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Chatbots: From Unstructured Data to Conversation

Have a Conversation with your Customer

Cobus Greyling
7 min readAug 14, 2019


Any conversation via a conversational interface, like a chatbot, poses the challenge of creating structure from a highly unstructured medium. Which is in this case, a natural language conversation.

Break it down to the basics

Chatbot which is Contextually Aware

I always find a good approach to Natural Language Understanding application design, is to break the process down to its most basic form.

Any conversation is constituted by the following elements:


The basic notion that any conversation has a specific context within which that conversation takes place.

Even when humans have a conversation, context needs to be established first. If not, it leads to misunderstandings.

Context within a conversation is the parts of the conversation that immediately precedes the current passage or words, allowing for clarity and meaning.

Context assists both the user and the conversational Interface to construct meaning from the conversation.


Conversations, and especially story telling was the first form of virtual reality; reproducing events of the past and bygone realities. Customers interacting with the conversational Interface might have contacted us in the past.

It is important to identify those customers and present continuity to their conversation. This is in line with any human conversation; when we meet with a familiar face, we expect a new conversation. but also, entertain the possibility that we will continue a previous conversation.


Again, in any conversation data is captured by one or multiple parties. One or more parties have certain objectives (data) they would like to capture with the conversation.

This leads to an informal process whereby form filling takes place; but in a conversational manner.



Cobus Greyling

I explore and write about all things at the intersection of AI and language; NLP/NLU/LLM, Chat/Voicebots, CCAI.