University of Oulu

Avgustis, I., Shirokov, A., Iivari, N. (2021). “Please Connect Me to a Specialist”: Scrutinising ‘Recipient Design’ in Interaction with an Artificial Conversational Agent. In: , et al. Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2021. INTERACT 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 12935. Springer, Cham.

“Please connect me to a specialist” : scrutinising ‘recipient design’ in interaction with an artificial conversational agent

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Author: Avgustis, Iuliia1; Shirokov, Aleksandr2; Iivari, Netta1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Rutgers University, New Brunswick, USA
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2023-01-16


This paper explores how callers formulate information enquiries for an artificial conversational agent in a call centre and compares it with the way enquiries are addressed to human operators of the same call centre. It includes 60 call recordings with human operators and 103 call recordings with the artificial conversational agent, transcribed and analysed using the method of Conversation Analysis. We show that people formulate and reformulate their enquiries differently to an artificial agent, even though the goal in both cases is to get an answer to the same enquiry. When talking to the artificial conversational agent, callers produce short enquiries, similar to web searches. When connected to human operators, callers formulate longer enquiries which include many details. By analysing the differences in the way callers formulate their enquiries to robots and human operators, we show what callers expect artificial conversational agents to process. These expectations affect the way the enquiry is formulated and, as a result, operators and artificial agents encounter different types of problems they have to repair to understand the question correctly and find an answer to it. Our findings have interesting implications for Human Computer Interaction both in terms of “robot-recipient design” and “user-recipient design”.

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Series: Lecture notes in computer science
ISSN: 0302-9743
ISSN-E: 1611-3349
ISSN-L: 0302-9743
ISBN: 978-3-030-85610-6
ISBN Print: 978-3-030-85609-0
Volume: 12935
Pages: 155 - 176
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-85610-6_10
Host publication: Human-Computer Interaction : INTERACT 2021
Host publication editor: Ardito, Carmelo
Lanzilotti, Rosa
Malizia, Alessio
Petrie, Helen
Piccinno, Antonio
Desolda, Giuseppe
Inkpen, Kori
Conference: International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction
Type of Publication: A4 Article in conference proceedings
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
5141 Sociology
Funding: Iuliia Avgustis received financial support from the research project “Smart Communication” (2018-2022, Eudaimonia Institute, University of Oulu). We would like to thank members of the EMCA_Ru Research Group (A. Korbut, A. Maximova, K. Popova, A. Reiniuk, N. Belov) in collaboration with whom data for this research were collected and transcribed and who provided valuable insights during data sessions. Special thanks should be given to Florence Oloff for constructive comments and useful critiques, as well as to Gary David for his insightful feedback.
Copyright information: © 2021 IFIP International Federation for Information Processing. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Lecture Notes in Computer Science. The final authenticated version is available online at