How to Pick Your Chatbot Tone of Voice in 5 Steps
No more robotic answers. Pick your chatbot's tone of voice to strike dazzling conversations with customers.
Written by Marvin Espino
How do you make your chatbots human?
One of the pressing challenges of chatbots is that they sound like themselves — like robots.
That’s why the chatbot industry has tried to answer this dilemma: “How can we create a smooth experience where customers feel like they’re talking to a brand employee.”
Sure, AI and big data have made chatbots way better at answering customer questions. But there’s still work to do on how they deliver those answers.
The problem with most chatbots is not WHAT they say but rather HOW they say it. And it’s a problem that can be fixed easily by zeroing in on the chatbot’s tone of voice.
You see, chatbots, just like any kind of robot, rely on their owners’ protocols: a set of rules to govern their behavior before they can actually interact with any visitors.
One of these protocols is their responses to certain questions, and in more advanced cases, the ability to create new phrases and sentences based on previous style templates.
These templates are key to how they will answer the questions and queries of the site visitors— whether in informal or formal style, humorous or urgent, short and prompt, or long and explanatory.
In other words, the success of a chatbot depends on its tone of voice.
Branding aims to make a business stand out. Apart from the logo design, color, and font, the copy is also a perfect avenue for branding. The copy, and its inherent characteristics such as the tone of voice, enable the brand to project its identity in words.
Think Apple’s take on uniqueness with the “Think Different” slogan, perfect for encapsulating their famously known short and concise copy and the idea that as a company they challenge the status quo.
The copy should be different from its competitors and from other enterprises. Otherwise, your customers won’t see you as the new kid on the block, but rather as the same old business with no unique things to offer.
And you don’t want to be viewed as a generic startup. As much as possible, you want to generate interest, attention, engagement, and of course, sales.
Being unique or somehow interesting in your tone of voice compared to other brands will help you achieve that goal.
But the tone of voice of your brand is actually the result of a much deeper understanding of the brand. It’s relevant to its identity.
There’s a reason why big brands present themselves in such a way. It’s their identity to be funny, their identity to be formal, their identity to be short and prompt!
For instance, Nike’s motivating tone in all of their copies relates to their slogan “Just do it”, a motivating short line.
Converse gears for comfort with their “Converse for Comfort” line with all their websites saying it’s fun to be young and wild.
These words are carefully chosen with a goal. They need to reflect the identity of the brand, and the reasons for its existence. Without this goal, the brand is a hodgepodge of different identities. It could be mistaken for a different brand, or worse a dupe and untrustworthy.
This brand tone that we’re talking about applies to chatbots. They are like brand copies and slogans, only in conversation form, delivered by a bot. That’s the only difference.
But in many ways, they also act like an extension of a brand just like logos, fonts, colors, and images do.
Now that we know the value of a chatbot’s tone of voice and its importance to branding and identity, how do we pick one?
1. Understand your brand identity
As expected, you need to figure out your brand identity. What is your story? Why are you made? What is your differentiating factor compared to other brands out there?
What are your mission, vision, and goals? What are your personality and characteristics? Remember that a brand acts like a person. So, imagine your brand as a wonderful persona that people would love to talk to.
In answering all these questions, you can better create your tone of voice. Will it be super formal and rigid? Will it be reckless and fun? Or will it be in the middle?
An effective chatbot is an extension of your brand’s uniqueness. They amplify your standout features more. So feel free to pinpoint your ideal features. And let that reflect on your chatbots.
2. Get to know your target audience
Although your identity plays a big part in your chatbot’s tone of voice, it’s not the only significant factor at play. Your target audience — the one at the end of the conversation — will surely impact your chatbot creation.
And for a good reason, your audience holds the money and pays the price for your services. So, as much as possible, you want your chatbots to provide a seamless, amicable, and helpful experience for these buyers. Remember that you provide solutions.
So do you know how to solve customer problems? You first need to listen well. Go and join the forums, social media, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Amazon, customer interviews, on-site surveys, and lastly, review your conversations with your customers.
By listening to their conversations, you can understand how your potential customers speak. You will know the dominant emotions in their conversation whether it’s dork or neutral, etc. And most importantly, you will catch up on their preferred tone of voice. And by knowing their tone, you can now confidently conceptualize how your chatbots will maneuver the conversation.
Another technique to consider when picking the tone is to use your audience’s keywords. Words as we know might have the same meaning but different impacts, levels of formality, and subtle connotations. The keywords that your customers use in their conversations are the perfect one to use because it’s the ones they expect to hear and the ones they understand quite clearly.
3. Research your competitors
The third strategy for building the tone of voice is through competitor research. Of course, you don’t want to be mistaken as another shoe brand or beauty guru. How can you stand out if you don’t understand the rest of the crowd? So, apart from researching your customers, you need to do a deep dive of your competitors too.
See what is lacking in their chatbots and make it an opportunity to improve yours. Get a clear picture of how their bot speaks so you can create one that is entirely different and therefore, unique.
Research some problems that arise when customers use their chatbots and develop an outstanding one that addresses this dilemma.
4. Develop a chatbot persona
We see this trend everywhere. A brand uses a certain name for its chatbot and makes it seem like it’s a person or an employee of the business. This is a good strategy because, from the customer’s perspective, It is easier to communicate with a seemingly real person than a computer.
Although naming your chatbot won’t automatically humanize their responses, it would be a good conversation starter. Don’t go after generic names though, and a difficult one won’t help either. Strike a balance between something special and simple.
It doesn’t end there. This chatbot needs to have a personality. Some personalities to consider are loving, charming, friendly, straightforward, humorous, formal, rigid, oversharer, questioning, dependable, and more. It can be one and a combination of all personality types, depending on your previous research.
When previous steps have been done, time to create your chatbot messages. These messages will serve as the template for your chatbots when answering customer concerns. it includes the introduction up until the time they transfer the conversation to a human agent…
To create effective chatbot messages, you need to consider the following steps:
- Determine the goals of your chatbot: What do you want your chatbot to achieve? What types of customer concerns or questions do you want it to address? This will help you pick the types of chatbots as well as create messages that are relevant and effective.
- Write clear and concise messages: Make sure that your chatbot messages are easy to understand and get straight to the point. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may confuse customers.
- Use a friendly and conversational tone: Customers are more likely to engage with a chatbot if it sounds friendly and approachable. Write your messages in a conversational tone that makes customers feel like they’re having a conversation with a human. Create conversational landing pages to make it dissolve bounce rates too.
- Personalize your messages: Where possible, use personalization to make customers feel that their concerns are being heard and addressed. For example, you could use the customer’s name or reference previous interactions they’ve had with your chatbot. Customize each chatbot depending on where they can be accessed, e.g, chatbot for website, chatbot for social media, etc.
- Provide clear next steps: Make sure that your chatbot messages include clear instructions for the customer on what they should do next. This could include information on how to complete a task, or when and how to transfer the conversation to a human agent.
- Test and refine your messages: Once you’ve created your chatbot messages, test them out and gather feedback from customers. Use this feedback to refine your messages and make any necessary changes to improve their effectiveness.
5. Test and refine your chatbots
So you’ve created your chatbot messages and you’re feeling pretty good about them, huh? Well, that’s great, but now it’s time to see how they’re really going to perform.
Get a few customers to try out the messages and see what they think. And don’t be afraid to ask for their feedback, this is your chance to make any improvements and really fine-tune your chatbot.
Use their input to make any necessary changes, maybe they’ll suggest some tweaks to the wording or the tone, or maybe they’ll have some new chatbot ideas for better messages. Whatever they suggest, listen and make the improvements.
This testing and refining process is key to delivering the best possible experience for your customers. And who knows, you might even end up with some happy customers who love chatting with your chatbot. So go ahead, give it a try!
By keeping these steps in mind, you’ll be able to craft chatbot messages that truly resonate with your customers. No more robotic replies or generic answers. The chatbots can not only handle customer concerns easily but also leave them feeling satisfied.
So, don’t hold back! Start putting these steps into action and see your chatbot soar! Your customers will be grateful for the improvement.
And remember, the ultimate goal is to provide a smooth and positive experience for everyone who interacts with your chatbot. And with a little bit of effort, you can make that a reality.