Resilient chatbots: Repair strategy preferences for conversational breakdowns
Text-based conversational systems, also referred to as chatbots, have grown widely popular. Current natural language understanding technologies are not yet ready to tackle the complexities in conversational interactions. Breakdowns are common, leading to negative user experiences. Guided by communication theories, we explore user preferences for eight repair strategies, including ones that are common in commercially-deployed chatbots (e.g., confirmation, providing options), as well as novel strategies that explain characteristics of the underlying machine learning algorithms. We conducted a scenario-based study to compare repair strategies with Mechanical Turk workers (N=203). We found that providing options and explanations were generally favored, as they manifest initiative from the chatbot and are actionable to recover from breakdowns. Through detailed analysis of participants’ responses, we provide a nuanced understanding on the strengths and weaknesses of each repair strategy.