Chatbot Personality — Your Short Guide to Giving Your Bot a Character

9 min read
Feb 22, 2023
the hand keeping a sad and happy paper face

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou

Chatbots became a remedy for aching interactions between humans and computers. They helped to speed up the slow response time and save support expenses. No wonder companies, tempted by the promise of multiple benefits, started deploying them on a massive scale.

Yet, many businesses tripped up, believing that "raw" AI technology will solve all their customer support problems. Over time, chatbots' excitement has fallen, but users' expectations have grown. There’s nothing strange in it. Customers can pick and choose from the diversity of providers. And like it or not, they buy only from those brands that offer adequate products and superb customer experience.

Consequently, the role of chatbots in customer service can’t boil down to automatization anymore. The new chatbot era has come - the era of personalization.

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What is a chatbot personality?

A chatbot personality is the set of human-like characteristics that your chatbot exhibits to be more relatable and engaging to users. It's defined by several factors, such as tone of voice, sense of humor, and level of formality.

It can help if you tailor your chatbot's personality to its specific use case and audience. For example, a chatbot designed to provide customer service for a luxury brand may have a more formal and professional personality. In contrast, a chatbot that provides weather updates may have a more casual and friendly personality.

Why does chatbot personality matter?

Chatbots let users connect with brands wherever they are and whenever they want. They’re more engaging than dull contact forms, may transmit the brand’s voice, and complement the brand identity.

But only well-designed bots that handle chit-chat, act consistently, and keep a person hooked on a conversation can succeed in building relationships.

“If you want to have an interesting conversation with someone — even a virtual someone — then it helps if they have a personality, including likes and interests” (The Verge).

Breathing life into a chatbot is not an easy task. However, some designers have already succeeded in it.

Disney’s bot called Judy Hopps, the character from Zootopia, for sixteen days engaged fans with a mystery game based on the story from the movie. The chatbot's creators emphasized they’d made a lot of effort to infuse authentic and consistent personality into its bot’s character. Only this way they could achieve success proved by millions of exchanged messages.

Another example is Duolingo, the app designed for learning foreign languages. The brand was offering bots that adopted different personalities so that users could choose one they would like to study with.

The bots offered multiple flows, which could be adjusted to a particular group of learners. When a company closed the bots, users were disappointed and flooded the brand’s forum with a request to restore them.

One more factor prompts brands to create their bots' personalities. More and more businesses are becoming aware of the risk that a poorly designed chatbot experience entails.

Oren Jacob (Google I/O ’17) said: “If you don’t spend the time crafting that character and motivation carefully, you run the risk of people projecting motivations, personality traits, and other qualities onto your App and brand that you may not want to be associated with.”

Got convinced? If yes, follow my short guide!

How to create an awesome chatbot personality

1. Get to know your customers

To create targeted offers and campaigns, you must define your buyer personas — the same concerns designing your chatbot personality.

Start with checking what your customers are like. Find out how they speak and what they are interested in. Don’t forget to figure out what may possibly offend them and avoid it at all times. It’s especially important if you provide services to customers from different countries and coming from distinct cultures.

chatbot avatar with surrounded by a cap, a hat, a bow tie, a moustache and glasses

To check that, you can use data already gathered by your brand or conduct dedicated research. It may be time-consuming, but I assure you - this game is worth playing.

2. Design styling

Choosing your bot’s name and avatar is another step. Remember to keep them consistent with your brand identity, target group, and design. You could use your brand mascot as a chatbot image or create a new, fictional character.

If you use ChatBot, you can customize the look of the chat widget in your dashboard. You can choose colors, themes of buttons, or a background image. If needed, you can add the description to the welcome screen or social media buttons. In effect, your bot can become part of your brand identity.

3. Define the ideal language and tone

Language has an immense impact on how users perceive a bot. There's a reason why Microsoft or Apple hire high-class writers and psychologists to craft their bots’ characters. The chatbot has only a few lines of text to catch users’ attention, so it’s better not to waste them on half-baked content.

The same concerns the tone of voice and pacing. Scientists proved that people use the same parts of their brains to interact with robots as other humans.

Therefore, think about how many exclamations marks your bot should send and how fast it should respond. ChatBot allows you to delay the bot’s replies so that you can decide how long the user waiting time should be. Thanks to that, a person won’t need to scroll back to read the bot’s response.

4. Add visuals

People love using emoji, graphics, videos, memes, or GIFs. Just think about recent conversations you had with your friends. I’m sure you can remember at least one funny picture you received or some GIFs that helped you express your feelings or made a chat a bit funnier. These elements have a great power to fuel a conversation.

As ChatBot allows for using buttons, cards, multiple image formats (.jpeg, .png, .gif, .webP) or displaying a YouTube video in a chat window, you can freely use them to make the bot’s responses much more catchy.

5. Avoid “I don’t understand” answer

You can spend ages arming up your bot with answers to multiple questions. But at the end of the day, you won’t be able to prepare it to solve all the world’s problems. However, you can prepare it to know how to behave well when an unexpected happens.

Instead of making a bot say “I don’t understand” every time it doesn’t get the input, you can equip it with a set of witty answers. They can make a user laugh and encourage them to chat even though they haven’t got the answer.

It’s also good to create a simple answer such as “I’m only a bot, and I’m still learning. Would you like to contact a human agent?”, and offer a button-based menu that lets a person contact an agent, set up a call or create a ticket.

6. Add a pinch of humor

The study shows that around 10% of bots receive “I love you” or “I hate you” messages. About 12% of users ask to tell them a joke. Most of them also tend to write “thank you” after getting help from a bot.

Knowing that, you can prepare some clever responses for your bot that will help to keep the conversation up and amaze the users. Take an example from Siri:

“Siri, are you real?”
“Sorry, I’ve been advised not to discuss my existential status.”

“Siri, I’m drunk.”
“I hope you’re not driving anywhere.”

"Hey Siri: Do you sleep?"
“I don't need much sleep, but it's nice of you to ask.”

The assistant wasn’t only trained to complete specific tasks. Its creators turned its weakness into an advantage that strengthened the bot’s personality, making it a likable conversationalist.

7. Design reliability

Your bot can be funny and beautiful, but it must be reliable if you use it to handle customer service tasks. This crucial feature can be achieved by well-designed (and tested!) scenarios, clear flows that always let a user return to start and begin another conversation path, and proper personal appeal.

User reliance is crucial, especially when your bot accepts orders from customers or assists them throughout the checkout. The more trustworthy and consistent your bot is, the more likely website visitors will follow its guidance and complete the task you want them to finish.

8. Be transparent

Jack Nicholson once said that you should only lie to two people: your girlfriend and the police. Although it’s a funny quote that should be taken with a grain of salt, it fits perfectly into this paragraph. If you want your customers to take your bot seriously, you should never pretend it’s a human.

a chatbot avatar between mirrors

Transparency influences customer loyalty, and many studies have confirmed it. What's more, the Government of California has banned companies from pretending that their bots are human (PCMag) and imposed penalties on companies that don’t obey that law.

The better option is to transfer users to human agents. If you use ChatBot, you can easily do that using a LiveChat or Messenger integration.

9. Check whether the personality you created worked out

Even if you have made a lot of effort while designing your bot, you should always keep the lights on and supervise how your bot is doing.

And this is where ChatBot Reports can help. Not only do they let you check the popularity of your stories, but they also find the average number of messages exchanged between users and your bot.

If the data shows that a large number of users don't complete the scenario you created, it will mean that your experience has a game leg, either when it comes to its correctness, effectiveness, or the bot’s personality. A significant number of fallbacks will also signify that your story needs improvement.

Monitor your data regularly, as only then will you be able to discover leaks and optimize your content to provide a much better brand experience.

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Chatbots have stepped into the new, conversational territory. Although they’ve just started to crawl on that path, they aren’t going to change the chosen direction.

Researchers have already predicted that the designer of the chatbot personality will become a regular job in the future. In this case, there is nothing else to do but breathe a new life into your chatbot and make the future today.