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Would You Interact with a Chatbot that's Unfriendly? 67% Users Say No! Urban English speakers are more likely to re-engage with 'friendly' assistants than purely 'transactional' ones

By Aastha Singal

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To stay ahead of the curve, keeping customers engaged is the key to every brand. Besides making efforts for expanding the base through social media and other marketing activities, ensuring that no user is unhappy with the services through regular interactions and impromptu query resolution via customer care has been the strategy for organizations until a few years ago.

With artificial intelligence at the helm of transition, businesses are changing the course of interacting with their customers. Major websites have started using virtual assistants for communicating with the customers. Web developers keep innovating means for providing a conversational experience that is indistinguishable from that of a human being via chatbots.

By 2020, the average person was predicted to have more daily interactions with an AI-powered chatbot or virtual assistant than with their own spouse. While the prediction seems a little far-fetched, we are already on the way. AI companies are leveraging the conversational experience to both gain and retain users, especially in the food-ordering and education category.

Understanding Chatbots/Virtual Assistants

A chatbot is a piece of software that conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner, although as of 2019, they are far short of being able to pass the Turing test.

Remember the last time you ordered food online? That shouldn't be extremely difficult. If you had a complaint about the food or delivery, you'd go to the help section present in most websites to detail the query right? To which an instant response generally pops up. That response would either be software-like or personalized. What would you prefer?

In a study was conducted by Brinda Mehra -- a Psychology student for investigating the effects of inserting personality in chatbots and virtual assistants and its influence on customer experiences, it was found that 67 per cent users prefer virtual assistants with a "friendly' personality.

Types of Chatbots

Transactional Personality: A transactional personality would be defined as one that is serious, highly principled and restrained. According to the IBM chart, this chatbot would score high on Conscientiousness and low on Agreeableness, while the interaction with this personality would be highly goal-oriented and have little to no social niceties involved, with sharp, to-the-point text.

Prosocial Personality: A prosocial personality, by definition, is one that is extremely helpful. It is also cooperative, polite and considerate, scoring high on both Conscientiousness and Agreeableness in the IBM Chart. Interactions with this personality would contain several social niceties, repeated assurances of its desire to help and some markers of engagement like exclamation marks and emoticons.

Friendly Personality: Much like its name suggests interactions with this bot are meant to be reminiscent of an interaction with a friend. Vibrant, enthusiastic and social, this personality will score high on the dimensions of Extraversion and Agreeableness, utilizing several markers of engagement like images, gifs, emoticons, letter reduplication and slang in order to make the interaction more casual in nature.

Take a look at the following infographic based on report by Haptik as conducted by Brinda Mehra to understand which bots customers prefer the most:

Aastha Singal

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Features Writer

A business journalist looking to find happiness in the world of startups, investments, MSMEs and more. Officially started her career as a news reporter for News World India, Aastha had short stints with NDTV and NewsX. A true optimist seeking to make a difference, she is a comic junkie who'd rather watch a typical Bollywood masala than a Hollywood blockbuster. 

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