Build-A-Bot 102: Creating a Personality – Hacker Noon

Last week, we did a deep dive into the high level properties that go into building a robot, from deciding whether it would be consumer or business-focused, to creating it on a voice or text platform. Just as important as deciding on the building blocks of how the robot will work, is the decisions that go into creating its unique personality. After deciding upon the context in which the robot will be used, it is vital to create traits that will optimize its value for the user. For kea, our bot’s job is to automatically take phone orders for restaurants, and we want our bot to have a personality that makes that easy. Here are the considerations we kept in mind building that personality:

Environment

The first decision that goes into building a bot personality is actually the same one that goes into deciding on its high-level properties: whether the focus will be consumer or business-oriented. A consumer-facing bot might be more humorous, have freedom to get off-topic, and will likely have a more developed personality than a business bot as a result. Even if the bot is purely consumer-facing, certain adjustments need to be made based on the context. For example, a therapy bot that is helping users through a tough time, should be empathetic and know to avoid humor.

Audience

The first and most important point to make here: there is never a case in which everyone is the right audience- not even for super bots like Google. A voice bot that is used by more mature audience might want to avoid using social media acronyms and slang, like HMU or WFH. For example, the audience for the Meekan scheduling bot that reminds users of meetings will be different than that for Dom, Domino’s nifty pizza-ordering bot. Bot personalities should reflect the specific needs of its audience.

Jobs to be done

Fandango’s Facebook Messenger Bot

A bot can be responsible for any number of tasks, from sending out important weather alerts when necessary, to suggesting a dinner recipe, and so much more. For each job that needs to be done, even those that very slightly, entirely different approaches are needed in order to be successful. Some bots even do several jobs, like Fandango’s Facebook messenger bot which shows trailers and suggest nearby theaters based on zip code. For kea, the task at hand is simple: take phone orders for hungry customers at restaurants, quickly and painlessly. Let’s eat!

Runtime Variations

Even within one bot personality, there might be distinctions in the ways that bot handles tasks, depending on the context. For example, a bot that delivers news should have a different tone when sharing an adorable video about playful puppies, than when sharing the news of a fatal plane accident. In some cases, like Sephora’s Kik app that teaches makeup tutorials, there will not be any runtime variations and the personality mostly stays the same.

Locally Relevant Social Acceptance

Factors like geographic location, socio-economic status, and other factors must be considered when deciding on the most appropriate culture for the bot’s personality. What might be a term of endearment for one locality, could be completely off-putting for another. For example, titles like “dude” or “sweetie,” resonate differently depending on the social acceptance in the specific culture. However, some bots like Siri interact with a wide variety of cultures and must have a broad spectrum of social acceptance covered.

Existing Branding

Domino’s “Dom Juan”

For every company that utilizes a bot, it is crucial that the bot is a direct reflection of the existing branding. That includes social media tone, website content, and voice used in the press and in marketing collateral. For example, Domino’s brand personality is youthful, helpful and efficient. This is then reflected in the Dom pizza-ordering bot, when it remarks that it’s making your “scrumptious” order or even creating its own Tinder profile under “Dom Juan.”

Values

What makes your bot tick? This is a question that is inherently answered by considering the service you provide. For concierge-bot, Magic, the service is basically anything you want, from finding an exotic food to booking an acrobat act for a last minute party. The bot’s personality reflects the “can-do” attitude of its service with responses like “consider it done” to even the most complicated requests.

Ready to build your own robot? We hope we’ve shown you the way. Just remember that at the core of your bot’s personality is your company: it’s vision, goals, and values. For kea, that is making the restaurant owner’s job easier, while getting hungry customers their food without delay. We want our bot to be friendly, helpful, and humorous, without forgetting how important it is to get customers fed faster.

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