How to design the perfect bot introduction

Win the user’s trust and set the right expectations from the start

Tess Tettelin
5 min readJan 27, 2021

As a famous rapper once said: “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime!” The same goes for chatbots really. When starting a conversation, your bot only gets one chance to make a great first impression and win the user’s trust. That is why a good introduction or welcome message is so important.

What is a welcome message?

No matter what channel you’re on, nearly every bot conversation starts with a welcome message. This is usually a warm and friendly greeting that gives the user some basic information to help them get started.

Think of your bot’s welcome message as your website’s homepage: This message can really impact the user’s overall impression of your brand, either attracting them to your business, or pushing them away from it.

A well-crafted welcome message should greet, onboard, and connect the user with the bot. It should feel easy and comfortable. It introduces the bot and its capabilities, and starts the conversation off on the right foot.

Here’s how to create the perfect welcome message:

1. Make clear the user is talking to a bot

Keep in mind that not everyone is as comfortable talking to a virtual something. Sure, most people know what a chatbot is by now, but I once watched my dad trying to use one — he’s 59, never used a computer in his life and only just got a smartphone — and let’s just say, it was a complete disaster. He thought he was chatting to an actual person and when that ‘person’ didn’t understand him, he swore to never use this company’s services again. So to avoid confusion, make sure to introduce your bot as what it is: a chatbot.

2. Explain the bot’s purpose

Introducing your bot as a virtual program also sets the right expectations with users as to what your bot can and cannot do. To avoid user questions that are not part of the bot’s scope, guide the user by letting them know about the bot’s purpose and capabilities right at the start:

This demo banking bot makes clear what it can do for the user

Small disclaimer: I know not every Conversation Designer is going to agree with me on using buttons. Some prefer to ask an open question to make the experience more conversational and sure, that works, but I like to make it as easy as possible for my users. I guess it all depends on what kind of bot you’re building.

3. Show some personality

Although bots are not humans, they are a key part of the conversation between your brand and its customers. So make sure your bot uses the right words and tone to represent your brand personality. Don’t be afraid to show some personality!

If you have time, read more about creating the perfect chatbot personality in one of my previous posts.

Pooch Bandan’s welcome message packs a lot of personality

4. Think outside the text

Are you looking to up your engagement? Use visuals! Our human brains are wired for visual processing: we retain about 80% of what we see versus just 20% of what we read.

Bot-building platforms like allow you to include images, GIFs, sound clips, and even videos in your chatbot messages. For example, a restaurant bot can use an image of the restaurant interior or the meals to make the conversation more engaging:

The restaurant’s bot shows the inside dining area to engage users straight away

5. Make it personal

One of the challenges of building a chatbot is that it will be used by different people. Some of them will interact with your bot regularly because they know and support your business, but there will be plenty of others talking to your bot who are engaging with your brand for the very first time.

Luckily there are many ways to personalize a chatbot experience. For example, a clever bot will make users feel as if they remember them, which in turn creates a personal connection. However, if your bot starts every conversation as if it has never met that same user before, this connection is gone. So use your user information wisely.

Using variables, this music bot can recognize returning users over new ones, and display a personalized welcome message that enhances the overall user experience.

Another way to personalize the conversation is by communicating with a user in their native language. Think multilingual chatbots 😉

Some prompts to help you get started

Here are a few welcome messages you can use to kick off the conversation. Make sure to pick one that fits the bot’s scope and use cases.

  1. Hi there, I’m _____. How can I help you today?
    Task 1 — Task 2 — Task 3

Introducing your bot, making the user feel welcome, and presenting them with the three most important use cases to choose from is a great way to start any bot conversation. It also saves a new user the time and effort of navigating your website to find the answer they’re looking for. 💁‍♀️

Visabot’s welcome message not only oozes personality, it also steers the user towards its main task.

2. Hi there! I’ve got a free _____. Shall I send it to you?

Lead generation is a great use case for chatbots. For example, your bot can engage a user by offering a discount or a freebie in exchange for their email address or phone number. Everyone loves free stuff and, compared to those horrible pop-up ads, chatbots are far less intrusive.

3. Hello, are you looking for _____? We’ve got the best deals!

Everyone loves a good discount too. Say hello to your user and let them know that there’s a discount available for new customers. I bet they’ll want to keep the conversation going and come back for more. 😉

Wrapping up

Keep in mind that a user’s first impression can also be their last. Make sure you’re set for a great user experience by crafting a bot’s welcome message that is warm, personal, to the point, and aligned with your company’s brand voice.

Hi there, I’m Tess, language lover and taco enthusiast! Currently Conversation Design Lead at Chatlayer by Sinch, I like to write about the things I learn and see when building multimodal bots.

Interested in knowing more about voice and chatbots? Want to swap ideas or talk conversation design? Reach out to me on Twitter!

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Tess Tettelin

Conversation Design Lead at Sinch. Writing about technology, human behaviour and anything else that crosses my mind.