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Author: Ashwin Sooraj Kudwa |10/10/19

Giving your chatbot a personality

In the last decade, advancements and enhancements in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) space have been significant. As a result, many businesses want to invest in AI to bring about a personalized customer experience to drive their businesses forward. With customer experience playing a massive role, chatbots are often the first point of contact to answer queries in a self-service model and are available on-demand 24/7.

As per Mashable, Facebook reported 300,000 active bots engaging with customers on the platform’s Messenger service, with 8 billion messages exchanged monthly.

Chatbots are vital digital brand ambassadors of businesses and they must be designed such that they represent brands in the best possible way. Engaging with chatbots should feel like interacting with a human brand ambassador. Chatbots need to project a personality with all the endearing qualities of a real person that fits the vibe of the brand and creates an exclusive and engaging customer experience. A satisfying experience ensures that customers remember the brand and look forward to using its services continually.

Why do chatbots need a personality?

When a customer visits any store, the customer interacts with a real person, a staff member, who has been trained to utilize a variety of customer service techniques to ensure that the customer has a satisfying experience. Similarly, a chatbot needs a personality to mirror real customer experiences and interactions.

A chatbot personality is the number one factor for making an emotional connect with customers. Humans interact with the chatbots daily via conversational interfaces. These conversations must be personalized to be more human-like so that customers have an emotional connection with that experience. This can be made possible by shaping a comprehensive chatbot personality that makes it customer-relevant and makes the brand stand out. Having a unique personality makes the conversation engaging and builds a bond between a brand and its customer. Without a distinct personality, the conversation tends to create an ordinary experience and fails to connect with the customer base. The aim is to make the interaction like that with a friend; the more relaxing, personal and engaging the conversation, the higher is the likelihood of the customers returning to your product or service. This results in recurring business increased sales and brand loyalty.

However, it is also important not to overwhelm customers or make the conversation too complicated. The conversations should be simple and easy to understand. Hence, it is vital to anticipate customer experiences while structuring a chatbot conversation.

Personality creates a deeper understanding of the chatbot:

  • Goal
  • Style of communication through the choice of language
  • Mood, and
  • Intonation

This is how a chatbot’s personality helps control the scenario and makes sure the conversation resonates with the customer.

How to build a personality for your chatbot?

As rightly quoted by Adelyn Zhou, Head of Marketing, TOPBOTS, “A customer support bot should empathize with people, even those who might be in the wrong. Just acknowledging and validating an emotion is often enough to make customers feel understood and release negativity, whereas being defensive or argumentative only exacerbates the problem.”

Understanding the personas of the target audience intimately is very important in building a chatbot personality.

Recognizing customers’ routine habits, mannerisms, interests, preferences, quirks, experiences and language choices are critical in building chatbot personas.

Emulating a customer persona on the chatbot will help create an experience that puts them at ease and less likely to be a cause of irritation or frustration. Knowing the customer personas helps in striking the balance between the amount of friendliness, humor, and information that can be provided during the conversation.

Depending on the type of customer it is interacting with, like humans, the chatbot should also display multiple personality traits. For instance, in the case of customer support related responses, it should empathize and be patient. For tasks involving sales, it should convince and assert, like real-life salespeople. For engaging customers, it should be fun, friendly and talkative. If it were to carry out a combination of these tasks, the personality should also reflect the traits accordingly.

How a chatbot should function?

Introduction –

The first content that a chatbot must display to the customer is the greeting and introduction. The chatbot should introduce itself and explain how it can help the customer.

For instance:

“Hi, Ashwin,
I’m Insuro, your digital insurance bot. I can help you by recommending insurance products that are specific to your needs, help you with a life insurance quote, and help you purchase an automobile policy.”

This introduction is friendly, engaging and helps guide the customer into a conversation; with a specific purpose. Also, this will provide much better results than an open-ended question such as “How may I be of assistance to you today?” or “How can I help you?”

Language and Tone –

Developing the right tone is an art. Hence, the choice of words and phrases should be appropriately adjusted to be relevant to the customer group. In a digital conversation between a customer and a chatbot, the tone is a deciding factor between conversion or frustration. A lot of thought must be given to the contribution of personality to the tone of each conversation. For instance, “We can provide a status of your query” would evoke a significantly better customer emotion than “Please call our customer service desk to resolve your query.” The precise tone of voice is crucial in creating the personality and will play a pivotal role in determining the interactions between the brand and the customers. If a chatbot conveys confirmation of a transactional payment made, it should emphasize trust and seriousness, and not humor. Also, if it is assisting with booking an event or looking for tickets to a Broadway show, there is more scope for humor or fun elements.

Humor and wit can make a conversation fun. However, the balance needs to be thought out carefully. If used in the correct way for the right scenario, it will help with the brand experience. However, if used inappropriately, it can fail miserably.

Dynamic conversation - Making the conversation visually engaging by using dynamic and visually rich content like images, gifs, emojis and videos make an excellent contribution to the personality, and ensures that the conversations are more enjoyable, fun and captivating.

Simplicity - The chatbot should be designed to keep things as simple as possible, thus resulting in easier understanding, interaction and clarity. It should not attempt too many things at once. Instead, it should guide the customer one topic at a time, propose/ suggest one type of assistance on this topic, focus on this assistance and complete the conversation before navigating to the next type of assistance or topic. The conversation should move seamlessly in a focused way.

Simplicity in dialogue steers the conversation in the direction of the ultimate goal. The vocabulary that is included in the conversation should make sense, have a clear meaning, be easy for the customer to comprehend and mean what it says. The selection of the right words can be made during the design phase by asking “Would a human really respond like that?” Developing the characteristics of the persona beforehand allows for better dialogue options and personality building.

Visual identity – The human mind always instantly relates to anything graphic or visual; in essence, something that stands out. Hence, assigning a visual identity to the chatbot will ensure that customers connect with the delivered brand experience and remember it from the moment they see it. Along with a good service experience, customers certainly appreciate a good visual experience. This is an important tool that contributes to the chatbot’s success.

Testing with real conversations – Simulating a chatbot’s personality, its choice, and nuance of language in a conversation will help determine whether the conversation flow feels natural or otherwise. Testing with realistic conversations will point out any shortcomings in the conversation flow, how it is reacting to a certain choice of words, types of sentences it is unable to respond to, did it respond in the correct tone, did the response cause the customer to be frustrated or angry, providing an overall feel of the conversation. As with humans, personality building is an iterative exercise, and needs to be tweaked over time. Many iterations of testing are required to determine the best and most natural fit for the chatbot.

As rightly quoted by Austin Beer, bot UX Designer, “By having real-life conversations rather than keeping our minds in our computers can help us better empathize with our users.”

In conclusion, the time spent to correctly develop a functional, unique, well-rounded, relatable and personable chatbot may seem a lot of work. Once all pieces of the puzzle fit in, it makes the effort of creating an incredibly fun and efficient customer experience well worth it. The time taken to develop the different layers of the chatbot’s personality that accurately represents the brand and provides a unique experience will start paying off once customer engagement increases transactional activity and sales.

References:

https://www.mycustomer.com/service/channels/building-a-Chatbots-personality-why-how
https://www.xandra.com/blog/a-guide-to-bot-personalities
https://blog.prototypr.io/a-guide-to-developing-bot-personalities-c6eba213d77b
https://blog.marvelapp.com/guide-developing-bot-personalities/
https://mashable.com/2018/05/01/messenger-bots-f8-2018/

To know more about Intelligent Automation for the Insurance Industry and how automation is changing the insurance industry landscape do click the link

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