With 67% of consumers worldwide using chatbots regularly, organizations are flocking to these unique solutions to customer service challenges. However, with the bot market getting flooded, the quality of an organization’s chatbot is increasing in importance. The emerging trend is that consumers want to feel like they’re speaking to a real person. But how do you ensure that human touch whilst maintaining the advantages of the chatbot? Here are a few tips to bear in mind.
Most of the internet’s widely popular chatbots are voice-activated and communicate verbally, so getting the right voice can be the difference between a human-like experience and a computeristic interaction. Think of Siri, probably the most well-known contextual chatbot (one that stores information from conversations to learn about its user). Siri, much like her counterparts in Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant, has neutral, natural voices.
The language-learning app, Duolingo, has taken the lead from these companies in developing their own vocal chatbot. “Learning a language can be near impossible without someone to practice with, so the company behind Duolingo has developed chatbots in multiple languages to help their users practice their pick-up lines without accidentally offending any native speakers. Still, the voices chosen are natural, human-sounding voices. Gone are the days of robotic text-to-speech machines” says Steven Bennett, a tech blogger at Writinity and Researchpapersuk.
Once you’ve got a winning voice, the next thing to figure out is the content of the chatbot’s speech. Providing a chatbot with a well of responses to a variety of questions will enhance those feelings of human connection with users.
This doesn’t mean you need a bot to become a MENSA scholar; sometimes just learning the right words is enough. Take Amiya, the fashion brand Dressipi’s chatbot assistant. Amiya helps customers while they shop the brand’s online catalog, so it only needs to know language specific to the company’s products and a handful of sayings most likely to be asked by customers shopping for clothes and accessories. In this case, carefully selected language can help enrich and guide the customer’s online shopping experience.
This is where we get into real Turing Test territory. If there’s one thing that frustrates users about chatbots, it’s that they think the bot can’t fully empathize with their situation. It comes across as a cold machine that has no understanding of human emotion and experience. But when more customers report a positive user experience, they would be encouraged to return to a business. Making an emotional connection can be the sink or swim asset to your chatbot.
But how can the Tin Man get his heart? Well, one way is with an Emotional Application Programming Interface. This is designed for recognizing emotion in images and videos and return the information in actionable data. Microsoft has an emotion detector that recognizes a wide range of human emotions from joy to disgust, the data from which can be fed into a chatbot to make sure it responds appropriately in different emotional situations.
Once a chatbot has a voice, specific language, and appropriate emotions, we’re already scaling the uncanny valley and on our way to a real human-like interaction. “The one thing missing is a unique personality, one that can stay consistent across multiple platforms and mediums. Character should be able to come across in both text and voice, so no matter how it’s built there’s room to insert some uniqueness that will make for a unique customer interaction” explains Carolyn Cort, a marketer at Draftbeyond and Lastminutewriting.
The important thing to remember in this area is to orient a chatbot’s personality to the target user. When Siri and Alexa make jokes it’s endearing, less so if a chatbot in charge of life support in a hospital does that. So, start with thinking about the user and what they want from their interaction with the chatbot. After that, you can start to tweak it (using your specific language) so that your chatbot is memorable, unique, and pleasurable to interact with.
As technology grows more advanced, chatbots will likely get increasingly human-like, but until then these steps should be inspiration enough to personalize your chatbot and ensure a unique customer service experience!
Another great way to humanize your chatbots would be to adopt a hybrid approach like Live Chat. This gives the user a choice between interacting with a chatbot and interacting with an actual, living, breathing human agent. Such an approach will ensure that your customers are as comfortable and happy as possible.