Chatbots are the 21st-century evolution of customer support. They can reduce the need for additional agents and provide real-time support, but benefiting from them is not as simple as plugging in some software for content automation. Humanizing the chatbot experience requires well-thought-out logic, personalization and improving conversational abilities. The more human you make the chatbot seem, the more likely it is that your customers will have a positive experience with your brand and get the answers they need fast.
But how do you do this? Let’s find out.
What the Research Says about Chatbots
Are customers okay using chatbots? For the most part, yes, as they are the fastest-growing brand communication channel, according to a recent report. They’ve increased by 92 percent since 2019, and 25 percent of buyers used chatbots to communicate in 2020, up 13 percent from the previous year.
Globally, 67 percent of consumers had interactions with chatbots in the last year, and overall, their experiences weren’t bad, with 87 percent saying there were either neutral or positive.
In most situations, people like chatbots because they get quick answers 24-7. These interactions can become more in-depth as chatbots learn and become more human-like. A study determined that the more human a chatbot is, the more likely the experience is to be positive.
That’s certainly the type of interaction you want to aim for with chatbots. So, what’s the best way to humanize chatbot experiences?
Create a Character
Brands creating characters to give them a more human tone isn’t new. They’ve been doing it for decades in many different mediums. So, why not try this strategy with chatbots?
When developing a character, it should exude your brand attributes and personality, which you should have outlined in your content strategy. Think about the tone and voice of your brand. Who does that sound like in real life? That’s your starting point.
Once you flesh out your character, your chatbot has an identity. It’s not just some piece of technology that’s full of ones and zeroes. Instead, it turns what could be considered a cold connection into a warm one.
To inject this character into your chatbot capabilities, you’ll need a technology platform that enables you to assign characteristics. This will be critical in creating your personality and having it grow and evolve as your brand does.
Enable Chatbots to Insert Visual Expressions
In digital communication, you can’t see body language from an actual person. However, as texting tells us, there are lots of visuals you can add to your words. When you do this as a person, it gives the conversation more life. The same can be true of chatbot experiences.
Chatbots can insert GIFs, images, videos, and emojis when appropriate. They can support the content as well as bring that humanistic layer. They convey emotion and meaning. Using visual expressions also maintains a friendly and maybe even lighthearted tone. Depending on how “fun” your brand is and the context of the conversation, injecting humor is not a bad thing.
You’ll need to program and refine your chatbot technology to use visuals when appropriate so that it seems natural.
Use Colloquial Language
Something that sets apart a computer’s response and a person’s is the authenticity in language. Colloquial language is conversational. It’s slang. It’s informal and how real people speak.
The problem with many chatbots is that they come off as overly formal and stuffy. That can leave a user with concerns about using one again. The bottom line is that you want your customers to relate to you as a brand on a human level. One way to do this with your chatbot is to ensure they use everyday language.
You can do this by choosing a conversational interface for your chatbot. Ensure it addresses the person on the other side by his or her name. Make sure they have casual greetings and maybe even a hint of small talk. This will put the user at ease and make them more likely to engage and have a stress-free encounter.
Leverage Emotional AI
As humans, we run on emotions. There’s no way around that, and when a buyer interacts with your company, you want there to be an emotional connection (in a good way!) because that builds trust and loyalty.
So, how do you get a chatbot to show emotions in their responses? Emotional AI is an option. It uses voice, tone, and eye movement to understand how someone is feeling. Then, it can take that knowledge and formulate the best response.
In conjunction with conversational language, emotional responses demonstrate empathy. Empathy as a part of your content is critical to the customer relationship. Does it work? A Stanford University study reported that embedding emotion into chatbots generates more positive responses from customers.
While a chatbot can’t have the range of emotions of a person, it can continue to learn to be more empathetic as it completes more and more conversations.
Inject Filler Words Like in Real Conversations
Filler words are rather subconscious. Most of us don’t even realize how much we say “hm” and “um” until we hear ourselves in a recording. While public speaking coaches will try to break people of this habit, it’s again a very human part of the conversation, so maybe your chatbots should “hm” and “um” a little, too.
It’s a very natural part of expression, as our brains prepare our thoughts and responses. If your chatbot uses filler words, it will sound even more human and provide another layer of comfort to customers.
How Will You Know if Humanizing Your Bot Works?
After implementing some or all these strategies, the best thing you can do is to look at your analytics. Were chatbots more successful at resolving issues? Did users that completed a survey give positive feedback? Did you have fewer people abandon chat? Those are the metrics to track.
As the need for instant gratification continues, chatbots will play a huge role in servicing customer needs. However, consider this an opportunity to foster trust and build relationships versus just seeing it as transactional.
Check out more ways that technology can power content automation by reading our post on the role of AI in this facet of content marketing.