How to influence customers through conversation design

Chatbots and voice assistants can be used for repetitive processes that often can be automated. That is why customer service was the first to adopt chatbots and make them part of their regular operation.

However, conversational technology can be applied in many more ways. Think of service, marketing, sales, hr, and even online coaching. From a tech point of view, the implementation is pretty much the same for every use case. But for a Conversation Design point of view, different rules apply. To figure out how this works, there are two very important models: The Bill Price irritation-value Model and the BJ Fogg Behavior Model.

Let’s get going and discover how these models can be used to take our Conversation Design to the next level so you can influence the behavior of your customer.

Bill Price Value Irritation Model

Bill Price is a customer service guru. He was head of customer service at Amazon and wrote the book The Best Service Is No Service. In the book, he argues that companies should get their operations in order, and if they do a good job at that, nobody will ever feel the need for service.

Bill Price designed a quadrant that Conversation Designers can use when they are about to design a new conversation.


Some things are super valuable for users and not so much for the company. Think of customer service. Basic customer service questions, like changing an address, etc. Here we want to increase self-service and make it easy for users to do it themselves.

Other things are super valuable for the business and not so much for the users. Think of sales: leaving product reviews, filling in forms, and booking sales meetings. Here we want to make the process simple and remove barriers.

The next step

Looking at the quadrant, every scenario that takes place in the bottom right or top left square is perfect for bots. And if it is valuable for both the user and the company, then you should encourage live engagement and leverage the situation. High-value sales conversations or complicated service scenarios can harm the relationship.

So we now know for which scenarios we can use chatbots and voice assistants. But how do these two types of scenarios differ from each other? And how should we, as Conversation Designers, use this information?

For this, we use BJ Fogg his model. He is a famous behavior scientist affiliated with Stanford University. His model is called: ‘BJ Fogg Behavior Model’.

BJ Fogg Behavior Model to deal with different scenarios and desired behavior

Every time we design a conversation, we want a certain behaviour to come out. So we have to understand how we can influence customers and make them behave in that specific way.

For conversation in the bottom right square, the user is experiencing a problem himself. Meaning he is already motivated. But at the top left square, the users do not conceive the scenario as valuable. Therefore he is not motivated to engage and play along.

To understand how to deal with this, we have to understand the BJ Fogg Behavioral Model.

It shows that three elements must converge at the same time for a behaviour to occur. These are motivation, ability, and a prompt. When a behaviour does not occur, at least one of those three elements must be missing.


So in service, when the user is already motivated to resolve his issue, we need to make it easy for him to do so.

We keep the process simple and the dialogue straightforward. There is no need to add lots of engagement to our conversation design, since the user is only interested in getting his issue resolved. The user wants to go from start to finish as fast as possible. Our design and dialogue is there to help him do just that.

Cialdini’s persuasive principles

But when our customer is not very motivated – nobody likes to be sold anything – we have to ensure that we increase motivation. This is where we use our persuasive copywriting skills as triggers to influence customer behavior and have our users get with the program.

We might focus on Cialdini’s persuasive principles to design a conversation that is going to influence our user in such a way that he gets motivated to engage with our chatbot. We might persuade him to book a meeting, leave a review, donate to our cause, or buy our product.

To achieve this, we might use the Cialdini principles like:

ic-checkCommitment and consistency
ic-checkSocial proof

Whenever you design conversations for your chatbot or voice assistant, start by understanding where your scenario takes place within the Bill Price quadrant. Then you will know how motivated your customer is and how you can influence his behavior to get him to the resolution faster.