The Works’ Douglas Nicol: Beware The Boring Bot

The Works’ Douglas Nicol: Beware The Boring Bot
SHARE
THIS



In this guest post, The Works founder and creative partner Douglas Nicol (pictured below) says in the race to develop chatbots to interact with consumers let’s not forget to give them some personality to make them less clinical and more human like…

We’re at a tipping point in conversational marketing. More than ever we are bringing humanity and empathy to our AI and digital interactions with consumers. A thought that was once nothing more than science fiction is now one of the most discussed topics at this year’s SXSW.

Douglas Nicol 2 copy

There is no denying that chatbots, voice and AI are becoming progressively more naturalised and refined, integrating into everyday life. Although basic functional chatbot use cases are critical, naturalised conversations and character backstories are becoming critical in removing any anxiety that we may feel when talking to a machine. 

Though in light of this, you only need to look at the most recent stories about Amazon Echo’s Alexa delivering an unprompted ‘creepy laugh’ to demonstrate what happens when this character design goes horribly wrong.

It’s in our human condition to anthropomorphise everything from our cars to our dogs, so let’s leverage this insight in conversational interfaces. It takes the edge off the clinical nature of dealing with AI.

Let’s build characters, not code

The success of the natural-language bot, Eno, from the bot development team at Capital One, the US bank, is a case in point.

Typically use cases for banks are very mundane, customers checking their account balance or paying a credit card bills. Eno took this to a whole new level with a character design that made every interaction a fun and enjoyable ‘brand moment’.

Eno is a service chatbot that uses AI to respond to free-form Natural Language Processing requests from customers. The bot has true humanity, with its high IQ and EQ and has been embraced by all demographics across Capital One’s customer base.

Initially, the bot was tested with 100,000 banking customers and is currently rolling out to their millions of credit card and banking customers. 

Based on our experience of developing chatbot characters, there are three key aspects to character development:

Have the gender debate

With the chatbot development industry sadly equalling a ‘sea of dudes’, there has been a bias toward female chatbots and voice assistants. It’s fair to say, assuming a female is the subservient person in society is more 1918, then 2018. It’s important to have this gender debate and should provoke a healthy and passionate debate amongst your team.

Develop your chatbot like a TV show

Most brand guidelines have not considered the era of conversational marketing, making them woefully inadequate when creating a chatbot character that personifies the brand in some way.

When developing the character, there always should be a backstory. When Foxtel approached us to help sustain engagement to their Australian prison drama Wentworth, we knew our chatbot needed a strong backstory, like the characters in the show. So, we created the Wentworth Rat bot, a prison snitch armed with a contraband phone and a backstory that allowed it to become a natural extension of the show itself. 

Interestingly, the producer and copywriter for Eno comes from a TV drama background and this has helped make Eno a fully formed character. Consider your character attributes like; Where did your bot character come from? What does it believe in? What is its worldview? What are its character flaws? And what does it like to do? Like any human, these are the things that shape who we are as people, warts and all.

Build a differentiated dictionary

Finally, and probably most importantly, what are the words and symbols that your bot uses and doesn’t use? This dictionary of words, sounds and emoji’s set the tone for the conversation and whether you get a return visit.

We have allowed our Wentworth Rat to take on the prison persona with a full vocabulary of swear words. In fact, the more swear words we gave it, the greater the level of engagement we received. 

Eno also differentiates the dictionary, allowing you to pay off your credit card with a thumbs up emoji command.

 In short, the world of conversation design is a world of creativity. It’s a type of creativity that is hybrid and different to traditional linear creativity. Character design is mission critical if you want to succeed with the conversational interfaces of the future.

Please login with linkedin to comment

    Latest comments
  • Adrianne Nixon 4 months ago

    Fab Douglas. I also found it fascinating that they had a full back story for their bot. Who knew?

douglas nicol The Works

Latest News

Women In Media Profile: Naomi Shepherd
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Naomi Shepherd

Need a Monday morning pick-me-up? You could stand naked next to the office fridge or read these inspiring words.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
HooZu Appoints Rebecca Evans As Client Services Director
  • Marketing

HooZu Appoints Rebecca Evans As Client Services Director

Influencer marketing agency HooZu has announced the appointment of Rebecca Evans to the position of client services director. Evans brings diverse professional experience to the HooZu team, having worked across some of the world’s most disruptive sharing economy businesses, including Deliveroo and Uber. Formerly a business account manager at Deliveroo, Evans played a crucial role […]

Bauer Media Brands Unite Against Tampon Tax with ‘No Gender Selective Tax’ Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Media

Bauer Media Brands Unite Against Tampon Tax with ‘No Gender Selective Tax’ Campaign

Publishing player Bauer Media has announced the launch of its ‘No Gender Selective Tax campaign – a push to end what is essentially a tax on being a woman. The No Gender Selective Tax campaign is a major cross-brand initiative to remove the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from the price of tampons, pads and […]

Fairfax Announces New Partnership With Taronga Zoo, Launches ‘Wrong Skin’ Podcast
  • Media

Fairfax Announces New Partnership With Taronga Zoo, Launches ‘Wrong Skin’ Podcast

Publishing giant Fairfax Media has announced a new and exclusive partnership with Taronga Zoo, along with a new podcast series. Fairfax will bolster support for both Taronga Zoo and Western Plains Zoo via its The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun Herald, as well as through its suburban and regional networks. The new partnership builds […]

Shopper Media Group Partners With Mist To Offer New Tech & AI-Driven Capabilities
  • Advertising
  • Media

Shopper Media Group Partners With Mist To Offer New Tech & AI-Driven Capabilities

Australian retail out-of-home (OOH) business Shopper Media Group (SMG) has announced a partnership with AI-powered wireless networks provider Mist. The partnership will see SMG offer new WiFi, analytics and location-based services across the company’s portfolio of Australian shopping centres. Mist currently provides WiFi and location services using virtual Bluetooth LE technology to businesses across all […]

Indy Agency This Is Flow Wins Cruiseco’s $5 Million Media Account
  • Advertising
  • Media

Indy Agency This Is Flow Wins Cruiseco’s $5 Million Media Account

Travel organisation Cruiseco has announced the appointment of Sydney independent agency This is Flow (TIF) to handle its $5 million media account. This is the first time Cruiseco has appointed an agency, having managed its communications internally. Cruiseco is the largest and broadest distributor of cruise products in the Southern Hemisphere. With a membership base […]

APN Outdoor Takes Off With Queenstown Airport Contract
  • Advertising
  • Media

APN Outdoor Takes Off With Queenstown Airport Contract

Out-of-home media business APN Outdoor has won the tender for New Zealand’s Queenstown Airport. As part of the new agreement, APN Outdoor has flagged extensive development plans for Queenstown Airport’s advertising assets. The new contract adds Queenstown Airport to APN Outdoor’s existing portfolio of Auckland and Christchurch Airports. The media company will hire a South […]

Havas Secures Exclusive ‘Fight Of Champions’ Broadcast Rights With Foxtel For Australia & NZ
  • Media

Havas Secures Exclusive ‘Fight Of Champions’ Broadcast Rights With Foxtel For Australia & NZ

Havas Sports & Entertainment ANZ, a division of the broader global full-service agency Havas, has confirmed an exclusive deal with Foxtel to showcase the World Boxing Association (WBA) Welterweight Championship across the trans-Tasman. Billed as the ‘Fight of Champions’, Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse will square off for the WBA Welterweight belt this Sunday. Havas […]

The Question On Everybody’s Lips At Cannes: How Did Tesco Win The Grand Prix Media Lion?
  • Media
  • Opinion

The Question On Everybody’s Lips At Cannes: How Did Tesco Win The Grand Prix Media Lion?

In this guest post, PHD’s Chloe Hooper (pictured below) analyses the campaign that claimed top honours in the Media category at Cannes this year. I sat in the auditorium as the Cannes Media Lion winners for 2018 were awarded. One thing became instantly clear to me: it is all about taking home Gold or the Grand Prix. […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
MINI Australia Showcases New ‘Connected’ Vehicles Via Vizeum & Posterscope
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

MINI Australia Showcases New ‘Connected’ Vehicles Via Vizeum & Posterscope

An integrated campaign by Vizeum Melbourne for MINI Australia’s new ‘Connected’ vehicles will see digital out-of-home (DOOH) served via Posterscope’s Liveposter platform. Delivered centrally, the campaign will showcase the flexible qualities DOOH provides via multiple creatives targeted with specific data overlays such as location, traffic, time of day, and weather triggers such as rain. The […]

Women In Media Profile: Lisa Sheehan
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Lisa Sheehan

The delightful Lisa Sheehan straps into B&T's "cage of truth" we actually prefer to call our Women in Media profiles.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
News Corp, Storyful & Fox Sports Join Forces To Support AIME Hoodie Day
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing
  • Media

News Corp, Storyful & Fox Sports Join Forces To Support AIME Hoodie Day

News Corp Australia, Storyful and Fox Sports have joined forces in support of 2018 AIME Hoodie Day with a creative advertising, PR, social media and editorial campaign across print, digital, and broadcast media. Fox League presenter Hannah Hollis (pictured above) fronts the AIME Hoodie Day campaign, conceptualised, designed and created by News Corp’s trade marketing […]

Storyation Finalist For Global Content Marketing Agency Of The Year
  • Marketing

Storyation Finalist For Global Content Marketing Agency Of The Year

Sydney content marketing agency Storyation has been named a finalist for global Content Marketing Agency of the Year in the Content Marketing Association Awards in the US.  The only Australian agency on the short-list, Storyation was founded by two former Fairfax Media executives Lauren Quaintance (right in photo) and Mimi Cullen (left) and its clients include Tourism […]

Jaden Social Claims Integrated Marketing Tender For NSW Schools Spectacular
  • Marketing

Jaden Social Claims Integrated Marketing Tender For NSW Schools Spectacular

Jaden Social has been awarded the tender to handle integrated marketing for the NSW Schools Spectacular. The agreement will see Jaden Social manage marketing, media, digital and social across the 2018 to 2020 productions of Schools Spectacular, held at Qudos Bank Arena in November. Jaden Social underwent a competitive pitch to secure the account, in […]

APD Australia Appoints New Head Of Digital Product & Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Technology

APD Australia Appoints New Head Of Digital Product & Strategy

Digital transformation business APD has announced the appointment of Chris Butterworth as its Australian head of digital product and strategy. Based in Melbourne, Butterworth (pictured above) will be responsible for building on APD’s owned media team, growing its range of services and developing cross-channel products. Butterworth joins APD from Reprise Digital, where he was most […]

Apparent Appoints Joint Creative Directors From Within
  • Marketing

Apparent Appoints Joint Creative Directors From Within

Customer engagement agency Apparent has promoted Michelle Turchini and Simon Bloomfield to the newly created roles of joint creative directors, following strong business growth. Over the past 12 months, the independent Sydney agency has increased its staff to more than 60 people and moved into larger offices off the back of new and organic business […]

Targus Reinvigorates Brand Across The Trans-Tasman With First-Ever OOH Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Targus Reinvigorates Brand Across The Trans-Tasman With First-Ever OOH Campaign

Targus Australia New Zealand has today unveiled its first-ever out-of-home media campaign to show off the brand’s fresh look and reinvigorated proposition. Showcasing how Targus connects people and technology, the campaign has been developed by the local arm of international independent brand design agency SomeOne, alongside a media strategy developed in collaboration with Sydney-based agency […]

Bedshed Reveals What Aussies Get Up To In Their Bedrooms In Fresh Campaign By Rare Perth
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Bedshed Reveals What Aussies Get Up To In Their Bedrooms In Fresh Campaign By Rare Perth

Last year, Bedshed commissioned a nationwide survey asking people right across the country what they get up to in the privacy of their bedrooms. It then gathered all the personal revelations together into a report, and now they’re sharing those details with everyone in Australia. The Bedroom Report reveals everything from our favourite sleeping positions […]

MediaMath Secures $US225 Million In New Funding
  • Advertising
  • Technology

MediaMath Secures $US225 Million In New Funding

Programmatic advertising player MediaMath has announced an integrated set of initiatives designed to advance the next generation architecture for digital marketing. The company is unveiling a range of investments in technology, people and relationships, as well as US$225 million in new financing, to accelerate its mission to connect marketers with consumers in a manner that […]

Christie Spaces Chooses The Wired Agency To Lead Digital Marketing
  • Marketing

Christie Spaces Chooses The Wired Agency To Lead Digital Marketing

Co-working space company Christie Spaces has announced the appointment of The Wired Agency as its new digital marketing agency in Australia. Tasked with maximising campaign performance through their trademarked hyper-segmentation and hyper-optimisation techniques, The Wired Agency will be leading search advertising, display advertising, and SEO for Christie Spaces. The company exists to provide a space […]

Realestate.com.au & Mazda Unveil Property Construction Video Series
  • Marketing
  • Media

Realestate.com.au & Mazda Unveil Property Construction Video Series

Property website realestate.com.au has launched a video series showcasing the trials and tribulations of an epic demolition and transformation by interior stylist and well-known Instagrammer Catherine Hegarty. The Heraghty family bulldozed their quaint weatherboard in Sydney to make way for a duplex, which will be the focus of the 2 in Twelve series, which you […]

Jimmy Brings & Spotify Curate Limited Edition Wine & Music Pairings Via Eleven
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Jimmy Brings & Spotify Curate Limited Edition Wine & Music Pairings Via Eleven

Eleven has worked with alcohol delivery service Jimmy Brings and Spotify to launch three limited edition wines that marry perfectly with music. The Songmelier Edition range features an Australian sparkling, sauvignon blanc and reserve shiraz, each paired with a Spotify playlist accessible via a code on the label. Wine lovers can simply scan the code […]

IPG’s 303 MullenLowe Appoints WA Creative Duo
  • Advertising

IPG’s 303 MullenLowe Appoints WA Creative Duo

Interpublic Group’s 303 MullenLowe has announced the appointment of Western Australian creatives Melita Masters and Bianca Galan-Dwyer to its team. Masters (pictured above, left) and Galan-Dwyer (pictured above, right) joined forces in 2016 at The Brand Agency, quickly establishing themselves as a first-rate creative duo with their multi-award-winning campaign ‘Let’s Thursday Like We Friday’ for the […]

Top Marketers Join Forces To Explore Best Practice
  • Marketing

Top Marketers Join Forces To Explore Best Practice

Some of Sydney’s top senior marketers have banded together to form a council that aims to develop best practice around launch marketing. The Launch Marketing Council (LMC) is an initiative by global independent launch agency Five by Five and will meet twice a year to share experiences around various launch marketing topics. The panel is […]

My Top Takeaways From Programmatic Week
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

My Top Takeaways From Programmatic Week

In this guest post, Amnet MD Indy Khabra (pictured above) shares his top takeouts from Programmatic Week – a week dedicated to educating Dentsu Aegis Network staff on the very latest innovation and changes to the industry. The speed of technological disruption is accelerating. Keeping on top of the latest developments is challenging – even […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine