'Personalities' for Chat Bots

Posted on 5th September 2017


Welcome to the Business Empathy Forum and thank you for your visit. In this post I pay another short visit to the advancing frontiers of artificial intelligence. For this discussion I draw on a recent article by Jess Thoms on developing personalities for chat-bots. With growing use of bots the user experience is becoming more ‘conversational’, so bots will need a ‘voice’ and a ‘personality’.

An Emerging ‘Thing’ in User Experience

So why do our growing legions of digital helpers actually need voices and personalities? “Chat-bots and voice assistants are for humans. Conversational interfaces exist for better interactions between humans and computers. So then, how can we personalise these conversations to be more life-like, intimate, and representative of human interaction? Through personality. Building a rich and detailed personality makes your chat-bot more relatable, believable, and relevant to your users. Investing in personality informs every touch point of a chat-bot. Personality creates a deeper understanding of the bot’s end goal, and how it will communicate through choice of language, mood, tone, and style.”

There is a definite link to empathy here, to creating an empathic bond between a person and a machine. “Conversational experiences have to be personal. In order for brands to engage through bots and ultimately see conversions — they need quality conversations. Engagement and retention on conversational interfaces requires users to have an emotional connection to the experience.” I literally had to read that quote several times to be sure that I understood the implications correctly: several of the key ideas that I stress with my Empathic Enterprise clients – the critical importance of emotional connection and the personal touch in conversation, for example – are now being programmed into chat-bots as part of their ‘personalities’.

One of the fascinating aspects of Thoms’ article is discovering how important talented writers are in this personality development for chat-bots: “The people who will drive the creation of these artificial personalities and subsequent copy creation need to understand the importance of personas. Additionally, this includes writers who see the value in micro-copy and personas. Small pieces of text used to direct and inform users may seem meaningless – but when it comes to conversational interfaces – micro-copy is all you have.”

And these ‘creatives’ come from many backgrounds: “Skills to build a personality come from writers, designers, actors, comedians, playwrights, psychologists and novelists. The integration of these skills into tech roles have sprung terms such as conversation designer, persona developer, and AI interaction designer. Having these specific skill sets helps exponentially. Google is hiring creatives to bring humor and storytelling to human-to-machine interactions, and Microsoft Cortana’s writing team includes a poet, a novelist, a playwright, and a former TV writer.”

Interesting times, and things in AI continue to move fast.

Good luck, and until next time…