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     Personality, the icing on the cake for a well-designed chatbot
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    Personality, the icing on the cake
    for a well-designed chatbot

    From repeating hard-coded responses to answering profound questions like “why do blue m&ms taste better,” virtual assistants have come a long way. To many, chatbots are now an integral part of their lives. Switch on the lights? Book tickets? Get product recommendations? Just ask. If you’re an introvert, oh my, what a time to be alive! Joking aside, crowd favorites like Siri and Google Assistant won hearts, not only because they instantly respond, but chatting with them feels like checking with a buddy rather than giving commands to a computer program. The difference is personality. And it’s a pretty neat difference to have.

    So, what’s erm.. personality in a chatbot context?

    Simply put, it’s the way a chatbot interacts with its users. Much like how people have quirks that set them apart and make them likable (or not!), virtual assistants too can exude a certain charm, helping customers relate to them. Beyond simplifying the interaction, it has the potential to influence how users perceive the chatbot, the company, and whether or not they come back.

    Some businesses wrongly assume customers hate virtual assistants and hide it in plain sight. Or worse still, pass it off as human, fooling unsuspecting users. Cardinal sin. Never fool customers, because (a) they’ll eventually figure out — and with chatbots, sooner rather than later, and (b) it’s a misuse of hard-earned trust. Why would anyone even try that? Instead of underplaying the chatbot’s capabilities, we can craft a personality that is helpful and human-like, yet proudly chatbot.

    The defining components of a chatbot’s personality

    Many factors contribute to making a computer program behave human-like, so here are a few key components you should take note of:

    The purpose

    Be clear about the why. Understanding the primary user goals helps settle on the character attributes for the chatbot and factor in the dos and dont’s. For instance, if you’re a doctor’s clinic, it’s best to be concise while helping users find a specialist or book an appointment, as opposed to a spa that can use a fair amount of small talk to familiarize users with other services on offer.

    The target audience/users

    Who you’re designing the experience for is equally important. Study user behavior and walk in your user’s shoes to discern their needs, pain points, and emotions while interacting with the assistant. Define a couple of key personas, say a seasoned businesswoman in her 40s, a millennial man with artistic interests, and so on to plan the flow of conversation and the appropriate tone of voice.

    Distinguishing traits

    Some businesses see merit in using Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or The Big Five Personality Traits to deep dive into personality types and traits. If that’s a bit much, you can simply consider a few common personality traits that fit your brand and the purpose of your chatbot, such that it could be quirky, playful, polite, helpful, empathetic, or witty.

    The branding

    Finally, pay attention to how you present the solution. Incorporate your brand elements and ideals, ensuring your chatbot is stylistically aligned with your brand guidelines. For example, if your audience mainly consists of youngsters and your communication regularly uses pop culture references, blending in reaction memes in context might be a great touch.

    Opportunities to let your chatbot’s personality shine

    Once your chatbot’s personality is conceived, how exactly do you put it to use?

    Craft a tasteful greeting message

    Introduce your virtual assistant (explicitly stating so) and set the tone of the conversation. Businesses sometimes also assert the chatbot’s limited capabilities here. Don’t. The better approach? Highlight everything it CAN do, and plug in helpful reprompts and error messages to manage deviations from the flow.

    Account for small talk

    Because users like to have fun! Being prepared for the occasional “how are yous” and “I love yous” will not only save your chatbot from falling flat when posed with unexpected human talk, it enhances its human quality, helping build a deeper bond with users.

    Customize the error messages

    Despite your best efforts, your chatbot will face errors. When that happens, use fallback messages wisely instead of sounding like a broken record. Be as helpful as you can with the instructions while staying in character. Make a self-deprecating joke? Express genuine regret?

    Friendly farewell message

    When the user is ready to exit, don’t just leave the conversation hanging. Instead, ask follow-up questions to ensure they have achieved their goals. This is a great place to remind them that the virtual assistant is “always available” followed by a signature goodbye message.

    Personality matters but performance trumps

    Have no doubt, users will much rather interact with a robotic virtual assistant that helps than a clueless one oozing personality. In a contest of personality and performance, the latter would win hands down. So the first step towards building a successful virtual assistant is deep-diving into the technology and designing the UX and conversation such that it guarantees a user-friendly application. Sounds tough? Let’s talk, because, at Concerto, we dig all things AI, build delightful conversational assistants, and package them as hassle-free no-code solutions!


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    Sowmya Vasudevan