Foreword

The evolving COVID-19 pandemic has thrust us all into a new, urgent reality, one that—perhaps permanently—is challenging assumptions about how we live and work. From a business perspective, the pandemic is rapidly exposing the vulnerabilities in our strategies, systems and processes, and accelerating our reliance on digital systems that scale and connect where people cannot.

In this context, digital assistants such as chatbots and voice agents have a valuable role to play. They can support business resilience and reduced operational expenses, freeing up service and support representatives to focus on higher urgency, more sophisticated customer interactions; deliver needed information and services; become a source of “voice-of-the-customer” insight; or provide a moment of humanity and helpfulness when customers need it most.

The report that follows lays out strategic and brand guidelines for designing and activating digital assistants. We hope you find it valuable as you navigate this challenging time.

Susan Etlinger & Darcy Muñoz
April 8, 2020

Executive Summary

Digital assistants — whether embodied in a voice agent, a chatbot, or a combination — change the way we think about brand, from a generally static and visual experience to one that is dynamic and conversational. They unlock new strategic possibilities for customer and ecosystem engagement, and, as a result, raise questions about how brands should sound and behave in dynamic, often unpredictable situations. Finally, they compel us to address questions of brand architecture, identity, behaviors, language choices, movement, and tone in an unprecedented way.

This report, based both on independent research and direct consulting experience with global brands, addresses the opportunities of digital assistants and the conversational technologies that make them possible. We focus on conversational brand strategy, the key elements of persona development, and how to build engaging and trustworthy conversational experiences. Finally, we include a checklist to help business leaders plan for the risks and opportunities of incorporating conversational technologies into a well-considered brand strategy.

This report includes the following:

  • How to build a conversational brand that supports business strategy
  • Key elements of a conversational brand identity
  • Fundamentals of a trustworthy conversational experience
  • A checklist & assessment to guide planning efforts and gauge progress

 

Is your organization well-positioned to deliver strategic, on-brand and trustworthy customer experiences using digital assistants?

Take our assessment to find out.

 

Susan Etlinger

Industry Analyst

Darcy Muñoz

Partner