This guide will highlight the process of creating conversational video content for chatbots by the example of one of our client projects, Izvor Insurance. If you’re interested in improving user satisfaction and boosting the personality of your Chatbot, you’ll quickly learn the basics on how to achieve that if you read further. While there are several approaches to this process, this one represents our internal process at Martian & Machine. So let’s start!
When it comes to Chatbots, for starters, we might associate them with a lot of development taking place at one of those hip offices where avocado toast sits somewhere in between a mild warm coffee latte and the juicer machine. Truth be told, while most agencies that pioneered in chatbot development fit into the shoes of such a description and like to take pride to be in the boat of a rapidly growing business, most of them tend to forget quickly what this technology is actually about in the first place — people.
Let’s reflect and face the current situation. Most tech agencies or startups are pretty inexperienced when it comes to Chatbot user engagement on any level. Yes — they might have mastered the tech behind it on some level, and know the general outlines of the building, deploying, and maintaining a Chatbot, but lack the skill to approach the user from another angle, to confront the user directly and make him enjoy the experience rather than just glide through it. We’re talking about smart content mapping here. I’ve written an article on that matter. And we’re also talking about the personalized emotional experience — the visual aspect of content production which I’m going to elaborate on further. Read on…
Creating content for any platform has its own little secrets of the trade, and while there might be no actual handbook on how to create (or edit) media content for chatbots at the moment, the platform is picking up and tailoring its own best practices, one at a time.
Looking in hindsight, the breakthrough happened when Chatbots started to use generic media content that spiced up emotional moments during conversations. You’ve probably seen a dozen of those funny GIFs, embedded into the chat each time you’ve done something meaningful. Generally speaking, any content that spiced up the experience from usual chatttt-ish to fun and engaging. So, where’s the problem one asks? Not being able to create such content and relying on whats out there I’d say. Free content might do the trick in some instances, but when it comes to shipping a product on a higher level, you have to get your hands dirty and produce your own content. Using an approach like this one will guarantee that you deliver a product that resonates well with the brand guidelines and approaches the audience in a manner that makes them feel involved, creating a tight relationship between them and the brand, early on.
So how do you approach video content production for Chatbots? To learn that you need to start digging into methods used by creative agencies and video production companies. At Martian & Machine, we’ve gained enough experience to break it down into a few simple but important steps. Prior to execution, let's put a bit of thought into it. Ready?
Every project has some challenges waiting to be resolved, right? In the elaborated case, we were doing an insurance Chatbot for ‘Izvor Insurance.’ Envisioned as a small MVP, its mission was to break the ice between sales agents and users and gain more traction through direct messaging channels (in their case Facebook Messenger and web chat integration). The challenge was mainly built around the short conversational flow where users would get to the bottom of it in a short time, feeling the lack of empathy, the blankness that a typical chat interface provides in relation to a real sales agent. So, we decided to compose a story that would engage users to spend their time with the Chatbot in a more open and meaningful way. Ask yourself — what’s your special story?
We thought of a way to personalize the experience. Since insurance sales agents are the central touch point with customers, we decided to embed real agents into the Chatbot. Our idea was simple — we used an emphatical agent as a frontman who would greet users and walk them through the storyline. We also decided to give users the option to choose some of the other agents at the end of the conversation — your personal agent who will be responsible for creating a personalized insurance policy offer — one that suits your specific needs. Furthermore — this agent would remind you to renew your policy later on and be your first touch point for additional inquiries.
In order to create a tight relationship with clients early on, real agents were digitalized and delivered through the Izvor Insurance Chatbot. Later on, the chosen agent is responsible for direct conversation with the client.
Getting from planning to execution requires a bit of preparation. Apart from the development roadmap, you’ll need a solid script for the photo shooting crew that most probably is not part of your team. To get the most out of it and use everyone’s time wisely, we always prepare a short script outline that needs to be executed and define few simple output parameters. What we find important might not apply for your project, so feel free to explore what makes the most sense. Listed are a few general goals:
what, where, and when (planning)
provide examples of similar work (visualizing the idea is key)
use drafts/wireframes to illustrate ideas
incorporate clients' CI into your work
define strict outcomes (emotions you need)
define tech specs (output)
Take your time and go through every point with your crew till you don’t feel confident that both sides are in-line with the desired outcome. It’s much easier to communicate at this point than later on.
In order to create satisfying results, you’ll need to pay close attention to the set. Usually, you have two options — hire a professional studio or improvise.
All you need is a simple set like this one and you’re ready to go.
In our case — we wanted to shoot simple personalized clips with our agent. As we already have a production ready studio set up, we usually just book the production team. This is a really simple set; you can do it almost anywhere given that you have an empty room. Here’s what you need:
camera crew (lead + assistant)
set artists (makeup/fashion etc. — optional)
studio lighting (multi-point at least)
a colored background (you can improvise there)
camera gear (no high-end necessary)
In our case, we’ve used multi spot lighting (4x5500K bulbs) and a mid range cam (Canon 5D Mark iii). Depending on your setup, you’ll figure out what works best. Since the videos will be displayed in a small video bubble, you really can compromise on expensive gear. Just keep in mind to get the basics right — set up proper lighting, get the frame right and shoot till you get the desired response from the actor.
Use the opportunity to reflect on results multiple times during the set. Feedback is crucial and details are important. Communicate often in order to fine-tune results and archive the desired outcome.
Apart from executing the set right technically, the result has to blend into the brand guidelines seamlessly and communicate in the desired manner. For instance, with Izvor Insurance, we decided to use a blue background color that was in-line with their CI and used a tone that they usually use within external communication.
This is the simplest part — all videos need to be edited and split into small, compressed GIFs. It’s really up to you how you want to structure them — the only important aspect is to optimise the video file size properly. Usually, we trim really short sequences that look good in loops. This keeps the file size small and delivers the message in a snap. Having all your videos edited and production ready, the only thing left is to implement them into your project and test them out. Simple, right?
Getting the perfect result involves a bit of experimenting on each front till you don’t feel confident at it. In the end, the only relevant benchmark of whether you did a good job is measured in user satisfaction. While we give our best to test the product in-house, real users often provide a much better insight into their patterns of behavior. Interestingly, all Chatbots that used such kind of user engagement tactics, proved to fulfill their goal, streamlining the user to the desired action. In our case, Izvor insurance received positive user feedback and agents reported a high user satisfaction rate after contacting them directly to close the deal. Thanks to the fact that users became familiar with their agent of choice early on, the chances to gain trustworthiness towards the service or company got higher. Agents got greeted in a casual, warm tone at call initiation, giving them the opportunity to assess the topic in a kind manner, delivering the message to the customer a lot easier and more efficiently.
Izvor Chatbot is performing really well, involving the customer directly in the process.
While the rule books of such services are being rewritten day by day as new possibilities emerge, the fact that people still consume emotions through every service or product is still the most viable component of making such services pleasant and easy to use. Combined with a proven method of user engagement, there is little to no reason not to deliver such an experience to your users.
Hopefully, this article encouraged you even a little bit to try to plan out your next chatbot with a bit of ‘warmth’ from the inside. As for us, we’re already sold on it and believe strongly that this is what the future of chatbots is about. User-centric technology.
You can also find this article in Chatbots Magazine.
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