Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re talking to Greg Bennett, Senior User Researcher at Salesforce, to find out how to build our first bot.

Join us as we talk about how to give your bot a personality, the key components of conversation you need to think about, and mastering voice and tone.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Greg Bennett.

The best rebound story you’ve ever heard.

Greg’s path to building bots began in an unlikely way— a breakup. In grad school, he focused on conversational linguistics in online spaces because he got dumped over online text. “Leading up to the breakup, I noticed that he was getting colder and colder, and I wondered how someone could seem cold to me without hearing his voice or seeing his face,” Greg says. His research became focused on how voice and tone get created in text-based conversations, which was a super helpful subject area for bots.

When Greg started at Salesforce, he was working on Sales Cloud, “but when I heard there was an opportunity to work on our Einstein bot, I jumped at it. I’m super passionate about how you can create a voice and tone and personality and meet user expectations for what it means to have a conversation, even if one of the participants is a machine,” he says. It’s not about making bots that can pretend to be human, or replace humans, or be creepy, but instead trying to create bots that can fulfill basic human expectations for what a conversation is.

Giving your bot a personality.

After you’ve decided to use a bot, “the first thing out of the gate is deciding what kind of use cases you’re designing the bot for,” Greg says. There are some issues that are so simple that the customer can probably find the answer and self-service with a simple search term, think something like “forgotten password” or “change contact info.” A step above this is your sweet spot, “the use cases that are a little too complex for search but probably not necessarily the best use of your agents’ time,” he says.

An example Greg gives us is from when he was flying. He didn’t receive any information on the gluten-free meal he reserved, so he called into the airline’s phone bot to try and get his issue resolved. It was pretty useless at understanding what he needed and ended up giving him information about reservations in general, but it was a relatively easy thing for a service agent to handle. He does note, however, that it’s probably too rare of a service issue to dedicate a bot to solving.

Beyond use cases, the other thing you should think about is the “basic components of conversation,” Greg says. A hello and goodbye section, for instance. Pulling the user’s information from your Salesforce instance to great them by name makes a bigger difference than you might think, in terms of personalization. On the other end of the conversation, “thank you” sometimes means “goodbye” but not always, so make sure your bot has a way of ending a conversation that also allows the user to get more help if needed.

The ins and outs of conversation design.

A key component of any bot is conversation design. Greg explains, “What I mean by ‘conversation design’ is: does the bot adhere to basic rules of conversational behavior?” It’s important that it self-identifies as a bot, for example. But also, you need to be thinking about the personality of the bot, the voice and tone of what it’s like to interact with.

“I think it comes down to thinking through the guidelines of what your voice and tone are,” Greg says. Anyone who is creating a bot needs guidelines for what voice they should write it in, and it’s important to keep that consistent as development passes from hand to hand. Greg’s team has a voice and tone worksheet to help, which includes guidelines for emojis. “This is the nerd/linguist side of me, but emojis actually have meaning— you can replace whole words in conversation with an emoji,” he says.

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