If you haven’t found yourself writing for a chatbot yet, brace yourself because you soon may be. Chatbots have arrived on the scene and marketing and customer service teams are widely adopting them. Today, you can use them to do everything from booking a flight to finding yourself a date to getting legal advice.
Forget clunky messaging and repetitive phrases. Advances in AI mean today’s chatbots are increasingly dynamic and able to engage in more human-like conversation. It’s this conversational tone and the quick, responsive interaction that appeals to customers. They like to feel that they’re dealing with a person, even though they know they aren’t.
Companies like KLM, H&M, and 1-800-Flowers know this approach works. They’ve found that chatbots create better customer satisfaction and higher conversion rates. Using them means that service times are faster. Plus, there are significant cost-savings when parts of customer service are automated. Given these and other benefits, it’s not surprising that 80 percent of businesses are estimated to start using chatbots by the end of 2020.
However, creating a great chatbot still requires the talents of a strong content writer. That person needs to be able to craft messaging and dialogue that’s accurate, personable, useful, and as close to human as possible. Here’s a quick guide to writing for a chatbot.
Develop a Character and Speak in Your Brand’s Voice
Your bot is an extension of your company’s identity. Just like your organization has a carefully crafted persona and brand voice, your bot needs to have a distinct personality. And that personality needs to come through in its messaging. Think of your bot as an ambassador for your brand and create dialogue and responses that best reflect your company’s values and mission. They can be humorous, cheerful, professional, friendly — whatever fits best with your brand. Millennial and Gen Z consumers, in particular, have grown up with advancements like Siri, and are very used to chatting with bots.
Once you’ve determined your chatbot’s character and personality, the words should flow much more easily in the bot’s own voice. It’s fine to be creative, but don’t dial up the humor too far. Conversational UI is meant to be helpful and fulfill a specific goal. Don’t let jokes distract your customer or turn your bot into a gimmick rather than a tool.
Keep It Short, Simple, and Grammatically Correct
Chatbot users generally don’t like reading long blocks of text. If your messages run on, you’ll quickly lose their interest and attention. It’s supposed to be a conversation, so allow users to talk and ask questions, rather than firing lots of text at them.
Like a conversation, you should use short sentences and break up your answers into different messages. When you do need to provide more information (such as when explaining a process or a solution), keep it step-driven and succinct.
Because there are no visual cues, every word your bot uses matters. You need to be confident in what a user would reasonably assume from your bot’s replies and advice. Ask yourself and your colleagues whether messages make sense before deploying them. Also avoid overly complicated words and phrasing, and, of course, make sure there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes. Just like content on websites and marketing material, customers hate seeing typos and poorly written content. If your chatbot communicates with errors, your customers will go elsewhere.
Don’t think you can just copy and paste existing content from your website or marketing material and recycle it into chatbot dialogue. Customers will see through this immediately. Instead, start by using the person’s name and any personal information they’ve shared and always speak in a one-to-one manner.
Your bot is a character with a personality. So don’t use dialogue that sounds like it’s out of a manual or the response of a faceless corporation. Your bot is representing your company (essentially as a person), not communicating as the company. Remember it’s a conversation, the user is talking to your bot, not reading your website or using your app. Try to create a personal connection to the person engaging with your bot.
Keep Working on It
The AI behind chatbots will continue to evolve and advance, and so should the content fueling your chatbot. It’s not a case of set it and forget it. You need to keep improving, tweaking, and revisiting your messaging to make sure you’re creating the best customer experience possible. As chatbots become more popular, customer expectations will continue to rise. Think of your bot as a living personality that has more to say and bring it to life with your content. If you can do that, you’ll be well ahead of the curve.
And for extra help developing or refining your brand voice, check out our comprehensive guide Watch Your Tone. It’s chock-full of practical advice from some of the world’s most noted tone of voice experts.