So, you decided to boost your small business and are creating a chatbot. 24 hours a day, your chatbot will qualify leads, take orders, answer customer questions, and do a bunch of other important things that you don’t have enough time for. But what if we told you that all these plans could fall apart if your chatbot turns out to be an impersonal machine? Keep reading to discover why creating an avatar for your chatbot is so important and learn the art of chatbot humanizing.
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Attitude towards Chatbots
First things first, are people, in general, okay that chatbots answer them on websites and in messengers? Well, actually it depends. Generally, people are okay with chatbots if the bot can:
- Answer their questions correctly and in a helpful way
- Understand and reply to their needs in a natural way
- Be nice and respectful
- Admit when it doesn't know the answer
To make chatbots more user-friendly, let people know it's a bot, allow easy switching to a live chat with a human agent, and improve it based on user feedback. It seems that if your chatbot is a good one, there is not the slightest need to try to pass it off as a human. Then why should you care about your chatbot's avatar? Why is it and chatbot humanizing needed at all?
In 1996, Microsoft released the fifth Office 97 for Windows. In addition to the usual programs like Word and Excel, they offered users the virtual assistant Clippy. It showed up when the program thought the user could use some help. It could guid you on how to use Office better, find instructions in Help, or use Office wizards. It gave tips and keyboard shortcuts, and in general, was a cute little thing — it seemed that with Clippy complex office programs, and the whole computer came alive and turned into a friendly being.
The idea to create Clippy did not come out of nowhere. It was based on a study at Stanford University which found that the same part of our brain that we use for the mouse and keyboard also controls how we feel when we talk to other people. So, Microsoft thought if people react to computers like they do to real people, it would be helpful to add a human-like face in their software.
Unfortunately, Clippy failed. Its anthropomorphism created high expectations for the user regarding their intelligence and ability to help. The expectations that were not met.
Well, it's 2023 and technology has come a long way since 1996. Chatbots are much smarter than Clippy — and especially AI-driven ones. They can connect with a human on a deeper level. While the human brain generally works the same.
Benefits of a Chatbot's Avatar
Surely, today we can say that an avatar for a chatbot is useful:
It makes the chat engaging: Avatars make the chatbot more real. They make people feel like they're talking to a human. This makes them more engaged and happy, making the chat experience fun and effective.
It represents your brand: A well-made avatar can act like a virtual version of your business, showing off your brand and becoming a strong way to promote it. If the avatar matches your brand's style and your target audience, it can help customers feel more connected to your online helper.
It enriches personalization: Chatbots personalize the customer's experience. They listen to each person's needs and give them relevant advice and personalized responses. Avatars enhance personalization. They create a more human-like and empathetic interaction, making people feel understood and valued.
It helps you know your customers better: Chatbots can collect and study information about your customers, giving you insights into their habits and needs. Using an avatar can make these chats deeper, leading to more precise and valuable customer data.
This is interesting: It's no secret that many people are worried about privacy when they have personal information with chatbots. However, some studies show that if a chatbot seems more human-like, with a name and picture, and talks to users in a personal way, it may lessen these privacy worries and increase trust. Also, if a bot is presented as female, it can seem more human-like and people may be more accepting of it.
In short, dealing with a fictional character is much more pleasant than dealing with an impersonal conversational interface. That's why people value a «human touch» in their interaction with chatbots.
Chatbot Humanizing: Best Practices
A chatbot's avatar is just one of its components. Almost like icing on the cake. And if you want to humanize your chatbot and make it more personal, then an avatar alone is not enough.
Language style is the thing you really should pay attention to. Use casual language and friendly words to make the chatbot sound more like a human talking. Teach your bot to use local phrases and how to joke.
Also, be informal. For this use non-verbal linguistic cues:
- Emoticons: 💁 😃
- Capital letters: BYE, THANKS
- Sound mimicking: Aww, woohoo
- Informal punctuation: ???, !!!
Verbal linguistic cues help you be informal too:
- Contractions and Shortenings: That’s, ASAP
- Active (versus passive) voice: Do you want to change something about your order?
- Informal vocabulary: Great, awesome
- Present tense: Do
Don't be afraid to be too informal. Studies show that when a chatbot talks in a casual way, people feel more «social presence». This makes the interaction better and also improves brand attitude.
Avoid saying the same thing over and over again and have many different responses ready.
Apart from the avatar and language style, there's another tiny detail that can humanize your chatbot. It's clear that one of the main tasks of a chatbot is to provide prompt answers to customer questions. However, scientists have found that faster is not always better. Chatbots that wait a bit before responding make the customer experience better because they seem more like a human and more natural.
For this reason, when you create a chatbot in a builder, such as our TruVISIBILITY Chat, be sure to specify the delay time in your bot's settings. Remember the «Someone is typing...» line? That's what we are talking about.
Nobody wants to talk to an impersonal man. Unless they are standard nerds like Sheldon Cooper or Moss. Heard about them? That's why your chatbot should have an avatar. It can not only represent your brand but also make the chat more engaging. At the same time, since the avatar contributes to the humanization of the chatbot, it deepens the customer-to-chatbot interaction making it feel more human.
But don't think that using a pic is enough. Your bot should not only have a human face but also a human voice. Alter its language style, use linguistic cues and behavioral details like response delay — chatbots are quick guys, but it takes them some time to type their answers too.
To learn more about creating chatbots, read our article 5 Steps to Build a Chatbot for Your Small Business. And just try to make one using our TruVISIBILITY Chat application.
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