JANINEBOT - The Ghostbusters AI Chatbot
SECRETARY. BOOKWORM. RACQUETBALL PLAYER. ROMANTIC.
The brief of the final project of my course, Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction was to create "something" that people in the Ghostbusters universe would find useful. The only limitation that my professor, Dr. Jennifer Golbeck posed was that every assumption we make about our target audience had to hold true in the Ghostbusters universe. I had a great time working on this project.
The Real Ghostbusters combat supernatural disasters and protect people from vicious entities. They don’t have the time or capacity to take calls, schedule appointments or listen to the protracted tales of frightened people. Despite being hired for these tasks, Janine has been forced to take up a Ghostbusters uniform to bail the guys out of trouble on numerous occasions.
Finding a secretary who empathizes with the clients, takes good notes about paranormal incidents, maintains a record of the clients for accounting purposes, and doesn’t distract Dr.Egon is crucial to their business.
An automated conversational agent that is the augmentation of Janine, not a replacement. A recent study showed that 80% of customer queries have been resolved by chatbots without human supervision. By being fed information regularly by Janine and Slimer (for tips about psychokinetic energy, general food habits of entities etc.), the bot can answer level-1 questions and ensure fast access to information for incoming clients.
JanineBot can serve the purpose of a secretary who can respond to incoming clients quickly and allow an immediate call-to-action. Clients see the ad for JanineBot on Facebook so by signing up from their profile, their public information is immediately available to the Real Ghostbusters, for emergency and accounting purposes.
Tasks Within the System
Reach out to report ghost sightings directly from the chat screen
Request appointments (in-person/Skype) with the Real Ghostbusters
Receive tips and answers to level-1 questions about paranormal entities
Learn more about the people who are a part of the Real Ghostbusters
Interactive prototype: JanineBot on Botsociety
(with multiple iterations starting at stage 2)
User Population Analysis
A recent Gallup poll stated that “sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for American adults under 50”. Keeping this in mind, people in the age group of 18-50 years, who use text messages and social media to stay connected to the world are the target audience.
Only 5 percent of Facebook’s global user base is not accessing the platform via a mobile device. Therefore, the chatbot is integrated with the Facebook Messenger platform.
According to the British Psychological Society, people actively share their life through social media posts, especially if there’s an aspect of novelty to it. So it is safe to assume that a user’s first instinct upon spotting paranormal activity will be to take photos/videos to share with their social media network. By including JanineBot in this mix, users can start reporting incidents directly to the Real Ghostbusters.
In order to find the right problems to solve, it was important to understand people’s reaction to various scenarios. So I created an empathy map that captures the motivations of people who seek out the Real Ghostbusters.
Empathy Map Based on Season 1-5 of Ghostbusters
In order to start building the chatbot, I designed a framework for it.
The Bot Scope
I limited the scope of conversation with this bot by including a set of options that the user can choose from. Ensuring that the user understands the scope of the bot felt imperative to the process of getting potential customers accustomed to conversing with JanineBot.
The Chatbot Personality
Janine Melnitz has a defined character. Using her persona in a conversation with the user would make the exchange less robotic. So JanineBot is flirty, sassy and a bookworm.
To help create a brand voice, ensure consistency of spellings and grammar, and to keep information supplied by Janine and Slimer up to date, I created a content spreadsheet. As long as this document is updated regularly, a machine learning tool like Rasa will be able to extract the data from the sheet and import it into the chatbot.
An example snippet of the spreadsheet
Laying out the tasks in the form of a flow chart helped me understand the scope of the conversation flow. Allowing people to work on it was useful to tweak the design for the high fidelity prototype.
The in-class quantitative evaluation on JanineBot was very insightful.
Method: Usability Testing
Document: JanineBot Usability Analysis
The usability evaluation began with questions to determine if the participant was within the scope of the intended audience of JanineBot.
Do you use Facebook Messenger?
Do you have FB Messenger on your mobile device?
How often do you check your mobile device in a day (~hours)?
Do you always have your phone on you?
Would you rather reach out to customer care representatives over text or call?
Find the different activities that JanineBot can do
Book an appointment with the Ghostbusters in early January
Upload details of a paranormal sighting
Out of the five participants who tested the prototype, two had some difficulty with the process.
All five participants were comfortable using a rule-based chatbot to communicate
Some participants found the personality of JanineBot charming
None of the participants were irked by the conversation
One participant found it difficult to scroll horizontally to look for available appointments
One participant was uncomfortable booking an appointment without seeing the price difference between a Skype and in-person appointment
Software Used: Botsociety.io
Changes to the System:
1. The feature that prompts users to enable location for emergencies was confusing for participants during low-fi prototype testing.
Solution: Based on Jakob Nielsen’s principle of interaction design, matching the system and the real world was an important step. The Emergency Response System (2-6-6) was implemented in the same way that users understand the 9-1-1 system.
2. In order to reduce apprehensions with booking appointments, JanineBot will be able to answer questions about appointment prices on the chat screen in the future.
3. For detailed information about the different kinds of services, the bot will provide a link to the Real Ghostbusters website.
Test the High-Fidelity Prototype: JanineBot on Botsociety