“Good afternoon, this is the chatbot. I do not understand you."

Raymon van Dinter

Last week I was asked if I could create a chatbot to answer frequently asked questions. Besides the fact that it made me very enthusiastic, because we regularly talk about it in our articles, it also made me nervous. A chatbot is quite complex!

A step back ...

Before we continue, it might be helpful to briefly explain what a chatbot actually is. A chatbot is a computer program that can simulate human communication by means of voice or text messages. Due to the explosive developments in the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) we can make these programs increasingly smarter, so that can be used more and more.

My experience

Soon I tried to make a plan for how I would handle this. Would I develop an algorithm myself? I am not averse to programming, but this would take a lot of time. After some web searching I came across Google's DialogFlow. You can create your own virtual employee within fifteen minutes. This employee can learn to perform all kinds of tasks, such as answering frequently asked questions. How, you might think now. By applying language comprehension, the employee can analyze a question and look up the corresponding answer in a question and answer list that you have previously taught the employee.

After creating a virtual employee on the Google Cloud Platform, my job was to teach the employee frequently asked questions. You can use a text file or website as input for this. For convenience, I used a FAQ page from Google myself, although you can use any FAQ page on the internet. After the employee was "trained", I was able to start asking questions. And yes, our new employee is functioning well!


Although the employee responds well to questions that are (almost) asked as they have been taught, our new colleague still finds it difficult to respond to differently formulated questions. In addition, he cannot answer a complex question or a question that he has not yet learned. Ultimately, an employee would have to speak to the customer for this. That is why - in my view - a chatbot is not a replacement for a customer service representative, but rather an addition.

Screenshot of the chat box

Raymon van Dinter is an analyst at ftrprfHe wrote this article in a personal capacity for the theme Robotization

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