Director, Help for Heroes

Brief

Help For Heroes wanted a website ai chatbot which could be easily added to the www.helpforheroes.org  website.

The ai chatbot needed to provide a responsive mobile friendly interface. Utilising free text and rich UI elements to aid conversation flow and offer meaningful and accurate responses.

Help for Heroes requested that the chatbot’s persona was to be helpful, upbeat and be called Tommy.

The primary use-case’s for the chatbot are:

  • To answer customer queries on the Help For Heroes website
  • Provide a clear frictionless route for website visitors looking for support from Help For Heroes

Common FAQs

The chatbot should be able to respond to the more common domain specific questions related to Help For Heroes, concentrating on the following areas:

Chatbot answering faqs

  • Getting Support
  • Donating
  • Volunteering
  • Fundraising
  • Shop
  • Careers
  • Contact Details

Answering these questions the chatbot would be able to provide it’s own succinct answers and/or point to the correct page on the www.helpforheroes.org.uk website.

Customer: I would like to Do my own challenge
Chatbot: If you would like to "do your own thing" we have all of that information here...

Multi-turn enquiries

Other key areas of information which the chatbot needed to concentrate on was to provide support information and most importantly contact details.

FAQs answered by a chatbot

If a veteran asks for support via a free text question or clicks the support chip, then Tommy will ask if they are looking for immediate support and answer differently depending on whether the response is yes or no and then follows up with further questions dependent on answers provided.

User: Support
Tommy: Please remember I am a Chatbot, not a human, and your messages cannot be saved. For immediate support in an emergency, please call 999.
Tommy: Are you looking for immediate or emergency support today?
User: Yes
Tommy: If you need immediate support, you can call the Samaritans free of charge on.....

The focus of the chatbot was to be usability. With effective conversational handling and always an easy provision for users to contact the Help For Heroes team if necessary.

This was particularly important in providing an easy route to support access for veterans.

For the majority of the interactions with the chatbot, Tommy would follow up with a courtesy question to ensure the enquiry has been successful. If the response is no then Tommy provides further contact details.

Our approach

Requirements and data collection

Fact finding sessions helped us to scope the high level chatbot functional requirements. Help For Heroes provided us with user enquiry data from their teams. We collaborated on our chatbot script spreadsheet to flesh out the intents and training phrases needed to answer the more common questions; concentrating on the key areas:

Tommy was also fed with some of our standard customer support training data. Providing common customer support intents: requests to contact the team, to speak to a real person or handle complaints are supported by 100s of training data sentences from our canned datasets.

Conversational design and chatbot training

For the more complex multi turn enquiries we handed over to our conversation designers to streamline the chatbot responses and map conversational flows.

Training the data was an iterative process. Matching user intents to core functionality and features and training the natural language processor to understand users and handle conversation failure scenarios gracefully.
You can read more about how we run our chatbot projects here.

The PDF documents and training data was invaluable for perfecting the chatbot conversations. The process highlights the need to monitor the chatbot as part of a continuous cycle of continuous learning.

Adrian was fantastic in explaining and managing the work. We’ve used Google Docs to collaborate, but this was a straightforward project.

There was no need for Asana or other big project management tools. We’d have probably spent more time loading things into something like that than actually getting them done.

That’s what I liked about The Bot Forge: there was no fluff in the cost, timeline, or anything else. The time we paid for went into actually building the bot, and it’s going into improving it on an ongoing basis, rather than into account or project management on their side.

Jamie Walker
Marketing Director

The Solution

Solution

Technology

Tommy is an ai chatbot. The natural language understanding technology we used for this project was the Dialogflow ES platform. As Google Dialogflow specialists this was the natural choice for this type of chatbot project. Leveraging machine learning Tommy can get better over time as more intents and utterances are added to the machine learning model which powers Tommy. Which means he can get smarter!

Chatseer provides the analytics and chatbot monitoring platform. Allowing our client to extract the relevant chatbot usage metrics and our team to maximise the chatbots effectiveness as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Conversational ability

Tommy can handle 200 + separate intents (separate enquiries) with multiple training phrases(utterances) for each one of these. Some intents can be answered simply whilst others needed a more complex approach to the conversation.

Tommy remembers context and leverages entity extraction, asking further questions to provide more relevant answers and using free text and rich UI elements to point the user in the right direction.

The chatbot also provides Smalltalk and automatic spelling correction.

Customer experience

The key as always to a awesome chatbot experience is handling fall-backs gracefully and providing the functionality to hand over to human operators as needed.

Fall-back mechanisms are in place for misunderstood intents to enable changing responses so users don’t get the unfortunate repeat response which plagues many inferior bots “sorry I don’t understand the question”. Instead, the chatbot changes its responses over 3 turns providing other options.

Chatbot management

Training is ongoing with the Tommy chatbot Leveraging machine learning we are constantly improving responses and adding new ones so that he is always getting smarter.

Persona

Tommy has a helpful persona with an informal personality which works well with the subject matter and his role of Help For Heroes automated assistant.

The Results

I’m really pleased with the bot and services we’re getting from The Bot Forge. Since we started working with Adrian, he completely lived up to his promises. The end-to-end process has been very slick.

On average, we’re having 15-18 people per day engaging with the bot. This isn’t just opening it up, but actually typing a question or pressing one of the preset buttons. We’re really pleased with how it’s going.

Jamie Walker
Marketing Director

So far the feedback from Help For Heroes has been fantastic. Tommy is working hard to answer any questions he is asked. The key thing to remember is that Tommy is powered by machine learning and so will improve over time with regular training.

What does the future hold for Tommy? We may investigate adding voice input capabilities; which will make for one advanced automated assistant!

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