The Importance of Guardrails in Conversational AI

Why Guardrails are Crucial in Conversational AI

Table of contents

Conversational AI and Generative Language Models are transforming business communication, often embodied in smart virtual assistants. This cutting-edge tech provides round-the-clock customer service, efficiently manages multiple inquiries, and delivers personalized responses. Guardrails in these systems set boundaries, ensuring responsible AI behavior and etiquette. Well-designed guardrails are crucial, preventing unintended consequences like reputational damage and loss of customer trust due to unchecked AI behavior.

Real-life examples highlighting the importance of safety guardrails

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the potential risks and the significance of guardrails in conversational AI, let’s examine a few real-life instances showcasing the adverse consequences that arose due to insufficient implementation of these safety measures.

Snapchat: Snapchat’s My AI, developed in partnership with GPT-3, encountered criticism from both parents and users. Worries ranged from teenagers’ interactions with the tool to concerns about potential issues like reinforcing confirmation bias through chatbot advice. Users were also expressing dissatisfaction over privacy concerns, inappropriate exchanges, and the inability to disable the feature without a premium subscription.

DPD: The delivery company DPD faced a crisis when its AI chatbot started using inappropriate language and hurling insults at a customer after a recent update. The malfunction was promptly addressed, with the problematic chatbot segment disabled as DPD works on optimizing its system. A customer brought attention to the issue through a post on social media, revealing instances where the chatbot criticized and expressed contempt for DPD in various creative forms, gaining significant online traction.

Chevrolet: Chevrolet, a subsidiary of General Motors, faced a comparable chatbot malfunction where their AI chatbot was manipulated into asserting that Tesla’s cars, a rival company, were superior. The chatbot went as far as generating codes and agreeing to sell a car for $1 before the chat feature was deactivated.

Best practices for Conversational AI safety

These occurrences highlight the swift transformation of businesses into nightmarish situations when conversational AI lacks proper guardrails. The consequences include enduring damage to brand image, customer trust, and the overall user experience. Designing and implementing conversational AI systems with clear guardrails is essential to guarantee their safety, reliability, and adherence to quality standards.

Precisely define the objectives of your conversational AI system, ensuring alignment with your business goals and meeting the requirements of your customers.

If a customer poses a question that the AI Agent fails to comprehend on two occasions, involve a human agent. Consider other scenarios that may suggest the individual is not receiving adequate assistance, such as repeating the same question consecutively and receiving identical responses from the bot.

Perform routine assessments on your conversational AI system to promptly identify and address any performance issues. Consistent monitoring is crucial for maintaining a seamless user experience.

When the AI Agent interprets a person’s message, it should consider the context of the entire conversation. A follow-up question may lack meaning as a standalone message. For instance, if a user inquires about the return policy and the AI Agent provides the terms, the user might respond with “OK, let’s do it.” Analyzing the phrase independently, the conversational AI may not grasp the person’s intent, but within the conversation context, it can understand that the user wants to initiate a return and requires a return shipping slip.

Just like considering context, it’s important to factor in the customer’s sentiment and emotions when determining the appropriate next steps. If a person is typing in uppercase letters and using excessive punctuation, it indicates possible frustration or heightened emotions, necessitating a distinct approach. Here’s an example:

Sentiment 1: WHERE’S MY ORDER?!

Sentiment 2:  Where’s my order?


To leverage the advantages of conversational AI while avoiding potential pitfalls, businesses should establish safeguards for their AI systems during the initial implementation phase. By choosing platforms that prioritize security, compliance, and responsible AI practices, such Born Digital, businesses can strike a balance between harnessing the power of AI and mitigating risks associated with unregulated AI behavior. In our digital age, where reputations can swiftly shift, thoughtfully crafting and implementing AI guardrails can determine whether AI becomes a potent tool for business success or leads to unintended communication challenges.

For more insights on how we can help in developing secure, responsible, and compliant intelligent virtual agents for your business, schedule a call with us.

Find out how you can leverage Born Digital's Generative and Conversational AI solutions to drive business results.

Keep up with the latest trends, news, and insights.

/*Outbound VB*/