Handle Compound User Intents In Your Chatbot

Here Are Two Approaches…One Very Simple & The Other Comprehensive

Cobus Greyling
10 min readMay 6, 2020



In short the problem is…the user input is too long, with multiple requests in one sentence or utterance.

In essence compound intents…

The medium impacts the message, and in some mediums, like sms/text and messaging applications in the general, the user input might be shorter. Then, in mediums access via a keyboard or a browser, the user input is again longer.

More Complex Entity Detection with Linked Entities

The longer user input can have multiple sentences, with numerous user intents embedded in the text.

There can also be multiple entities. Users don’t always speak in single intent and entity utterances.

On the contrary, the users will speak in compound utterances. The moment these complex user utterances are thrown at the chatbot, the bot needs to play a game of single intent winner.

Which intent from the whole host of intents from the user is going to win this round of dialog turn?

But…what if the chatbot could detect, that it just received four sentences; the intent of the first one is weather tomorrow in Cape Town. The second sentence is the stock price for Apple, the third is an alarm for tomorrow morning etc.

Too ambitious you might think?

Not at all…very possible, doable and the tools to achieve this exist.

Best of all, many of these tools are opensource and free to use…but first…

A Simple Approach Using IBM Watson Assistant

Like all cloud based chatbot development environments, with Watson Assistant you can create a list of expected user intents.

Always Wait for Watson To Complete Training Prior To Testing

These intents are categories to manage the conversation. Think of intents as the intention of the…



Cobus Greyling

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