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How Emotionally Intelligent is your Chatbot?

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  • Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a measure of how good an individual is at communicating.
  • A chatbot that shows a good level of EQ will form stronger relationships with people.
  • You can measure your chatbot’s EQ with this questionnaire.
  • Your chatbot’s emotional intelligence should based on its personality and what its supposed to do.
  • You can improve your chatbot’s EQ by making it more empathetic. To do that, you should make sure responses are helpful, utilise tone matching, and add a personal touch.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, has fast become a mainstay of self-help gurus.

There are plenty of claims surrounding emotional intelligence. Reduced anxiety, improved relationships. Some even claim you can earn more money by improving your EQ.

Whether or not these claims are true, it seems that EQ does help when it comes to empathising and building working relationships.

This poses a couple of questions when it comes to chatbots and .

How emotionally intelligent is your chatbot?

How emotionally intelligent should they be?

And how can you improve your chatbot’s emotional intelligence?

Let’s take a look…

Compared to standard measures of intelligence, like the IQ test, emotional intelligence isn’t as obviously measurable.

Psychologists have established three different types of tests you can use to measure EQ. They are self-testing, other-testing (or observational) and ability testing.

When it comes to your, it’s safe to say it won’t be able to test its own EQ, so let’s rule that one out right away.

That leaves other-testing and ability testing.

Other-testing is where an external observer assesses your emotional intelligence. In this case, it would mean that you or someone else interacts with your chatbot and then decides how emotionally intelligent it is.

Ability testing is where you ask the subject to imagine various situations and test their ability (hence the name) to predict people’s emotions.

Ability testing is perhaps the most accurate means of measuring EQ. Unfortunately, unless you have a really, really advanced chatbot, it won’t have a chance at understanding the questions.

So that means we need to focus on observational testing. Whilst you can do this yourself, you may introduce a level of bias into the testing. For that reason you may be better off finding a third-party to test your chatbot for you.

NOTE: We measure your chatbot’s emotional intelligence as part of our .

So, how exactly does this test work?

Generally speaking, observational testing consists of answering a series of questions that will give an idea of the subject’s EQ.

We’re talking about questions like this:

The subject is able to read people well.

Not true. Somewhat true. Very true.

There are some standardised questions out there. The only problem is that they’re obviously focused on human subjects. As such, they aren’t all applicable to .

That’s why we wrote our own list of questions to help you measure your chatbot’s EQ.

Then it’s a case of having people interact with your chatbot and filling out the questionnaire.

It’s best to have multiple people assess your chatbot’s EQ. This will result in more accurate responses.

This will give your chatbot a score for their emotional intelligence.

But what constitutes a good EQ for your chatbot?

While your first instinct might be to say that the more emotionally intelligent the better, that’s not strictly the case.

There are a couple of things you need to consider when thinking about your chatbot’s EQ.

Firstly, what kind of personality does your chatbot have?

If your is cold and calculating, more on the robot side than the human side, then it makes sense for it to score low on the EQ scale.

If, however, your chatbot is warm and inviting, then you would expect it to have a higher EQ.

Your chatbot’s personality can have a huge impact on how emotionally intelligent it is.

Secondly, what purpose does your chatbot solve?

A chatbot that is designed to answer questions about a new car model doesn’t need to demonstrate much in the way of emotional intelligence.

On the other hand, a chatbot that is designed to provide support to someone grieving the loss of a pet will need to show very high levels of EQ.

Your chatbot’s purpose will determine how important emotional intelligence is.

You should also bear in mind that chatbots aren’t human, and they should never really try to be.

People should always be aware they’re talking to a chatbot. To convince them otherwise is deceitful and will end up hurting your brand when the truth comes out.

In that sense, your chatbot doesn’t need to have the emotional intelligence of a human. It doesn’t need to understand every single emotional nuance that humans show. Let’s face it, most humans don’t even understand them all.

So, don’t beat yourself up if your chatbot scores low on emotional intelligence.

But if you are wanting to improve your chatbot’s EQ, here’s how to do it…

One of the biggest ways of improving your own emotional intelligence is by learning to be more empathetic.

Empathy is a difficult skill to develop. It isn’t like playing the piano, where you can practice scales and chords to develop your playing.

But it isn’t impossible. You have to start listening more. Properly listening, not just thinking about what you’re going to say next. You need to start putting yourself in other people’s shoes, and seeing things from different perspectives.

Of course, as hard as this is for humans to master, it’s practically impossible to ask your chatbot to do the same.

That’s why you need to do it yourself. Be empathetic on your chatbot’s behalf.

Improving empathy by making your chatbot useful

The first step is to consider the kind of things that people are likely to ask your chatbot.

Some questions you’ll be able to predict by yourself. However, it’s also worth getting your chatbot in front of people, or reading through conversation logs, to pick out the most frequently asked questions.

Then you need to make sure your chatbot is ready to answer any of those questions with a relevant, helpful answer.

Consider this response:

The answer doesn’t actually help the user in any way. It shows a complete lack of empathy and emotional intelligence.

Here’s a better version:

As you can see, the answer is genuinely useful to the user. The chatbot has anticipated what the user will need.

This demonstrates that your chatbot is really “listening” to what your users are saying.

A more useful chatbot is a more empathetic chatbot.

Improving empathy with tone matching

A core component of empathy is tone matching. In other words, making sure your response is appropriate.

The example below shows a response that wouldn’t be considered empathetic whatsoever. It’s actually the opposite.

The tone of the chatbot’s response doesn’t match the tone of the conversation topic. That shows low emotional intelligence.

Here’s a much more appropriate response, that demonstrates the required EQ.

This is the power of tone matching. It instantly makes your chatbot more empathetic, and as a result improves its emotional intelligence.

As you write your chatbot script, consider the tone that your chatbot is using. Is it suitable for the topic? Does it match the kind of tone that people will use?

Tone matching is a great way of building empathy between your chatbot and your users.

Improving empathy by making it personal

A personal touch can go a long way to making your chatbot more empathetic, and improving EQ as a result.

Something as simple as referring to a user by name can make all the difference.

Plus, it’s super easy to do it.

All you need to do is ask. Why not make it one of the first things you ask someone?

Introducing your chatbot, and then having the user provide their name, feels perfectly natural. After all, that’s how most people greet a stranger, right?

Most people will be more than happy to give you their first name. And for those who’d rather not, they can simply make one up. They clearly aren’t looking for a personal touch anyway.

Once a user gives you their name, most chatbot building tools will enable you to store that name as a variable.

You can then refer to users by the variable they’ve given you.

The only thing you need to consider is that you need to use their name sparingly. Nobody calls someone by their name every time they speak to them. That’s weird.

So don’t go overboard. Use their name every now and then and you’ll be fine.

Adding a personal touch to your chatbot will make it far more empathetic.

  • Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a measure of how good an individual is at communicating.
  • A chatbot that shows a good level of EQ will form stronger relationships with people.
  • You can measure your chatbot’s EQ with this questionnaire.
  • Your chatbot’s emotional intelligence should based on its personality and what its supposed to do.
  • You can improve your chatbot’s EQ by making it more empathetic. To do that, you should make sure responses are helpful, utilise tone matching, and add a personal touch.



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