5 minute read · Published April 14, 2024

Why are AI chatbots designed to sound like people?

Latest Update May 22, 2024

Over the past decade, chatbots have become nearly ubiquitous. While they started mostly as customer support tools, they've evolved to be present in every area of our lives.

You'll find chatbots across the internet and your phone, from your bank to your social media platform to your health care provider.

But that's not to say that chatbots have remained the same during this proliferation.

Quite the opposite, in fact!

As the technology that drives their answers and behavior has improved, their ability to empathize, relate to the customer in need, and answer in natural language has improved.

This growth has only been supercharged by the development of large language models, which power tools like ChatGPT and Claude 3.

In the past two years, we've seen these tools go from niche tech wonders to parts of our daily lives.

Users value these AI chatbots' massive knowledge and data, but they also have come to appreciate their ability to answer quickly, and simply in a language they understand.

Instead of digging through an acronym and jargon-filled blog post from a Google search, you can get clear and direct answers.

One of the most recent and important developments that has made that possible has been the ability of newer chatbots to sound like people.

Let's dig into this a bit more.

Why does it matter if a chatbot can sound human?

The more human a chatbot sounds, the better its ability to communicate answers and solve user problems more effectively. What do I mean by this?

If you think about it, there's this inherent friction or disconnect when a user asks you a question and they're natural, and a bot answers using a very awkward, arcane, or hyper-professional tone.

But when it responds in a human's natural language, or even better, when it mimics the user's language, the answer is clearer, and the user is more satisfied.

This is also critical because as chatbots become ubiquitous, less tech-savvy people will interact with them, and we'll need to understand their responses. Much like customer service agents who might tweak their tone or response, speed up, or slow down, depending on the user they're talking to, a chatbot can now learn to tweak its style depending on the implied characteristics of its user.

Taking on a role

We all have a shared fear of AI robots taking over the world from all the sci-fi movies we watched growing up. But even if we know that's overstated, at least for now 😅, we often find robotic or systematized responses unappealing.

There's nothing worse than trying to get customer support and finding yourself in an endless loop from a bot that doesn't know what it's doing.

To improve user experience, the latest AI chatbots have been trained and are getting better and better at sounding like humans.

If you ask ChatGPT to talk like a 5th grader, it will.

If you ask it to role-play as a professor, it will also.

That's because the large language models behind these tools have ingested innumerable amounts of written texts and data and have learned the speech patterns of humans.

Now, your chatbot will be capable of using human tones and response characteristics and even, at times, taking on different emotions, perspectives, and attitudes if you instruct it that way. This provides greater comfort and relatability and empowers the user to do more with the chatbot.

Humans are not one size fits all, so your chatbot should not be either

Humans are not a monolith, so sounding “human” is not a one-size-fits-all criterion.

We’ve taken this reality to heart when creating our AI Copilot.

One thing we're excited about here at CommandBar is Copilot's power to increase user satisfaction and enhance user experience.

Folks can use Copilot to get quick answers to all of their questions instead of spending hours digging through your help documentation or bugging your customer support.

There's an inherent sexiness and smoothness that is quite appealing to product teams, founders, and users, but a lot of core value and utility is also being delivered.

Even if you ignore all the benefits of ticket deflection and reduced customer service spending for your company, it's ultimately better for your users if they can get a routed answer in seconds, not minutes.

Personas

When we looked at the B2B SaaS landscape in particular, we saw that the largest demographic is fairly savvy users who are technologically advanced and expect a high level of performance from your chatbot.

That's why our Copilot is robust enough to ingest all of your data and provide quick answers, and it has more options for increased personalization.

For example, you can now structure a specific tone or persona for Copilot that fits your branding scheme.

We know that one size fits all doesn't work in this space.

A company that works with enterprise finance clients will likely need a different tone for independent creators.

Now, that’s possible!

Pump the brakes - potential risks with human-sounding AI

There are obvious boundaries to this effort to create human-like AI. You should be very careful about how your chatbot uses the data it collects to inform its decision-making and tone. You should never violate any privacy laws in your jurisdiction. You must also have complete clarity on whether they're speaking with a live agent or an AI-powered agent or messaging with one.

A popular example of this issue has been robo-calling AIs that mimic politicians' voices. You can imagine how, as technology gets better and better, anyone will be able to clone anyone’s voice. That’s a scary future in which it’s harder to discern what is real from what is AI fabricated.

To stay on the right side of this trend, your AI models should always be ethically powered, clearly labeled, and focused on maximizing value for the user, not for you. That’s the approach we’ve taken here at CommandBar.

Looking ahead

Even as we push to make Copilot the most nuanced and strongest AI chat agent in the market, we know that we, and other great B2B SaaS companies, need to maintain a human-centered design experience that keeps the users' interest at heart.

While we're proud of the ability of Copilot to answer users' questions quickly, deflect tickets, and save both you and your users time and money, we're also aware that it doesn't mean the end of support agents or of help documentation for us.

It's all part of a coherent strategy to provide amazing options for your users so that self-service is the norm, but not the only thing available.

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