It’s easier than ever for a brand to develop a chatbot that delivers “baseline functionality”, rather harder to create one that offers a pleasing user experience, a new study says, but AirAsia’s AVA is an exception.

The Bot-o-olgy study by Malaysian agency Entropia rated 30 chatbots on reliability, personality and experience and found that most brands tended to focus on the first two.

It attributed this in part to the fact that so many chatbots are now built on Facebook's Messenger platform, which provides a simple chatbot engine on which users with even zero knowledge can create a bot within a few hours.

What brands may save in costs, however, they lose in user experience. Those chatbots that excel in this area “tend to be from brands that went the extra mile to build their chatbots on reputable platforms outside of Facebook that offer more options for customisation,” the report found.

“These chatbots tend to learn and react much faster, as the needs of the brand are taken into account without compromise.”

AirAsia’s AVA (standing for AirAsia Virtual Allstar), for example, was built by the airline’s software and customer happiness teams using technology built specifically for AVA.

As well as being integrated into the mobile app and website, it’s also linked to AirAsia's internal database, meaning it is able to respond to much more specific questions than a Messenger-built bot. The downside is that it can’t exist outside of the AirAsia digital ecosystem

AVA also scored well on personality, reflecting the airline’s “signature stewardess hospitality – fun, bold, and helpful” according to the study.

“If there is anything more we can ask for, it is for AVA to talk less like a digital assistant and more like a human being,” it added. “With more character and personal flair, users can be driven to chat with AVA beyond asking questions about flights.”

Sourced from Entropia; additional; content by WARC staff