Personality is the new UX
With the rise of voice-driven interfaces like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, language has been given more importance.
Engineers aren’t writers. Yet, these new products are run exclusively through conversations and language. That’s where writers come in, to shape an experience that actually makes sense.
“I believe art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century like science and technology did in the last century.” — John Maeda.
Communication has evolved from SMS notifications and segmented social media advertisements, to scalable solutions like chatbots. Digitally native customers are ‘always on’ and expect more from their brand interactions.
Facebook Messenger now boasts 1.2 billion users – and messaging platforms are dominating the growth of social media networks. There are now 100,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger alone, and the growth of the industry is dwarfing that of the app ecosystem.
Why use chatbots?
Bots can be used for campaigns, e-commerce, product launches, or customer service. Their potential is limitless.
However, the real reason brands are so interested in bots is the conversational experience. Imagine thousands of users having a unique, personalised conversation with a brand – all at the same time. A bot can also be a direct representation of a brand’s personality. Users can talk to a brand and get a ‘branded experience’ talking right back to them.
Why does your bot need a personality?
Brands already make highly personalised experiences for their users. The cult newsletter theSkimm call their tone of voice the “best friend element”, which makes their product digestible and relevant to a female millennial audience. Founders Danielle Weisberg & Carly Zakin describe how they created their unique tone of voice when speaking on GirlBoss Radio. They went to the lengths of having an intern write down all the common phrases they used when speaking, and translated this into their product.
Making products more life like is where bots come in. We can personalise interactions and make a user experience feel more intimate by designing bots with personality. The easiest way to do this is by mimicking the human behaviour of a brand’s target audience. What are their personality traits? How does your target audience speak, and act? Replicate this in a conversation.
How far do you go?
The challenge is using personality — but also making sense.
Here are our favourite ways to use bots:
Content Marketing. Use a strong brand voice in conversation and deliver stories, exclusive content, games, and campaigns through messaging platforms like Facebook, or Kik.
Therapy. Well designed chatbots with engaging personalities can be used as a scalable personal therapist. With rising mental health statistics worldwide, this offers a unique solution.
Personalised service. Chatbots can be designed with tone of voice and language choice to exactly replicate the personality of a brand, or a representative of that brand. Think of bots as personalised 1-on-1 service at scale.
You can read more about using bots in our post about ‘Making emerging tech useful’.
Improve customer experience with technology – cutting queues with ROLLER
Let’s face it – nobody likes lining up. The anticipation to enter an event you’ve been looking forward to is like watching grass grow. So how can you improve customer experience and cut queues down using technology? By putting the best minds, software and hardware together.
Here’s the great news! Together with ROLLER, we’ve solved it. Melbourne’s “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” by Heston Blumenthal premiered last Wednesday night, and the app we built for ROLLER made one of its debut appearances. Check out the lines:
Let me be clear; this is not because they sold fewer tickets. ROLLER moved around 750 patrons through the doors within less than an hour. If that doesn’t speak volumes about how technology can improve customer experience, then we don’t know what does. Seeing this visible proof that it’s possible to improve customer experience with technology was super cool to us.
We checked in more people through each of our lines individually than they did through theirs, and never had a line longer than 5m
Past us working to improve customer experience, I believe we’ve also achieved the holy grail of User Experience – Delight. Just imagine – strolling past all those side-lane suckers, walking straight up to the smiling gate attendant getting your ticket scanned swiftly, and receiving a;
“Welcome to World’s 50 best restaurants! *BEEP* thank you Mr. Morse, we hope you enjoy your evening!”
I most certainly will, thanks!
Now let’s quickly project us into the shoes of a ‘side-lane sucker’. Robert bought his ticket through the PR agency who’s job it was to promoting the event.
“Sweet, they are the official promoters,” you think, “Surely that will get me priority entry!“
After waiting in 25 meters of lines for 20 minutes, you arrive at the entrance, only to be met with a dull, bored voice
“Uh, Robert Morse” you stammer. The PR representative curtly flips through pages and pages of spreadsheets, until they get to ‘M’, scan the list for your name, and then shouts “NEXT!“.
Holy cow, that would suck.
So how did we improve customer experience?
ROLLER are a highly disruptive bunch of people, giving industry giants like Ticketek and Ticket Master a run for their money. They specialise in supplying an all-in-one software solution for the entertainment industry. From ticketing to CRM, customer marketing to point-of-sale – they do it all. Think Apple ecosystem for entertainment. They’re way ahead of the curve, so we were stoked when they approached us to work with them on their next-gen products.
The kick-off project was to develop the check-in app in question. ROLLER had been stockpiling rugged devices that have 2D barcode scanners built into them. Check these beasts out:
They look pretty nasty, but they are solid AF, have batteries that last days on end, and most importantly feel great in your hand.
Squeezing one of those orange buttons on the side of the device will fire off the barcode scanner. Given the right app, that’s the only action required to verify a purchased ticket. Flipping through spreadsheets are a thing of the past.
Design sprinting and quick prototyping
We firmly believe in partnering closely with our clients, becoming their innovation team instead of hired goons who create stuff siloed away from the rest of the company. Our favourite way to kick off a new product relationship is with a ‘hack sprint’. A hack sprint is two weeks where we work together to see what we can produce when we put our collective minds together.
The check-in app was a perfect candidate for this. We worked on-site with ROLLER, working together with their development team to quickly integrate the hardware with their software.
Being the forward-thinking company they are, their entire platform feeds off an internal API. Due to this smart move, we were able to quickly tap into the API to deliver a slimmed-down mobile experience aimed at giving vendors an efficient, easy way to perform check-ins.
Our technology of choice for these quick sprints is ionic. It allows us to very quickly hammer out a prototype you can hold in your hand and use. Past that, we believe that ionic2+ is a tech stack that is ready for production grade apps – but that’s another whole blog post in itself.
Battle-testing the app
After the initial hack-sprint, ROLLER used the app at an event they supply hardware and tech for, Kidtopia Festival. It was a huge event, with over 40,000 tickets to being processed through the app – for which we had never tested. If I’m honest, I was shitting my pants that morning.
To our horror, the morning of the event (a Saturday), we get a call from ROLLER’s Legend in chief Will Nicholson, saying that the devices were freezing when trying to sync the 40k bookings purchased for the event. That was at 8 am, and doors opened at 9 am. F@%K!
Scrambling to increase the performance of the app, we found a nifty hack that would allow us to bulk-insert records. We managed to reduce sync time from 10+ minutes to around 30 seconds. At approximately 8:57 am, Will & Co feverishly updated the app, synced, and were ready to go. Despite a few more hiccups throughout the day, the app performed well under the enormous amount of data and stress. Sunday went off without a hitch.
Brute testing the app
We probably should have done this before the first event, but hey – move fast and break things, right? After Kidtopia, we figured we need to hammer these devices as hard as we can to try and break them. So we built another internal app to speed-test our devices, aptly-named DOORHAMMER. DOORHAMMER loads up a bunch of QR codes which you can scan rapidly with a device.
Consequently, ROLLER uses this app to train their clients for high volume use of the devices. Not only did we improve customer experience for ROLLER’s clients’ customers, but also for their own.
We continue to work closely with ROLLER to bring new and awesome features to the app, for even speedier check-in and better customer delight.
You can read a full write-up from me with some more technical aspects on how we built it over at ROLLER’s blog.