How to Bring Your Chatbots to Life


Most people know when they’re talking to a chatbot now, but in some ways it’s actually better to underline that fact.

It lets the user off the hook with more complex social rules, which helps them get to the information they need more efficiently.

That said, there are quite a few conversational rules your chatbots need to follow.

1. Make your chatbot a living example of your brand

Your chatbot is a member of your customer service team. It’s a brand ambassador. But chatbots can be a bone of contention for consumers, so it’s a very tricky thing to get right.

Pretending to be human can be annoying, but too robotic and we feel fobbed off on a money-saving machine that’s not up to the job. When writing your chatbots, settle on the personality of your target audience; mirroring in conversation is a very useful social tool for getting someone on side.

“Hey you! What can I help you with today?”

Warning: never sacrifice function for brand. The whole point of using chatbots is to streamline customer service. No user wants a robot’s backstory – they want a question answered or a task completed.

Use your customer service brand training when writing your chatbot responses.

2. Expect the unexpected

Any customer service team knows that you’ll often get questions that are seemingly random. Your bot needs to be able to answer these without endlessly repeating ‘I’m sorry, I don’t recognise that.’

Suggested FAQs or pages based on the keywords in the question is the best bet.

“Sorry, I don’t have an answer for that one. You might find [article] helpful.”

3. Stick to human rules about conversation

Even though your users probably knows they’re talking to a chatbot, your bot reflects you as a business. Its script needs to be as accurate as any product copy and as adept in conversation as any customer service agent.

However, research by Ubisoft shows that 69% of consumers would use a chatbot to get an instant answer; only 15% would use it just for fun. Like, duh. We’re happy to trade in a human if it means time saved, as long as we don’t sacrifice ease of use.

Turn-taking, connecting statements – like ‘Thanks for that, now…’ – and follow-up questions will help smooth the chatbot interaction.

4. Manners

Please do this. Sorry, I didn’t understand that. Your chatbots need to obey social rules, especially for Your Money or Your Life (as per Google’s definition) products involving finances and health.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want a cheeky little robot taking the mick out of my overdrawn bank account. If I’m looking for an answer to a potentially urgent question, I want professionalism.

“Please select which service you need and I’ll be happy to help.”

5. Greetings and sign-offs

As I said earlier, it’s good practice to let your users know a chatbot isn’t a real person and too much ‘overacting’ can be annoying, anyway. However, there are places that we can humanise our chatbots.

Use your greetings and sign-offs to give brand flavour, leaving the rest of the conversation to more straight-forward problem-solving.

“Hi there – I’m a bot. Ask me anything and I’ll find you an answer in less time than a human takes to read your question.”

Chatbots are people too

Our chatbots are extensions of our customer service teams. They save money and streamline customer enquiries. They can do so much for us, if we just invest a little time in making sure they give a great impression.

Substance before style, manners – and a little sprinkling of brand tone.


Yell has a dedicated team available from 8am to 10pm Monday to Friday to chat with you online about any questions you have regarding your account or advertising with us. Just visit https://www.yell.com/contactus/ and click ‘Chat Now’!