Improving recommender systems with adaptive conversational strategies
Conversational recommender systems (CRSs) assist online users in their information-seeking and decision making tasks by supporting an interactive process. Although these processes could be rather diverse, CRSs typically follow a fixed strategy, e.g., based on critiquing or on iterative query reformulation. In a previous paper, we proposed a novel recommendation model that allows conversational systems to autonomously improve a fixed strategy and eventually learn a better one using reinforcement learning techniques. This strategy is optimal for the given model of the interaction and it is adapted to the users' behaviors. In this paper we validate our approach in an online CRS by means of a user study involving several hundreds of testers. We show that the optimal strategy is different from the fixed one, and supports more effective and efficient interaction sessions.