5 tips to make your chatbot sound convincing


Stefan Kojouharov

September 9, 2016

One of the most critical elements in creating a great chatbot is copywriting. The right words will keep your users engaged for hours, while the wrong ones will make them want to run for the hills. Here are four tips to write scripts for your bot that make it sound more human.

1. Be simple in a complex world

No one will read what your bot has to say. At best, they will skim it and move on. You challenge is to take something complex and boil it down to a few crucial words — and to make those words so powerful that the message sticks to the user like glue. Your chatbot should have a single-minded focus, and anything that does not adhere to this focus should be stripped away.

2. Get concrete

Have you ever wondered why Donald Trump won the Republican primary? There are many reasons, but one of the big ones is related to his word choice. If you examine Trump’s word choice and speaking style you will notice a few things almost right away.

  1. He speaks at a fourth grade level (this is crucial).
  2. He focuses on very concrete words. He uses words that you can instantly visualize that are one or two syllables long.
  3. He ends strong. Oftentimes, he’ll land on a word and repeat it a number of times because he wants to impress the word on the listener.
  4. He keeps it short and sweet. Almost all of his words and sentences are very short.

Even if you are trying to tune him out, you cannot help but understand his message. Compare this to Elon Musk talking about energy, where you have to give him your undivided attention in order to understand him.

The do’s and don’ts of chatbot writing:

  • Use concrete words people can visualize
  • Use short sentences and a lot of white space
  • Use short, one-syllable words
  • Try to keep your character count low. User should be able to read the entire message effortlessly
  • Don’t use jargon
  • Don’t use concept words like “personality”
  • Don’t send multiple messages that have multiple button options

3. Get the user’s attention

Our brains are constantly trying to predict what will happen next.

The best way to get someone’s attention is by breaking that guessing machine. As soon as your user’s guessing machine is broken, you will have their undivided attention.

In this moment, the brain is sending a “pay attention” signal. This signal is very powerful when the brain is looking for an answer. The brain’s model of reality was broken and shown to be incorrect. This offers you the opportunity to imprint a new model in their mind. When this is done properly, the person will learn something, and you will have “mind real estate.” Don’t let this opportunity slip by or solve the problem via gimmicks. To keep an audience engaged, you have to continuously open new knowledge gaps and close old ones. This will keep your audience tuned in to find out what happens next.

Comedy is a great way to break the user’s guessing machine and show them the world from a different perspective:

  1. Come back: This is when a comedian first tells you something unusual and later in the show ties their story back
  2. Misdirection: Comedians will often mislead an audience into making the wrong assumptions and then show them the right ones
  3. Yes…and: Watch any improv performance and you will see that the performers agree to what is said — no matter how ridiculous — and add to it

4. Gain credibility

Credibility is the one thing that everyone thinks they have, but most do not. Most messages fail due to lack of credibility. The best way to address the issue is via a “try before you buy” approach. Make sure your bot provides value before you assume people will want to keep using it.

5. Use emotional connections

We live in a relationship-focused world, and connecting on a deeper level is key. Even in marketing, relationships are taking center stage, and bots offer a great opportunity for very personalized relationship marketing. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Keep the benefit in mind: Don’t sell features, but instead focus on the true benefit you offer.
  2. Focus on the emotions: The bot should make your audience feel certain target emotions.
  3. Your mission: There must be a bigger reason you are doing “X.” What is your mission, your “Why”?

People like to show how smart and valuable they are. They want to be seen as knowledgeable. How do most people exhibit this? They knock others down, they correct them, they compete with them. Validation is almost always conditional, which leaves us wanting it even more. One of the best things you can do is to validate people and give them unconditional positive regard. This will, in turn, foster a very strong connection and relationship.

Like a psychologist, chatbots can give unconditional positive regard to people, which, in many cases, will foster a very strong emotional connection, and even feelings of love. We all have an “ideal self-image” in mind — a more perfect version of us. We try to live up to this image and oftentimes judge our own behavior based on it.

When crafting the perfect message it is important to:

  1. Consider who the audience is: Bots are generally targeted at a specific demographic, which will determine the appropriate tone.
  2. Consider who the audience wants to be: Play into the user’s ideal self-image.

You can use the “Why” to connect your core mission, values, and message to your audience’s ideal self-image. If you do that, your bot will connect on a deeper level.

This article was written by Stefan Kojouharov from VentureBeat and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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