How TV screenwriters are giving TD's new chatbot an almost human charm

Once you get to know TD Clari ("Clari"), you might find it to be friendly, approachable, and even hopeful.

That's because Clari was written that way.

You see, Clari is TD's new chatbot; a computer program designed to power online and real-time interactions with customers while providing answers to a variety of questions.

The problem with many chatbots is that they give robotic responses and users know pretty quickly that they're talking to a machine. Clari was designed to be a virtual assistant that possesses an almost human charm, offering as natural an interaction as possible for customers.

So, who do you turn to when you need to create a futuristic chatbot with a personality that sounds as human as possible?

Hollywood, of course.

To make the customer experience with Clari as easy as texting with a friend, TV screenwriters with experience writing for programs in Hollywood and Canada were hired to help bring the chatbot to life in a way that is distinctly TD. 

Just launched, Clari is capable of giving customers real-time insights into their accounts and transactions, making them feel more confident about their finances. Unlike other major banking chatbots, once you authenticate and login to TD's secure mobile environment, Clari will be able to provide customers' real-time responses to general account, activity and transaction questions. This means users can ask personal questions about their finances, such as how much they spent on gas last month, when their next bill payment is due, or how much they spent at their favourite store.

Tapping into television writers

Okay, but why screenwriters?

They're pros at creating characters and using conversation to create an emotional connection with their audience. At its core, Clari is a character of sorts, and is designed to have unique characteristics and personality traits, such as "friendly" and "approachable"—traits that define TD's brand.  

"Our team was faced with the interesting challenge of figuring out how we ensure our chatbot reflects the same brand values that TD upholds across all our customer channels," says Theresa McLaughlin, TD's Global Chief Marketing, Citizenship and Customer Experience Officer. "Our solution was to work with writers who are experts in using conversation to create personalities, and we're thrilled about how this collaboration is helping us deepen our relationships with our customers in a whole new way."

Having a well-defined character that understands the customer's needs and communicates well is the key to creating a chatbot that provides a natural user experience.

"The goal with Clari is to empower customers with easy, personalized access to information whenever they need it," says Todd Copeland, SVP Digital, TD Bank Group. "Technology does many things for us, but married with a human connection, it gives people an even better experience by building financial confidence with a lighthearted approach."

The screenwriter's approach

So, with all the people who will be writing responses for Clari, how do you ensure its voice remains consistent? 

The screenwriters behind Clari started their work by creating something of a writing guide commonly referred to in the TV industry as a 'writer's bible.' In the entertainment industry, television shows and movie series often have many people writing for a single character, so keeping things consistent requires a single style guide that contains all the background information a writer needs, such as the character's backstory, likes and dislikes, character flaws, sense of humor, commonly used phrases and word choices.

Clari's writer's bible will help current and future writers maintain a consistent user experience as the chatbot evolves with user feedback and advancements in Conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This writing guide also ensures that Clari's character and tone uphold the same standard of personalized service that TD customers get in any channel they choose to communicate with the bank, whether it's in a branch, on the phone, or online.

Meet Clari for yourself

TD customers can try out Clari by downloading the TD mobile app for iOS here (Android coming soon). Easily find Clari in the app drop-down menu or at the bottom of your app home screen, and start chatting!