Kik, the Canadian messaging brand fittingly described the digital space like this: “First there were websites, then there were apps. Now, there are bots.”
The rise of the bots comes with its very own tide of pop culture alarm-bells and prophesising about our new bot uprising, but we have an exciting opportunity to humanize our chatbots and make our own customer interactions even better. Chatbots don’t have to be mechanical in terms of their personality.
Customers don’t want to feel like they’re chatting to a machine – they’re after more authentic, honest and trustworthy customer experience. That’s why it’s in your brand’s best interest to innovate to humanize.
Let’s look at how.
1. Mirror your User – don’t make them do all the work
Creating a chatbot is about convenience. Your customers want quick, timely answers that solve their problems and provide value. If your chatbot is programmed in a way that makes it difficult for customers to get answers and engage with your brand – it can do a lot better.
One way that chatbots become inaccessible is if the language and tone you instruct it to use isn’t fit for purpose. Awkward phrasing and limited language options can make users feels like they have to shape their questions in a certain way and reflect the tone of the chatbot, which is more effort for them.
Flip this idea on its head and use localization, social listening and colloquialisms to shape a chatbot’s language processing around your user.
It’s well-worth investing in the conversational interface and tone your chatbot uses to create a better experience for customers. Use a copywriter or skilled linguist to help craft your messaging.
2. Map out Conversations
It’s up to you how complex you want your chatbot to be, but thinking of them as more than a Q&A tool can lead to positive results. Use UX designers to help you map out conversations and create more engaging, rich content.
Diagrams and mapping will enable you to programme more natural dialogue. Inform your mapping with customer research and social listening to find out what your customers expect from interactions.
Your chatbots need to be flexible to meet the needs of your users, so less restricted conversation structures are a good idea. Work on creating a variety of different responses and phrases, so your chatbot looks more spontaneous.
3. Efficient Chatbots keep Customers Happy
Your customers are looking for answers and options. Making it as easy as possible to find out information and get to the next stage of a customer journey is paramount.
Authentic and engaging chatbots are effective, but customers also want to resolve their issues and get on with the rest of their day. Lengthy conversation with a chatbot probably isn’t on their list of priorities, so keeping the conversation flowing is important.
Design quick reply tools and use yes/no options, so that customers can move the conversation along quickly. You can also design your chatbot so that it can remember details about a user if they’ve used your service before i.e address details etc.
4. Give your Chatbots some Perspective
One of the many things that make us human is our ability to look at different perspectives and process context. Chatbots can’t respond in the same way to situations of course, but we can help to give them a bit more detail about the environment around us.
This could be as simple as feeding a chatbot information about local weather or seasonal content. Adding in a reference to something contextual can give chatbots a bit more charm and wit – endearing themselves to customers.
With permissions, your chatbot can learn more about your user. Depending on your service, your chatbot could drop in references to the types of products your customer likes. However, don’t go overboard and start creeping customers out. Privacy is important to users, so keep conversation contextual by using common-sense references.
5. Personality-driven Content
One of the main drivers for a good or bad chatbot is the unique personality that you give it. Think of your chatbot as a brand ambassador – it should reflect the values or identity of your brand and have a complementary personality built into it.
Naming your chatbot is one of the best ways to instantly create more of a persona – look at Cortana, Siri etc.
This is your way of making your brand stand out and making it memorable for customers. Their experience should be positive and a quirky, punchy or straight-talking chatbot are just a few of the personality traits you can give a chatbot to help improve an interaction.
At its best, a good chatbot can help to secure more brand loyalty and make customer service interactions a more helpful experience.
Make it easier for your customers to get the answers they’re searching for with a chatbot. Their experience needs to be swift, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be warm, fun and memorable too. Strike a balance between efficiency and effusiveness.
Chatbots give brands the chance to create more value, in a format that delivers the instant, engaging customer service that users are expecting.
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