The New Species among Us
Bot: Hello, Stacy, I am Ava, your museum assistant. I can provide museum information and book tickets, among other things. How can I help you today?
User: I need to book tickets.
Bot: Okay, I can help you with that. How would you like to book your tickets: online or at the museum?
Bot: Got it. Online tickets for how many people?
User: Two adults, two kids.
Bot: Okay. Your total for two adults and two kids tickets to the museum would be $55.60. Do you want me to proceed?
Bot: You got it! I have booked your museum tickets for two adults and two kids. Your tickets will be in your inbox shortly. Is there anything else I can help you with?
User: Can you give me some info about kid-friendly exhibits?
Bot: Absolutely. We have many kids friendly exhibits. The top ones are bird world, discovery center, and nanotechnology. Do you want more information on any of these?
User: Can you tell me more about nanotechnology?
Bot: Of course. In our nanotechnology exhibit, kids can learn how scientists manipulate matter on a very tiny scale to build materials and devices used in computing, engineering, medicine, and other fields. Interactive stations explore how material properties change at the nanoscale. Anything else I can do for you?
This interaction between a bot (aka digital assistant) and a human is not new anymore: we have seen it in movies and TV series, from Hal 2001: A Space Odyssey to Jarvis in Iron Man. We have also seen it in Janet from Netflix series The Good Place to Samantha in the movie Her.
Many of us have even personally interacted with digital assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Cortana, to name a few.
Because digital assistants are so omnipresent, it makes sense that we would start to ask questions about them — namely, what their role is in society and how we can better adapt them to our uses. How can we make digital assistants more engaging so that, in turn, they fit into our lives more comfortably?
Digital Assistant Personality
One crucial aspect of making connections with voice assistants is personality. We are continually gauging other people's personalities, deciding that we dislike or like people based on how they walk, how they walk, and how they carry themselves. The same is true for digital assistants: everything a digital says and does is a part of its personality.
Consider two hypothetical digital assistants.
The first one speaks in a monotone, only answering questions literally — and not for comedic effect, either.
User: Hey, what's up?
Assistant: Hello. What can I do for you?
User: I want to watch a movie.
Assistant: Please repeat.
User: I want — to — watch — a movie.
Assistant: I see. Please select a streaming platform.
A Little More Fun
The second one speaks in more varied tones, filling its statements with emotions and offering opinions in its responses.
User: Hey bud!
Assistant: Hey, how are you? Long time no see.
User: Haha, right! I want to watch a movie.
Assistant: For sure, I can help. You said you liked that new thriller. How about this one. Check out your TV.
User: Perfect! How do you always know?
Assistant: It's either magic or the code. One of the two.
Which of these digital assistants would come across as more intriguing to you? Intuitively, you suspect that it would be the first. This is the power of personality.
When we interact with a voice assistant, we don't care what technology went into it and its limitation, but how the voice assistant made us feel. And that is why designing a Digital Assistant personality is the first step towards making the experience your users would love.
We will dive deeper into this importance of having a Digital Assistant Personality in part 2 of this blog series.