In collaboration with conversation design agency Labworks, and Sage, I helped to develop the tone of voice and chatbot scripts for a new expense bot for small business owners. This bot would help small business owners keep track of daily finances while on the go.
We began development of this bot before it became a marketing must-have, so we were making our own rules when it came to tone and functionality. We needed to create an interface which helped reduce and simplify financial admin efficiently, while remaining enjoyable to interact with. We also be mindful of cultural boundaries and linguistic issues, as Sage wanted to take this across Europe.
After conducting workshops with Sage employees and small business account holders, we developed an initial interface which handled basic interactions and functionality as indicated to us by the SME interviews. We then played around with telling a story that was a parallel to the users’ story, and settled on developing a backstory for a plucky bot called Pegg, setting up its own admin business. It’s taking on the world, one account at a time. The more a user utilises Pegg’s functionality and account integration, the more backstory a user unlocks.
Tone of Voice
Pegg’s tone of voice is plucky, nerdy and friendly. Using natural language parsing in combination with our scripts, we could piece together how early users communicated with Pegg, and begin to match the tone of voice and phrasing accordingly. Combing through early versions of the bot and user responses, we put together a comprehensive list of responses to random user questions, to make them giggle. There are a lot of Star Trek jokes. We’ve used nerdy tropes and gifs to further communicate in a way that feels natural on the internet, and is appropriate to AI communication, i.e. Pegg has no gender, refers to itself as a bot, and is fluent in meme and cat gifs. We’ve had great feedback from users and the team continues to develop the tone.
From a speculative project, we’ve turned Pegg into a Facebook and Skype chat interface used by small business owners across Europe. This has been a big hit for Sage, making a big company a more attractive proposition for tech-savvy entrepreneurs and creative freelancers alike.