More of a Chat, Less of a Bot. Tips on Creating the Perfect Chatbot Tone of Voice
Business retailers have numerous possibilities to stay in touch with their prospects and conduct communication quickly and efficiently. It’s fair to say that the atmosphere created in online space can predetermine success or failure in almost every case.
Providing instant replies and support might not be enough to ensure the best customer experience. The manner of how you do the talking is gradually moving to the foreground. But firstly, let’s define what a tone of voice in communication is.
What is a tone of voice?
In the common understanding, a tone of voice is the way a person is speaking to someone. In a more narrow context, like business and marketing, the concept refers to how you communicate your brand’s identity to the audience. So, basically, not what you say, but how you say it is at the forefront.
A tone of voice usually conveys all the main goals, values, and principles of a company. It also highlights the idea of your brand’s existence. As once said, “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it,” right? It’s essential to design all your business content using one way of delivering the information, thus, creating messaging consistency.
After identifying a company’s values and principles, you can gradually move towards creating a unique way of brand expression. Nielsen Norman Group structured this seemingly endless universe of the tone of voice possibilities into four main categories — humor, formality, attitude, and enthusiasm. Your tone of voice can fall either into one of the extremes of the following dimensions or stay somewhere in between, creating a more natural impression. Let’s have a closer look at each of the points.
- Humor — funny vs. serious. It depends on whether you insert any jokes, puns, or use precise and exact wording while delivering a brand’s message.
- Formality — formal vs. casual. The formal language implies a sense of sophistication and clarity, while a casual communication style brings you closer to a customer.
- Enthusiasm — enthusiastic vs. matter-of-fact. You can choose a more emotional or rather reserved approach to deliver a message.
Let’s have a look and analyze Chubbies’ tone of voice according to the above-stated parameters. The way they communicate with their community via email is rather casual. It tends to be more humorous, rather than serious. An enthusiastic approach contemplates their bright and colorful brand design. Although Chubbies’ tone of voice is rather informal, they still show a respectful attitude towards their customers.
An example of an email from Chubbies. Source: Chubbies
Why does a brand’s tone of voice matter?
Anyway, why is a tone of voice important? At present, the digital world is overcrowded with endless companies and brands. It’s not an easy job to stand out. Developing a brand tone of voice is vital for recognition among other business retailers. Here are some key reasons that explain its importance from different angles.
- Consistency. The audience expects a clear picture of a brand image. If you choose a formal tone of voice on one occasion and an informal one on another, it can be confusing. Consistency helps customers and leads obtain a better understanding of a brand in general and, therefore, enables a closer relationship between a business and its customers.
- Engagement. Your tone of voice plays a major role when you want to connect with the public. It’s responsible for how people will perceive your brand.
- Differentiation. Having a distinctive tone of voice means having a personality. If your brand’s tone of voice matches your business concept, that’s how people will remember you out of millions.
- Revenue. According to Lucidpress findings, a stable and consistent image brand contributes to revenue growth. So basically, 68% report that brand consistency contributed from 10% to more than 20% of their income increase.
Contribution of brand consistency to their revenue. Source: Lucidpress
Why is having a tone of voice important for your chatbot?
Having understood the importance of a clear tone of voice for a brand, you shouldn’t forget about the chatbot on your website either.
Scripted responses occupy a significant place when setting up a chatbot, as it makes communication between your clients and brand possible at all times. At the same time, impersonal and unnatural replies conceal risks to a smooth and seamless customer experience.
Since launching a chatbot equals creating a fully-fledged company representative, giving a certain tone of voice makes it set for further interactions. Therefore, a well-thought-out chatbot design will ensure the consistency of your messages and make sure they complement your brand image.
As with any feature on your website, it’s critical that everything fits into the whole concept of your business and displays its uniqueness properly. An authentic chatbot tone of voice will not only help your brand stand out against others, but is also more likely to linger in customers’ minds.
Language, expressive punctuations, and emoji directly connect to users’ perceptions and attitudes towards a chatbot. Researchers from University College Dublin revealed a study on how the tone of voice affects communication. It suggests that dealing with a chatbot with an eradicated robotic effect was described as ‘engaging’ and ‘personalized.’
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Tips on creating a chatbot with a tone of voice
The process of creating a chatbot itself isn’t overcomplicated, but animating it with a certain tone of voice is not always straightforward. However, it is an essential step before introducing your chatbot to the masses. So, let’s look at some hacks that will help your bot catch the eye in this digital diversity.
Identify your core values
Well-established brand values and mission are helpful when it comes to shaping your brand’s tone of voice. Start by answering the questions about the primary aim that your business pursues, why it was launched, what you want to communicate to your audience, and, ultimately, what the primary goal of your chatbot is. After that, it will get clearer what tone of voice to use to highlight your uniqueness.
For example, one of the mission pillars of Skype is simplicity. They highlight it in their mission statement, like “make stuff simpler and easier because there are enough useless buttons in the world already.” It reflects clearly on the way they chose to communicate their brand to the audience: “If your mum couldn’t understand what is being written, then it’s not the Skype voice.”
Skype’s tone of voice guidelines. Source: Skype
Know your target audience
Your customer base is an integral component of your business revenue. Knowing their preferences and expectations can help you build the right chatbot that will enhance their customer experience.
The next point is creating an overall marketing persona. This refers to a document that incorporates all the relevant information about your target audiences, like demographics, needs, or any other details. After that, consider analyzing some previous interactions via emails, phone, or other support mediums you use. This will give you insight into the most frequent inquiries and the tendencies in interaction originating from users themselves.
Choose your representative
So basically, at this point, you can already do drafts for your business chatbot communication tone. For example, choose whether you’ll introduce your bot as an organizational brand voice or as an ambassador persona. Settling on a persona type means that you create a brand representative with its own name and personality. An organization brand voice is something more general that refers to a voice for your entire organization.
For example, a Canadian airline, WestJet, provides a chatbot to help visitors with trip planning. Their chatbot introduces itself as Juliet, which creates an impression of talking to a real airline assistant.
An example of a chatbot. Source: WestJet
Lay out your message architecture
Now that you’ve chosen a brand representative for your chatbot, it’s time to consider the messages themselves. This step is closely intertwined with your brand’s mission and values. Think about establishing some rules about the language at first.
- Grammar — how closely are you going to stick to the grammar rules? Would you like to craft them in formal APA style, or would you rather break the rules and amplify the humorous effect instead?
- Vocabulary — to what extent are you going to use terms or slang, for example? Does your main customer segment consist of professionals in a particular sphere, or do you talk to a more general customer audience?
- Addressing — will there be many situations when you’ll be addressing your brand and customers in messages directly? If yes, would you instead use a formal, third-person voice or stick to other pronouns like “we” and “you” to mention yourself or the customer?
Just have a look atInsomnobot-3000 launched by Casper, a sleep products retailer. They aim to provide a virtual conversationalist for those who face insomnia once in a while. The tone of voice is relatively informal, as the language itself is casual and hints at being like an everyday chat with a friend.
An example of a chatbot by Casper. Source: Insomnobot
Test it through real conversations
Chatbots are for humans. That’s why it’s important to test them in real interactions with people. Also, think about the marketing platform you are going to work with. For example, 13Chats allows you to choose from an abundance of customer scenarios that you can change anytime without special coding skills. So, if you find any flaws or any points that don’t fulfill the expectations after the testing, you can easily change them to a more natural bot fit instead.
To sum up, a clearly defined tone of voice is generally important for your business and is an essential component of your chatbot too. Before launching a bot, try to get as detailed an understanding as possible concerning your business values and goals, target audience, and the message you want to project onto the masses.
Hopefully, some of the tips mentioned in this article will help you create a memorable experience for your prospects and strengthen your loyal customer base day by day. Join 13Chats to create a perfect chatbot and express your brand’s individuality with your unique tone of voice!