News article

Striking the right tone with your chatbot

If sci-fi movies of times gone by were to be believed, the year 2020 should have been the age of self-driving cars, hovercrafts and robot servants. Let’s just say this year has been the epitome of things not turning out as expected!

But while we’re not in the age of total AI codependence just yet, there’s no doubt that technology (and automation in particular) plays a huge role in assisting our everyday lives, from self-service checkouts to voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa.

Something that’s become an increasingly popular feature of modern websites is the chatbot functionality; a virtual assistant of sorts that’s programmed to respond to a user’s query. While these bots vary in sophistication, the idea essentially boils down to having a list of written responses to a selection of ‘if-then’ statements.

Why have a chatbot?

There are a number of pros to having a chatbot on your website. Perhaps the most obvious is that they’re there for your clients around the clock. This can be particularly helpful if you’re short-staffed or often in meetings, as it allows you to engage with prospective and existing clients without having to sacrifice other priorities.

People also tend to like helping themselves, and a chatbot plays into that. They don’t need to pick up the phone or send an email to get what they need, which can increase customer satisfaction.

But one of the biggest challenges they pose, one that sets the good chatbots apart from the bad ones, is tone. After all, what good is a chatbot if it’s got nothing good to say?

With that in mind, here are some writing tips designed to help make your chatbot’s chit chat a success.

Get the formality right

The first thing you’ll need to determine is how formal (or casual) you want to be. It’s important to Inject your own tone of voice into your bot. Get this wrong and your bot is likely to just have a jarring effect – instead, you want it to feel like an extension of yourself or your business, an almost familiar presence.

Think about the style and tone of the copy on your website, and the way you speak to your clients in person, then use this to guide your chatbot’s responses.

Get to the point

Your clients aren’t going to engage with your chatbot just for the sake of it (unless lockdown has encouraged a new level of boredom, that is). Presumably, they’re going to engage with intent – they have a problem or a query that they want a response to.

For this reason, brevity is key. Don’t construct lines and lines of flowery waffle. Just get straight to the point in addressing what’s been asked, or risk losing the person on the other end.

Don’t try to be a comedian

There’s a time and place for cracking jokes, and doing so through a chatbot isn’t it. Yes, it might work for other brands with different offerings and target audiences, but for financial services websites, it’s more appropriate to keep it professional. That doesn’t mean your bot has to come across overly corporate and boring – and if you’ve injected your own personal tone of voice into it, it won’t. It just means you’ll avoid potentially insulting your valued clients.

Oh, and it should go without saying, but just in case – steer clear of the emojis.

Don’t assume you’re the first point of contact

People nowadays will usually try and find an answer to something themselves before they ask for help. Don’t assume that your chatbot is the first point of contact for your website users – chances are they’ve already tried the most obvious piece of advice (for instance, checking your FAQs page), and directing them back there could just frustrate them.

Have some empathy

When thinking about how to write dialogue for your chatbot, the single best thing to do is to put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Imagine the issues they might have and what they’ll want to hear.

When things aren’t going to plan, a simple sorry or ‘we understand’ can go a long way to placating matters. Similarly, if they want to speak to a real person, let them know that you’re on it. But be sure to try and manage their expectations – something along the lines of “our advisers are busy right now but will be free in the next ten minutes” will go down much better than vague promises.

Make your chatbot a success

The real success of a chatbot lies in its ability to hold an effective, helpful conversation that goes at least part of the way to solving your customer’s problem. By getting the tone right, you can ensure your chatbot is a value-adding component of your overall marketing strategy.

Interested in building a chatbot for your website, or need some help nailing your business’s tone of voice? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at or call 0115 8965 300.

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