Should brand support bots be fake humans? Or just speak to you as the brand? Alex Moore takes a trip to the uncanny valley.

Brand chatbots. We’ve all used them. We’ve all been frustrated by them. And, as they get smarter, we’ve all tried to break their computer-generated brains. But as the tech gets more sophisticated, and applied to more customer interactions, the role of chatbots is changing. No longer simply a clunky triage utility, they’re growing to become the true helpful voice — and in some cases, face — of the brand they represent.

Which poses a few questions. Have customer expectations of chatbots changed too? What do they want or need from the experience? And have we collectively moved on from the idea that chatbots need a human name and a quirky personality? Or do we still like the idea of getting support from a fake person called Barry who’s sorry to hear that, and likes cats and footy?

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Alex Moore is associate director of Principals brand voice studio, XXVI

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