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AI, Chatbots, And Customer Experience

Chatbots and Conversational Design

Why Is Conversational Design Important For Your Customers’ Experience and Satisfaction

As previously mentioned in a handful of my stories, I’ve been working in CPaaS and SaaS for quite some years now, with a focus on Chatbots, AI, and Conversational Design.

Today I wanted to touch on Conversational Design, and what benefits your customers can enjoy from it.

Purpose of Chatbots

Photo by Adem AY

Having a chatbot implemented and available for your customers is not about jumping on a hype train, but is all about delivering value to your customers.

In my previous story, I write about the perks of having a Chatbot, but let’s look also at some direct customer input. During a survey done by aimultiple.com, consumers and customers were asked what benefits they personally see and seek.

Survey Credit — aimultiple.com

The top responses were:

  • 24 Hour Service
  • Getting an Instant Response
  • Answers to Simple Questions
  • Easy Communication

From the above, it’s easy to see how a Chatbot’s main goal is to replace the current ways of communication between customers and businesses. They want an easy way to contact you, communicate, and resolve simple issues.

Did you ever try contacting an online service yourself? You email your favorite brand about a product or service that you pay for — just to get a very dull and automated response.

Consumers want to connect with brands, and that stands for Conversational Design as well.

Chatbots Persona

Let’s take the example of a chatbot launched by American Express:

American Express — One of their previous Chatbots released

What can you notice? The chatbot lacks many things. Besides a name, it’s automated, it doesn’t have a persona, and it’s empty and dull at best.

If your chatbot doesn’t have a persona, it still has one.

Rolling out your chatbot isn’t only about automating X% amount of customer interactions. Your Agents will be offloaded to some degree and they will be able to focus on more complex requests, but at what cost?

Your chatbot will be the first line of defense and the first point of interaction with your customers, and they have to feel welcomed and not annoyed by “another robot out there” — customers are not contacting you to chit-chat but to actually resolve an issue they experience.

It’s not an easy task — we also don’t want to trick our customers into thinking they are talking to a real person, we need to be transparent but we still want to provide the experience of customers connecting with us.

You do not want a chatbot to whom customers will write “Let me talk to Agent” every time, you need to make them feel welcomed and build trust that the chatbot will actually help them with their problems. Naming a chatbot “Robo assistant” or “Automated responses” obviously is bad design. That would have the same effect that your Agents present themselves as “Agent number 1”.

The same reason lies behind Amazon customer service agents presenting themselves with real human names instead.

Conversational Design

There is a number of things you want to keep in mind when dealing with Conversational Design.

Establishing your Conversational Design today, is shaping your customers’ conversational experience tomorrow.

Design The User Persona

The first step is to define your customers. Not in a metric-ish way, but more on a personal and connecting level.

When we understand the “persons” who our customers are — who are our User Personas, only then we can define the right goals for our Conversation Design. Defining a User Persona allows us to foresee and avoid common pitfalls — the Chatbot is not there to address the business team’s and designers’ issues, but the issues of our customers.

If we are designing a chatbot for the e-commerce vertical, the data will show from which demographic groups people buy the most, what is their age, the gender, and we will accordingly build use-cases according to their needs.

If I had to compose a list of questions to be asked in order to be capable to come up with a better Conversational Design, these would be:

  • Who are the chatbot users?
  • What are their problems, goals, and needs?
  • How do they currently try to solve problems?
  • What words, sentences, and phrases do they use to express their goals and problems?
  • What situations or circumstances have led to these problems?
  • What is the context of the problem the users are experiencing?

Having these questions answered helps form specific user personalities — short descriptions of users who are most likely to use the chatbot.

Ola — A User Persona

Once the user persona is defined, the customer journey can be defined to fulfill your goal.

Define The Chatbot Type

In order to define the chatbot type and use-cases, we first have to determine:

  • Technical limitations of the Platform we are using
  • How complex the chatbot implementation is
  • What are our timelines to deliver it
  • How much money we are willing to pay

To get some insights on the types of a chatbot, check out Why your Business needs a Chatbot.

In order to achieve the best outcome for our chatbot, we need to define the following use-cases:

  • Use cases that will affect the largest number of current and potential users
  • Use cases that will have the greatest impact on VIP clients
  • Use cases that will solve the current problems that the brand has, such as customer support

Design The Chatbot Persona

Once we have designed the User Persona, we now need to design a Persona for our Chatbot as well, in order to allow customers to feel connected.

Chatbot Persona — Credit Sentione

Designing an identity and personality for your chatbot is not an easy endeavor, but that’s often the difference between the good and the bad — the line between personal and digital is very strict, but reducing the huge gap between these, is often what enables us to make a difference.

Creating a chatbot persona should not be optional in order to design a successful interface. Creating the persona also isn’t trivial and should be well defined beforehand, as there are multiple teams working behind it —the identity and persona goal should be clear in order to achieve it and not smudge it during the building phase.

The chatbot character actually represents a brand extension, the vision, and the brand values — and it needs to embody these, almost as if it was an employee of the company.

A chatbot persona needs to have a heart, voice and tone.

Designing the chatbot isn’t just building it but it includes deciding:

  • What is the Chatbot's Name, Voice, Gender
  • How playful it is
  • Whether the bot will use emoticons
  • Whether the sentence will contain colloquial expressions
  • How long sentences does the bot write and respond with

Summarizing the steps needed to create a useful chatbot would be:

  • Defining our User and the User Persona
  • Defining the Purpose of the Chatbot
  • Defining the Use-cases
  • Deciding on the Chatbot Type
  • Designing the Chatbot Persona

Building a Chatbot and your Conversational Design is not about just functionality and digitalization. It has to allow your customers to feel connected, yet enable them to easily and practically resolve issues.

You might spend a little more time creating a soul and heart for your chatbot, but instead of trying to robotically address your customer needs, allow them an experience where their pain points will be understood and resolved. In the long run, this will drastically improve your customers’ experience, satisfaction, and loyalty — together with all your CSAT, CET, and NPS scores.

Thank you for reading! 🎉

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