Should your bot have human-like qualities? As the global bot population grows and grows, it’s a question that’s becoming increasingly common amongst today’s technologists.

The truth is, chatbots are most effective when the people who interact with them not only recognize patterns in conversation but also like the bot. Most product designers would agree that conversational applications need to have something resembling a human personality or human attributes in order to produce that warm and fuzzy effect.

While your audience and market will drive specific characteristics of your bot’s persona, here are 7 design considerations that every bot maker should incorporate in order to stand out, rise above the crowd, and delight users into coming back to chat some more.

Personable

Nobody wants to feel like they are talking to a robot, and a chatbot free of human-like characteristics will end up being a boring bot. Chatbots are most engaging when they behave with a personality, making them relatable and enjoyable.

A bot that helps diagnose health issues, like HealthTap, or one that helps to improve mental health, such as Woebot, will have a very different tone than a bot dedicated to empowering sales teams (like ours here at Kiite). But no matter your chosen bot characteristics, an element of personability promises to leave a positive impression on your users.

Trustworthy

Trust and loyalty are significant factors to consider when mixing humans and artificial intelligence. Because conversational AI is still a new concept for most people, there are many misconceptions about the idea of chatbots entering the consumer market. Many people are unaware of when they are speaking with a bot versus a human, which can make the service provider seem disingenuous. It is imperative to be honest with your user up front by setting expectations and being transparent throughout interactions. A person aware that they are conversing with a bot will be more forgiving when it comes to response error. As chatbots become customary, consumer trust and familiarity will build over time.  

Accessible

It’s essential to build a chatbot that never sleeps, and is available 24/7 through multiple technology channels and communication mediums like text and voice. Fortunately, most bots are unaffected by time zones or hours of operation. The ability to access information and ask questions anytime, anywhere, is vital, especially in service-based e-commerce or virtual assistant bots.

Responsive

Quick response time is critical. If your bot slows a person down, your users won’t get value from it. A slow response time will end the conversation and negatively impact engagement.

Proactive

A chatbot that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, like answer your questions, can leave you frustrated. That’s why we built crowdsourcing into Kiite. When it does not have the answer, it will seek out the information for you by proactively and anonymously surveying your colleagues.  

As conversational technologies develop, bots will learn faster and become smarter, but in the meantime, it’s important to offer alternative information procurement methods to ensure user satisfaction. A chatbot that initiates a conversation will also increase the number of bot interactions, knowledge sharing, and learning.    

Consistency

The number one rule in Schneiderman’s “Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design,” is to strive for consistency. In other words, your bot should have an intended purpose, and consistently do a good job fulfilling that purpose. Bots aren’t intended to do what people are already good at doing; rather, bots are intended to help by improving on what humans are poor or inefficient at doing. For example, a user can ask Kiite for help finding the latest sales deck, and Kiite will provide the latest sales deck instantly in chat, which eliminates the need to spend five minutes or five hours searching for it.

Respectful

Although chat within the workplace has endless benefits, chat applications can also be distracting and disruptive throughout the workday if not used correctly. Bots should be designed with this in mind. Interactions should be short, precise and used sparingly. Giving the user the option to opt-out or decline a conversation is respecting their time.

Using inclusive and non-discriminatory language should be at the top of the design priority list to ensure a respectful user experience for everyone. And, if your bot is proactive and starts conversations, it’s important to design those features to avoid unwelcome interruptions.

Above all, it’s about striking the right balance and providing real value to your users, which means a strong product is always the top priority!

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