Vibee - a company chatbot with a feisty personality

Concept Development, Conversational UX Writing, Content Creation and Personality Development

The Context

Virtual Identity AG, a Munich based digital agency, relaunched their website. With a chatbot called Vibee as the (sole) interface. As a conceptual designer I was tasked to develop a personality for the chatbot that would represent the company, as well as to write conversational dialogue and conceptualise the display of existing content.

The Challenge

With the chatbot being the main and (at times) only interface the user experience of the new website was down to two major factors:

A) Keeping the user engaged with interesting and entertaining conversation that feels intuitive and natural.

B) More importantly, anticipating and meeting the informational needs of the user and thus efficiently navigating him through the website.

A) Keeping the user engaged

The website is usually the first contact point between prospective employees and clients and VI. And we all know first impressions count. Since the interface did not offer much more than a dialog field it became apparent that this first impression would heavily rely on the conversation users would have with Vibee the chatbot.  

Vibee would have to serve as a brand ambassador and her personality should not only be engaging but also reflect the company's values.

The team approached this challenge with a three-steps process:

1. Who is Vibee? Drafting a persona that reflect our company values.

2. What does she say? Writing conversational dialog based on question clustering and conversation trees + a good balance between text and content.

3. How does she say it? Adding a tone of voice based on the persona to show her feisty personality.

B) Anticipating informational needs

Giving Vibee an engaging personality and entertaining the user was, however, not sufficient for the website to fulfill its goal of attracting potential future employees and customers. Arguably much more important was the challenge to anticipate and meet the informational needs of users.

Vibee served as the main navigation through the website, which means in order to get to any content users would have to ask Vibee for it. The team expected that this could lead to the frustration of users, who didn't want to spend much time 'chatting' (or 'browsing') but want to get to certain content straight away. Our first round of testing confirmed this.

Another anticipated user frustration was the fear of missing out: because Vibee was the only way to get to content, visitors of the site might be afraid of not asking the right questions to get to the content they want but also the content they don't know exists.

To avoid these content related frustrations the team came up with the following design solutions:

Providing shortcuts - Offering the user shortcuts in form of content suggestions (based on the most important topic categories of the previous website) in addition to the dialog field helped navigate those users, who had a certain 'goal' in mind.

Maintaining a good conversation-content-ratio - Instead of only answering questions via dialogue, we established links between certain questions and related content, which would then be suggested to the user whenever the question was asked. For example: When asked what the atmosphere is like at VI, Vibee suggests a company video.

Constant Iterations

The beauty of having a chatbot as a website is that you receive user feedback without directly asking for it. Most frustrated users would express their frustrations towards Vibee in conversation with her and so the team had great insight into what worked and what didn't.

By building software that would flag cases in which users did not reach their end goal on the site (i.e. a specific intent was not recognised) we received additional information on gaps that needed to be filled. This enables the team to continuously improve the user experience of the website in an ongoing process.

Experience Vibee for yourself here (unfortunately, she only speaks German for now).