Error Escalating Prompts

What I often I see in a lot of automated systems, including virtual assistants is the lack of escalation on dialog error prompts. For example, I was interacting with a bot some time ago and when I said something out of context, it just responded with, “Sorry I’m not smart enough!”


First of all, never acknowledge you’re stupid. It’s OK to acknowledge you don’t know the answer but admitting you’re “not smart enough” is too much; even for a bot.

Here’s a way for dealing with escalating error prompts:

System:  Thanks for calling. How can I help you?
Caller:    Uhhhhhhh
System:  You can say – get order status, account information, or just say – it’s something else.
Caller:    Get order status
System:  OK – what’s the order number? If you don’t have it, just say – I don’t have it.

Simple eh? So not sure why a lot of these bots and systems miss this. A great user experience happens when you take the user back on track by guiding them.


Now you don’t have to give all the details right away. There’s another approach known as rapid re-prompt. This approach doesn’t give away all the details but instead the response is given with something simple, such as, “I’m sorry?”.  Here’s an example:

System: Tell me your date of birth.
Caller:  Well…
System: I’m sorry?

The disadvantage as you know is that the user is not getting all the information in details. The best place to use this is during open-ended prompts, such as ‘How can I help you?’ and the user is often not considering this as an error.




16 Comments on “Error Escalating Prompts”

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