03.01.2019

Make your chatbot personality count

Or why we can’t all be R2-D2

Star Wars taught us why we have to build personas for bots. Because who doesn’t love R2-D2? You have to love his moral righteousness. His internal conflict whenever Han and Luke go rogue. His everlasting politeness and his shiny golden armor.

Just kidding.

That’s C-3PO in the gif, obviously. We’re just talking about two clumsy robots, but everyone still seems to be able to tell them apart from a few characteristics. Not only do people know the difference, they go crazy for the pair. And that’s why your Conversational User Interface (CUI) needs a persona.

Don’t worry
If you have a CUI, it already has a personality. From the first message in a one on one conversation, we unconsciously start to attach a personality to whatever entity we’re talking to. The bad news: if you don’t put in the time to build a rich persona, your CUI will suffer from a schizophrenic, off-brand and off-purpose personality.

Think about the children
Let’s take a step forward. A big one. In a few years your children will be talking to a lot of chatbots about a lot of different topics. Every brand will either have one big CUI or multiple small ones to tackle everyday problems. That’s why you have to start thinking about persona coherency across future CUIs today. It’s about standing out while staying true to yourself. Starting from your brand values, you can decide what personality traits will be fixed across CUIs. Is your persona the nutty professor or a quiet wallflower? A caring mom or an experimenting 16-year-old?

At the end is the pot of goals
Once you have defined your fixed personality traits, you can start spicing it up. On the individual level, the purpose of your CUI defines everything. Whether that purpose is solving customer support issues or taking over the world, you need people to get to the end of the flow to reach your goal. You need the perfect guide to get people there. If you want to convince people rabbits used to be fluorescent, a bunny professor might be a good idea. If you have to tell people their power will be cut, he’s probably not the man for the job.

It’s not a conversation
It can be challenging to keep people interested until the end because as much as we would like that, it’s not really a conversation. Until we can create a real C-3PO for every brand, CUIs will have clear scenarios in which brands do the talking. Unfortunately, only nerdy copywriters are interested in reading brands talk.

So, you need to break up the text.

Show a video.

Share a photo.

And keep it interesting. This might look like a practical thing, but it has a great influence on the persona. Everything shared by a bot, is designed specifically for the bot and is part of its language and persona. A bot has as many tools to build a persona and engage users as you can think of. Use them.

How are you feeling today?
Your persona is not only a guide to the pot of gold. It’s also a vital touchpoint with your audience. If not your major touchpoint, it’ll definitely be the most personal one. Your brand will have one on one conversations with different people in different emotional states. Depending on the purpose, your CUI might be talking to angry 50-year-old men or to jolly 8-year-old girls. Your persona should be equipped to talk to any audience, even if it’s all of them.

The talk
It’s time for the talk. The talk between you and your customers. Let’s start building strong personas for every brand. And remember that we don’t really have a choice because every bot has a persona. A good one will help to make things easily digestible and reach business goals. There are many conversations nobody wants to sit through. Make sure the conversation with your CUI doesn’t become one of them.

Glen Schrijvers

Glen Schrijvers

As a Dutch native, Glen writes compelling content in both English and Dutch. After acting for a clients’ campaign video, he also juggles with social media and AI.

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