AUSTIN, TX: Capital One, the financial-services group, believes chatbots can provide a powerful way to connect with consumers – and has ensured its entry into this category has an engaging personality to help facilitate that process.

Audra Koklys Plummer, Head/Artificial Intelligence Design, discussed the organisation's recently-launched offering – which goes by the name "Eno" – in this space during a session at the 2017 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference.

"We did a lot of work in creating the character. We started by developing a back story for the character," she said. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: Chatbot best practices: Tips from Capital One.)

This approach, Koklys Plummer continued, included identifying the "likes" and "dislikes" of its SMS assistant – as well as giving it a sense of humour.

"We developed character traits; and we looked at the way Eno viewed the world; and the way Eno viewed itself," she told the SXSW delegates.

"We created character flaws for Eno, because that's often a really important way to create empathy and understanding with an audience – and, in this case, with our customers."

Koklys Plummer joined Capital One in July 2016, and could draw on previous experience working for entertainment companies like DreamWorks, Pixar and Lucasfilm in order to construct an engaging chatbot.

And in making sure the financial brand focused on form as well as function, it also created "a visual representation for Eno so anyone working on the character could have a quick understanding of who this character is," she revealed.

Alongside providing "Eno" with a distinctive personality, the team working on this chatbot put considerable thought into its name – beyond the fact that it spelled the word "one" backwards.

"We purposely didn't want to convey an age, or a race, or a gender to Eno, because sometimes folks have an unconscious bias, and we didn't want to evoke that," Koklys Plummer said.

"We wanted to focus on creating a character that is gender-neutral, that it's totally transparent that it's a bot, but it has human-like qualities."

For more guidance on chatbot strategy, download this free-to-access Warc report featuring a behind-the-scenes perspective from Facebook Messenger's Head of Product: What Facebook's chatbots mean for brands.

Data sourced from Warc