A number of recent works have made seminal contributions to the understanding of user intent and recommender interaction in conversational recommendation. However, to date, these studies have not focused explicitly on context- driven interaction that underlies typical use of more pervasive (non-recommendation) QA conversational assistants like Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant. In this paper, we aim to understand a general workflow of natural context-driven conversational recommendation that arises from a pairwise study of a human user interacting with a human simulating the role of a recommender. In our analysis of this intrinsically organic human-to-human conversation, we observe a clear structure of interaction workflow consisting of a preference elicitation and refinement stage, followed by inquiry and critiquing stages after the first recommendation. To better understand the nature of these stages and the conversational flow within them, we augment existing taxonomies of intent and action to label all interactions at each stage and analyze the workflow. From this analysis, we identify distinct conversational characteristics of each stage, e.g., (i) the preference elicitation stage consists of significant iteration to clarify, refine, and obtain a mutual understanding of preferences, (ii) the inquiry and critiquing stage consists of extensive informational queries to understand features of the recommended item and to (implicitly) specify critiques, and (iii) explanation appears to drive a substantial portion of the post-recommendation interaction, suggesting that beyond the purpose of justification, explanation serves a critical role to direct the evolving conversation itself. Altogether, we contribute a novel qualitative and quantitative analysis of workflow in conversational recommendation that further refines our existing understanding of this important frontier of conversational systems and suggests a number of critical avenues for further research to better automate natural recommendation conversations.

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