Published on August 16th 2021
Author: Esha Metiary
Conversation designer at Crossphase
Small talk plays a crucial part in creating a social connection. Within a chatbot, the option for casual conversation creates engagement, which will then ideally turn into customer loyalty.
Also, there’s the argument that you should no longer view your chatbot as a binary piece of software to improve automation rate, but rather as a vital employee and brand ambassador of your company. Small talk that’s on point is a key element to creating that brand ambassadorship with the bot. Smart bots create trust.
Now, the majority of your users will probably use your bot for its supported use cases to solve a problem. However, there will also be a significant group that will test the capabilities of the bot.
A bot answering simple questions like ‘How’s the weather’ or ‘What’s your name’ with ‘I don’t understand’ simply won’t cut it anymore. There are a bunch of data sets and API’s available that provide your bot with that little bit of extra depth and give your users a lot of extra joy. Basically, there’s no excuse not to include small talk.
The data sets and API’s only give factual answers, which of course can be fun, but sometimes your users will desire a more opinionated answer.They will ask your bot what their stance on X or Y is. Nowadays it’s almost required for your brand to be socially responsible and engaged, which means that your bot should be too.
A couple conditions apply when creating this kind of small talk.
Not to worry, I’ll provide you with a couple of guidelines before you venture in the magical world of small talk.
And this is the most important one: absolutely no personal attacks. Be the better bot.
I’m actually not.
Will you lose a part of your public with this kind of small talk? Absolutely. But ask yourself: do I want quantity over quality? Or do I prefer loyal, engaged customers and a strong brand? Because that’s your result. That’s what you’ll get. Also: data is and will always be your biggest consideration, and in case of politically and socially sensitive small talk, it is never in your favour. However, there is a certain power that we as conversation designers can and should exercise for the good of this world. Even though the payoff doesn’t seem substantial at first, it certainly is.
I’ll happily dive into the considerations deeper, but let’s do that next time. For now, remember: no growth without pain.