If artificial intelligence can solve many partner and customer challenges in the local marketing space, can AI-powered virtual assistants have a personality? The answer is yes, absolutely. Success depends on how you shape your virtual assistant’s personality and have them conduct important customer conversations.
Virtual marketing assistants are directly interacting with partners, employees, and customers with increasing frequency. Whether it’s a chatbot or an AI-powered virtual assistant, these non-human agents’ personas and personalities need to be based on the specific audience they are engaging, the context of that interaction, the knowledge requirements of that audience, and preferred delivery channels. These artificial agents shouldn’t pretend to be human. Instead, they should embrace their “bot-ness,” embracing this idea of bot transparency, to demonstrate authenticity and respect, even in regions that aren’t yet bound to do so by law.
A general, introductory virtual assistant can be used to get to know customers. Their personality is polite and detail-oriented. They engage organic traffic and start the conversation with “What brings you here today?” Their goals are to learn more about website visitors, ask the right questions, and provide guidance through that website.
Remember, 64% of consumers are more likely to interact with a chatbot than to search for an answer on a website, so website users are more often than not engaging with that chatbot to find their way around. In the process, a “getting to know you” virtual assistant demonstrates immediate value and closes the conversation with a next best step: a path to nurture messaging.
This virtual assistant has slightly different goals and a different personality. Demo drivers have a bit more subject matter expertise and are triggered deeper in the website. They can appear on a solution pages and started the conversations with something product-related like “Want to see how these widgets connect?” His goal is to help the buyer understand how a complex solution works, with the goal of automating the process of scheduling a demo to help both buyer and seller.
This virtual assistant directs with next steps. Their personality is value-oriented and efficient. They’re all business, targeting website visitors connected to an open opportunity. Focusing on prioritization and the outreach cadence, their goal is to provide value and direction, helping to progress that opportunity to the next stage by routing customers to a human representative at the right time. Being transparent about the assistant’s non-human identity also creates an added perception of value in these hybrid approaches to conversations that do cross non-human and human agent types.
As businesses and engineers think about persona development, they need to consider attributes such as job role intent, user preference, and watering holes, the knowledge domain, and subject matter expertise. These conversations and their agents need to align to the needs, the challenges, and the interests of the audience in their language. The virtual assistant’s character should be a cultural fit with the brand, have empathy for the buyers’ current state, and have the ability to understand and activate based on what motivates those diverse audiences to engage in key decisions and outcomes. Providing direction for dialogue should be based on helping both buyer and seller, while keeping in mind the immediate goals for the interaction, along with the long-term goals and business objectives for that program overall. So how do you create virtual assistants who have effective business conversations?
Creating virtual assistants who have effective business conversations requires intent and planning. Businesses benefit from utilizing philosopher Paul Grice’s helpful cooperative principle of effective conversational communication. Grice’s principle assumes that participants are truthful, informative, relevant, and clear in pursuit of a mutual goal or a direction of conversation. What better North Star can we have to guide business conversations? Let’s break this down.
Grice’s cooperative principle is divided into four maxims of conversation: quality, quantity, relation, and manner:
Truth involves transparency, expectation setting, and follow through.
It’s about being informative, so making data insights and context available across systems, using that as an input into conversation, and as an output of that interaction that helps us determine what is that next best. Make your AI conversations truthful and informative, but not more informative than they need to be for your customers and your brand. That leads to relevance.
The buying group provides additional context for B2B conversations. So we need to understand the industry, the makeup of that buying group, the role that each member plays in the decision process, and the role of those individuals. This all contributes to the specialized language that our buyers and customers use to evaluate, implement, utilize, and advocate for those solutions to their business needs. That brings us to clarity.
Once you establish what to say — the content — determine how to say it. Be clear. Language is a social construct, an expression of identity for both participants in a conversation. It’s governed by the conventions and norms that drive connection and meaning in any conversational setting, whether that’s a website to mobile app, or an online chat at a virtual event.
Taken together, these four parts of the cooperative principle of effective conversational communication can guide companies as they create a virtual assistant personality that centers the customer in the conversation.
Meaningful conversation uses the language of the individual in context of that group with its collection of personas and roles, working together to access, share, and synthesize information. Businesses need to allow users to correct any misunderstanding of intent, and consider localization requirements and cultural uses of language. Grice’s four maxims of quality, quantity, relation, and manner should guide the design and automation of conversational interactions, and the style of the virtual assistant that facilitates these conversations.
Watch the full webcast, Drive ROI With AI: The Future of Channel Marketing With a Virtual Assistant. Or, Contact BrandMuscle to find out how a virtual assistant with a distinct personality, like Markie, can have honest conversations with customers and partners to solve any challenge.