How The Stories You Tell Can Change Your Brand

Lessons from storytelling with a Chatbot Mar 16, 2018

The twenty-first century is one that has ready access to information. From physical advertisements to new technologies like A.I. and VR, media is ever evolving and new entities continue to form and build. Being in China and learning from WeChat Marketers for one, has taught me that. How do you stand out in the sea of noice and headlines screaming for attention? How do you transform attention you get into actual leads and loyal users or customers? Here’s what we’ve learnt from powerful storytelling with AskJerry, an A.I. powered Bartender Chatbot in WeChat.

#1 Customers Experience Value through Storytelling

What do a good salesperson and a good chatbot have in common? It’s the ability to understand and attend to your users’ needs. It’s the ability to sell a story. Customers need to feel that you care, before they invest and care about you. This might sound intuitive, but it does not translate to the reality we are in. Many content, or in our context, chatbots, fail to reach out and engage users because it’s always talking about ‘me’, which doesn’t speak out to users. On the other hand, when you build an brand based on the understanding of ‘uniqueness’ of each user, you display empathy of your users, which then in turn increases your appeal and relevance to your users.

Positioning the AskJerry as an A.I. Bartender Chatbot, we wanted to first understand what our users want from Jerry, and it turned out that a whooping 79% of the users were asking for a cocktail recipe from Jerry. Working on that gap, we were able to increase Jerry’s engagement with its users, and found that engagement to be positively correlated with sales in Jerry’s E-commerce shop — where there were 5% increase in sales for every 6 chats with ChatBot.

#2 Customers Empathise with a Good Story

Jerry is a young at heart, cross-cultural and well-mannered gentlemen who is knowledgeable but fun. He has a beard and wear glasses, lives on Yu Yuan Road and is an alcohol importer. He has a passion for music, tippling, travelling and reading and loves his dog Whiskey.

We know from our own experiences that fiction can affect individual readers as well as sway large numbers. Yet writers must not come across as overly preachy or manipulative. Thus the need for the entertainment factor. Even if we write to move our readers, either emotionally or to actually act on what they’ve read, we want to do it in a way that touches them without turning them off, that draws them in without making them wonder if we’re up to something, if we’re pushing a personal agenda, if we’re forcing some issue on them.

— Fiction Editor Beth Hill

Details matter — they make your brand relatable, providing an avenue for users to empathise with your brand. Humans empathise with what they know (a human, life-like persona) more than an inanimate, lifeless brand or robot. One example of such application here was having the users take care of Whiskey (Jerry’s pet dog), while the Jerrys (customer support team) were away for the Chinese New Year Holidays. They could choose to pet, feed or walk Whiskey during the week where there are no live support team, and they will then be rewarded with a cute picture of Whiskey or a coupon in Jerry’s store ;)

#3 Customers Champion a Good Story

RIKAI Labs is one of Shanghai's top tech startups. Backed by ChinAccelerator and 500 startups, we build chatbots for WeChat.

We've built bots for companies like VISA and Metlife, startups like 247tickets, and we also provide our own "TeacherBot" wechat account to learn english with an AI teacher.


David 'DC' Collier, CTO