5 steps to writing accurate virtual assistant scripts
Ana Chagas Soares July 23, 2021
Every day more and more present and ubiquitous in our daily lives, who would have thought that communication between humans and virtual assistant was “lost in translation” not so long ago. ?  In February 2017, Silicon Valley blog The Information reported that the technology "could fulfil only about 30 percent of requests without human agents."  And that wasn't the only problem. "The bots built by outside developers had issues: the technology to understand human requests wasn't developed enough. Usage was disappointing," they're told. At that time, every now and then one of those robots was the subject of jokes by internet users and even comedians.
But the game has turned around very quickly! ?
Now, virtual assistant can answer 80% of frequently asked questions. According to specialists, about 90% of customer interaction in banks will be automated by 2022. Compared to other industries, 85% of customer interaction will be handled without human agents by this year, 50% of businesses plan to spend more on chatbots than on mobile apps and 37% of people use a customer service bot to get a quick answer in an emergency. (Data collected by Smallbizzgenius on November, 2020). Do you want to get into this area or are you curious to know “behind the scenes'' how robots can better and better interact with humans? Then pay attention to these 5 steps to write foolproof bots ?

1. Relentlessly search ?

To do any kind of research, many people open the first page of Google, read over the first 3 or 4 articles and ok, get satisfied. Well, sorry to tell you this, but that’s a hudge mistake... No matter what the target audience or subject matter, it is very worthwhile to look for academic articles, books, and renowned international publications. Not to mention, the main thing in this process: interacting with the main players in the worldwide market.
Don't speak the language? No problem at all: Google Translator is there 4 u ?
There’s an article from Boardroom Insiders, a BI company, that point the areas you should cover: Biographical History, Personal Interests and Affinities, Overall Company Strategy, Current Focus (how your customer measures success) and Key Challenges (how you stand in the market in front of your competitors).

2. Benchmark

This second step is a dive into that initial research. For example, are you going to make a banking virtual assistant? Map out the best ones in the world. Well, I’m Brazilian, there are amazing institutions here, but was it enough to look only here in my country? Of course not! So, I talked to bots from the United States to Hong Kong.  There were 27 bots surveyed, among them the market leader: erica from Bank of America. It is only accessible to BofA account holders. I reached out to some friends who live in the United States and are account holders of the American bank, and set up an interview with them. Nowadays, with WhatsApp and Skype, there are no more barriers. ? Benchmark is a key action for tracking the overall progress of a product or service, as well as comparing the product with an earlier version, a competitor, an industry benchmark, or a target.

The page of the NN/g Nielsen Norman Group, a world reference in design, explains the whole process in 6 steps:

  1. Choose what to measure: focus on the key metrics that best reflect the quality of the user experience you’re interested in evaluating.
  2. Decide how to measure: will it be quantitative or qualitative research?
  3. Collect first measurement and establish baseline
  4. Redesign the product: collect additional measurement
  5. Interpret findings
  6. Calculate ROI (as an optional action)

3. Listening to ?

It is a complementary step to Benchmark and equally fundamental. Well, when doing any kind of user or customer research, you need to understand the other person's opinion with an "open heart". Listen without taking it personally, you know? Or as the Americans say, "no hard feelings".  In short, keep your therapy up to date, leave your ego aside to accept the harshest feedback and transform them into product improvements. In this case, bots scripts. A 2016 survey conducted by Goin.io, an Israeli data intelligence startup, stated that the average hiring professional typically talks 75% of the time during business meetings.  However, those who do the opposite - that is, who listen approximately 60% of the time during the meeting - usually close better deals, with more expressive results.  The explanation of the success of a good listener is obvious: the listener diagnoses pains and knows how to treat them properly ?

Do u wanna improve your listening skills? So, pay attention to 3 principles:

  1. Empathy (truly understanding the other person's point of view).
  2. Investigative questions.
  3. Validation of understanding (knowing if you really understood the other person's message by asking questions like "I understood such information, is it really what I meant?").

4. Planning ?

Have you researched virtual assistant, mapped out the entire history of the market you are going to operate in and also investigated your competitors? Have you listened so much to your customer that you can guess his thoughts and read his facial expressions? 
Excellent!!! ? Then, and only then, comes the time to start designing the flows.

For this moment, here are some tips used by the experts at everis Virtual Agents, the department responsible for virtual assistant :

  • Build personas that represent your target audience: collect all the data gathered in the research and outline all the profiles that will relate to the virtual assistant. Most of the time, it is more than one. For example, in a bank, there are the executive, the housewife, the student, and countless social classes... To each one of them, create a kind of character, with name, nationality, where they live, habits, and even photos. Why all this? Simple, because it is much easier to talk to a person, even if they only exist on paper, than to draw dialogues for the abstract.
  • Build another persona to represent your virtual assistant: the principle and the reason for this process is identical to the previous paragraph. But here, only one persona counts. After all, you don't want to make a bipolar bot, right? ?
  • Be clear about the usefulness of this bot: nowadays every bot needs to have a bit of Jerry Seinfield, that is, it needs to tell good jokes. It is what we call in the jargon chit-chat. But besides entertaining its consumer, the bot needs to make its purpose clear. If it is a bank bot, it needs to help the customer to find his balance, statement, etc... If it is a health bot, to prevent diseases, coronavirus, etc...

5. Design ?️

When we are "drooling" over chatbots, I imagine you will agree with me that the amazing thing is not exactly the chatbot itself, the technical part, but what we put into this technology. That is, the content, the ability to converse. Do you agree? In this logic, a renowned expert on bots, Mary Kathryn Johnson, from the Bot Academy, made a text with an amazing analogy: If you receive guests at home for a barbecue, you won't immediately show up at the door with a plate of meet and a beer, right? This caution, this politeness, also occurs in a conversation at the bot. No hustle!  A good script needs to have a cadence: first the bot welcomes the customer, chats a little, presents its services, and only then offers something (a product, a service, a loan, it depends on the bot branch). If all this happens right, with an excellent copywrite, microcopy, and especially CTA buttons, then yes, the happy ending happens, which would be the conversion.

As for the peculiarities, it is worth paying attention to the new way of writing and speaking on the Internet:

  • Genderless Texts: The New York City Commission on Human Rights has identified no less than 31 gender identities. You won't be the one to decide whether the person chatting with the bot will be male or female, right? Latin languages suffer more from sexism (there are many words in the feminine or masculine). In any speech, it is worth choosing genderless expressions.
  • Spoken language: Experts say that in less than 10 years virtual assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant will become as ubiquitous devices in our daily lives as a television and refrigerator are today in the homes of the world. With this, spoken language will be mandatory.
  • Emojis + gifs: The universe is becoming more informal, even in the more serious sectors, such as banking and even government. Emojis and gifs are the new “Esperanto” — everybody, from Brazil to Tokio can understand the same simbols— and this nice figures can immediately translate information, much better than a thousand words ?
  • Short texts: ‘cause nobody has time for anything anymore. Put as much information in as few words and short paragraphs, preferably, with no more than 4 lines.
¡Hope you enjoyed it!
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