Building a chatbot’s personality: Why & how

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Abhay Vohra
Program Manager, Experience Design
Net Solutions
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Chatbots are here and their impact on the business landscape is prominently visible. The technical challenges to build a bot and deploy it have been overcome already and the focus has now shifted towards the bot’s behavior.

Chatbots need to function on a higher level than simply providing information to users or customers.

For this, the chatbot needs to project a personality that has all of the endearing and personal qualities of a real person to provide an engaging experience for users.

A chatbot personality is similar to a character in a novel. A good personality will be complex and multi-layered, entailing the creation of the most life-like and human qualities for your users to engage with.

A personality gives your users or customers an experience that’s most similar to interacting with a real person, whether it’s through an online shopping experience, a weather forecast, a customer service helpdesk conversation, a virtual assistant, or other transactions.

Personality of a chatbot – what does it mean?

A chatbot’s personality is used to provide your users with the most pleasurable experience possible so that they remember your brand and look forward to using your site or services again and again.

Just like a store would train their staff to employ the most positive and friendly customer service techniques when dealing with clients, a chatbot personality is designed to mirror real life user experiences via artificial intelligence.

Why a chatbot experience sucks without a great personality

You must be wondering why should brands bother about a chatbot’s personality when they can simply deliver information to users in an automated format. The coding is all there for providing users the information and assistance they need. So, what’s the point in undertaking the huge project of creating a personality for your chatbot? We’ll discuss some of the main reasons here.

The answer lies in the customer experience you want to deliver. It’s the reason why brick and mortar retailers and call centers spend so much time creating brand-specific best practices and extensively training employees in customer service. Companies want to offer customer assistance in the most positive way.

Similarly, a chatbot is an extension of a brand and will act as a digital ambassador on your behalf.

A chatbot’s personality can have a huge impact on a user’s experience. It can make all the difference with a fun and enjoyable interaction, rising above the experience that leaves the user annoyed or frustrated otherwise.

Without a personality, a bot is a faceless, anonymous source of information that creates a neutral and ordinary experience for users. Brands need to stand out and be known for something if they want to compete in the market. This is similar to a store needing eye-catching signage, websites needing attractive design, and products requiring sleek advertising.

A chatbot personality makes your brand more relatable than it would be by simply relaying information. When your user feels like they’re interacting with a real person they become more relaxed and engaged, exactly the way you are when talking with a friend.

No matter how thoroughly a brand trains their customer service agents they are still humans and unpredictable and therefore, are uncontrollable. A chatbot with a distinct personality combines the best of both the worlds, delivering the messages that your users need with a relevant persona. And this service agent is friendly, life-like, yet, completely controllable with minimal errors or inconsistencies.

Customers are more likely to stay on your site, purchase more products, and remember your brand when they are engaged in a personal interaction. When they feel like they are having a conversation with a real person their experience on your site becomes more relaxed and natural.

Think of how people assign personalities to their pets. The bond is stronger when we feel that we are dealing with a personality instead of an inanimate object or unemotional being.

Key approaches to building a remarkable chatbot personality 

To be competitive and create a superior bot, you’ll need to create a unique personality that stands out from the crowd and one that your users love to interact with.

A great chatbot is a marketing tool for your brand or site that will create a buzz, give your users a great experience, prompt them to tell others about your brand, and entice them to come back for more.

To help you understand this, lets us take the example of a bad bot.

Bad chatbot

This bot had the following setbacks:

  1. It did not recognize the symptoms already mentioned by the user.
  2. It should have engaged in a better way by diagnosing that user might be down with jaundice.
  3. The conversation is driven by user rather than being moderated by the bot.

So, we started by showing you what is not to be done when building a chatbot’s personality. Let’s now understand what should be your approach for building a good one.

Creating a great chatbot personality requires creativity that is not unlike creating a character in a book or movie, as mentioned above. A successful chatbot personality will be warm and relatable but will also be consistent.

Just as a person’s background, core values, and hard-wired personality traits will shape every word that comes out of his mouth, a chatbot also requires a backstory and identity beyond just delivering the pertinent information to your users.

The most successful chatbots have complex personalities that transcend simply delivering information to consumers. When a great chatbot personality is created it’s funny, intelligent, helpful and endearing to the user.

There are several key features that a great chatbot personality should have and are central to a successful character. Three major qualities to create for your chatbot are a life story, a human-like history, and a visual identity. Let’s explore these three areas in more detail to help you to create a rich personality for your chatbot:

1. Pay attention to storytelling

Our personalities are shaped up with the way we are raised, the family we come from, and our childhood experiences. Similarly, a chatbot needs to have an interesting and realistic life history. This marks the foundation for your chatbot’s personality. You need to develop your chatbot’s current mannerisms, quirks, and personality traits, accordingly.

You need to be highly imaginative when coming up with ideas about your chatbot’s personality and history. Working with other creatives like marketers or writers is a great idea to bring about a genuine personality for your bot.

Creating a character for your chatbot begins with creating a backstory. Answer these questions: Where did they come from? What kind of world were they raised in? What kind of upbringing did they have and as a result, how did this shape their current personality? Is your chatbot shy? Bookish? Outgoing? Humorous?

At first, it will seem strange to answer these questions about a computer-generated bot. But, once you get rolling you’ll start to see patterns forming that will help shape the personality of your chatbot. Take a look at Chatbot Poncho below that very smartly handles queries, especially, when it is unable to find the most appropriate answer to a question.

Chatbot poncho

So, Poncho has been trained to not only get the user ask the most suitable question (which Poncho can understand) but also to reflect a witty personality. The above conversation reflects that Poncho is an intelligent, experienced and witty chatbot.

While your user won’t see your chatbot’s life history or know its details, it’s an integral part of creating the most authentic personality possible. The more consistent your chatbot personality is the more human-like it will appear to be. People like to think of chatbots as tiny people that live inside their computer or phone because it gives them something they can relate to.

The key to creating a personality that is as realistic as possible is to make it as complex as you can. Delve into every area of your bot’s life history. Even if you think a detail or an idea is trivial and consider it worthy enough to record.

The end result of this exercise will be a chatbot that’s warm and pleasant with a unique personality that’s as life-like as possible.

2. Build a life story for your bot

You need to create a life story for your chatbot exactly the way a human being’s life story is. This would include the history of the bot from birth to present day. This bridges the gap between the beginning of your chatbot’s story and their current personality.

Imagine your chatbot’s resume and create a history using that as a template. Where did your chatbot go to school? If it had past jobs what would they be? This is quite similar to the way the education and experience define the roles for a human being.

Look at the example below to understand how you can go about this. It shows a personality of a pleasant chatbot that beautifully drives the conversation

Chatbot Nagarro

Now, you need to take it a step beyond the typical resume-like information and work more on the personality traits. Picture your customer or user sitting down with your chatbot, putting business aside, and having a cup of coffee together. What would they talk about? How would your chatbot’s personality translate outside of its work/professional setting?

While these exercises might seem trivial initially, but they will go a long way in building a personality for your chatbot that your users will relate to and feel affection towards. This will translate further into sales, traffic, and brand awareness.

Imagine the processes that have gone into creating some of the world’s most popular and well-known artificial intelligence personalities like Siri, and you’ll see how worthwhile it is to take the time to set your chatbot up properly.

3. Build a unique visual identity

Chatbot

A great chatbot will not only have an outstanding personality but will also have a visual identity that your users can instantly relate to. Whether it’s a friendly human-like avatar or it has a more abstract look, your chatbot’s physical appearance is the key to its overall success.

A visual identity gives your users something they can instantly connect with from the moment they see it. If you brand your chatbot properly then the mere sight of your chatbot will bring about an entire visualization of your website and retention of the customer experience you deliver, in the customer’s mind. One simple picture can create an instant moment of brand recognition, which you cannot achieve with a faceless artificial intelligence machine otherwise.

When designing your chatbot’s visual appearance, you need to keep in mind the way you want your users to feel when engaging with your brand. Are you friendly and upbeat? Chic and sophisticated? Dark and edgy? Your overall brand’s message should match with the look of your chatbot to create a cohesive message that penetrates through all the touchpoints in the customer interactions.

The human mind always responds positively to a good visual appearance. People respond to visual images that are cute, unique, and a little quirky. So, keep that in mind when working with a designer to create a visual identity for your chatbot.

Conclusion

The three areas of focus – storytelling, chatbot history and visual identity, may seem like a lot of behind the scenes effort to you. But, they will all pay off when they come together to create a chatbot that’s as friendly and likable as it is smart and efficient. When you ace your chatbot’s personality you’ll be building a brand ambassador that can consistently convey the message of your site to your users every time they connect.

Just as we enjoy interacting with humans with positive, upbeat, and friendly personalities, people want an experience with a chatbot that’s just as magnetic. When you take the time to develop the layers of your chatbot’s personality you’ll be creating an interesting piece of your brand that’s unique to your company, site, or service, as well as one that will pay off as it engages your clients and brings in traffic and sales. Give your customers and users an experience that they’ll love and retain, by designing a chatbot that has a charismatic personality.

If you are looking for any help on building any digital solution for better customer or employee engagement, this an area where we can help. Please contact us at [email protected].

 

 

 

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