What AI Chatbot to Build in 2024: Female, Male, or Gender Neutral?

AI chatbots are almost everywhere, even if you don’t realize you are communicating with one, with more and more companies integrating the new AI technology into their business, whether it is to help provide customer service or offer support in other areas.

According to the Research and Markets report, the chatbot market size has grown exponentially in recent years and is projected to reach $8.43 billion in 2024.

As a result, one of the subsequent tasks at hand is deciding what chatbot personality to assign the AI personal assistant to stay on brand and gain a competitive edge.

Female, male, or gender-neutral: What personality would better fit your business? In this article, we explore the key factors to consider and get the experts’ insights on the matter.

Key Takeaways

  • AI chatbots can help save time and money on certain tasks for modern businesses, enabling human-like interactions through text or voice, based on both pre-set rules and machine learning algorithms.
  • Selecting a chatbot’s personality involves a comprehensive evaluation of factors like the chatbot’s purpose, company goals, design, user experience, and more, ensuring alignment with business objectives while maintaining a positive user experience.
  • The chatbot market is expected to see substantial growth, driven by the benefits they offer in customer support, marketing, and sales, and the significant cost and time savings for businesses.
  • The approach to selecting a chatbot’s gender or personality is often dictated by the brand’s identity and audience engagement strategy, with major brands developing distinct chatbot personas that reflect their brand’s tone and values.

What to Consider When Building an AI Chatbot?

When building an AI chatbot, businesses must think about a range of factors to ensure it meets the needs of the company.

As a result, business owners have to define its purpose, design, functionality, and user experience, as well as security implications and compliance. The costs pose another crucial factor to consider.

Advertisements

By opting for AI chatbots’ capabilities, businesses could save time on certain tasks. For example, it might be cheaper to integrate a chatbot over hiring a human customer services or administration assistant to take calls and log emails.

According to Tidio’s research, businesses adopting chatbot technology have experienced cost savings of up to $11 billion in 2022. However, not all would agree with this approach despite the potential cost savings.

Customer preferences also play a key role in shaping chatbot strategies. According to Tidio, about 53% of consumers find waiting too long for replies the most frustrating aspect of interacting with businesses. If the alternative was to wait 15 minutes for a response, 62% of consumers would rather talk to a chatbot than a human agent.

In a bid to further enhance the customer experience, having the option to select chatbot personalities could also drive customer engagement.

Why Is It Important for Businesses to Consider Chatbot Gender and Personality?

Alex Choi, an AI chatbot conversational specialist at Vodafone, told Techopedia that while many organizations have opted for an identity-less and genderless bot, adding a humanlike persona can be incredibly valuable to a chatbot and add to a brand.

“Particularly from a customer support perspective, you want customers to feel as if the chatbot they are talking to empathizes with their issue and is there to help them. Providing a human persona is a method of encouraging our customers to use a chatbot and to remove the impression that it is just a robot that won’t be able to help them, blocking them from reaching a real human.”

Choi noted that gender is just one aspect of a persona when crafting a chatbot.

There are various characteristics that can be considered to give a chatbot a tone of voice that represents a brand.

“A chatbot might also have hobbies, interests and certain mannerisms that can reinforce a brand and help customers relate and understand your chatbot. We want customers to explain their problems to chatbots as if they were explaining it to a human and adding personality can help to nurture a more natural conversation,” he said.

Choi also admitted that the most crucial aspect is that chatbots shouldn’t reinforce or encourage stereotypes and said it is a vital balance to be struck when implementing a persona. He added:

“For example, integrating gender-unbiased data or utilizing more inclusive language can be methods to combat this. When done correctly, a chatbot persona can be an ambassador of a brand, just as someone in a retail store might be.

 

“In addition, our chatbot persona is international, and in languages that use gendered pronouns, it can be difficult to achieve a genderless bot. Chatbot personas can be incredibly valuable to a brand, but they need to ensure they avoid any bias to serve a diverse community.”

Creating a More Inclusive and Engaging User Experience

Meanwhile, Ries Deijkers, CEO and founder of Chatbots.Expert, shared with us his view on how in today’s society, LGBTI+ and other gender-related issues are getting more sensitive than ever before.

Therefore, it is essential for businesses to consider chatbot gender and personality which helps create a more inclusive and engaging user experience that also aligns with a business brand values and also resonates with the target audience.

He told Techopedia:

“By tailoring the chatbot’s gender and personality to match their target audiences, businesses can establish a stronger connection with their customers, enhance their brand perception, and improve on their KPIs like customer satisfaction (CSAT). It also contributes to building trust and relationships, ultimately leading to better communication and increased effectiveness of the chatbot in assisting customers.”

According to Deijkers, when businesses design chatbots with consideration for gender and personality, they are essentially customizing the user experience to better resonate with their target audience.

Deijkers also highlighted a few reasons why this is important:

1. Inclusivity

He highlighted how not all users identify with the same gender or personality traits. By offering chatbots with diverse gender representations and personalities, businesses can ensure that their interactions are inclusive and respectful of all users, regardless of their backgrounds or preferences.

2. Engagement

Deijkers said that people tend to engage more with chatbots that they perceive as relatable or likable.

“By aligning the chatbot’s personality with the brand’s identity and the preferences of the target audience, businesses can create a more engaging and enjoyable user experience, leading to higher levels of interaction and satisfaction.”

3. Brand Perception

Furthermore, he explained how chatbots serve as brand ambassadors, representing the values and characteristics of the business.

“A chatbot’s gender and personality can significantly influence how users perceive the brand. For example, a friendly and helpful chatbot might leave users with a positive impression of the brand’s customer service, while a more formal or authoritative chatbot might convey professionalism and reliability.”

4. Communication Style

“Different personalities and genders communicate in different ways. By tailoring the chatbot’s language, tone, and style to match the preferences of the target audience, businesses can ensure that the communication feels natural and resonates with users, leading to more effective interactions and higher levels of user satisfaction,” Deijkers noted.

Why Choose if an AI Chatbot Can Switch Between Genders

When it comes to some real-life examples, the expert highlighted how in an e-commerce environment, for example, the chatbot of a clothing webshop could have a female gender and personality for female clothes and/or when a customer profile indicates the customer is a female.

When the customer profile indicates the customer is male, the bot can automatically switch its gender and personality to male when addressing questions on men’s clothing.

It could improve the customer experience when the bot’s comments on customers’ choices, for instance, are being given with either specific female or male empathy.

“In an example of a social/medical chatbot where, for instance, women can discuss their female experiences regarding inappropriate behavior by men or monthly discomforts, a female chatbot’s gender and personality make much more sense from a similar gender-understanding perspective.

“We believe that in such cases, a male gender/personality chatbot cannot express credible empathy and would therefore not be used by most women. Today, technology can support it, so why not use it to create bots that serve us the most appropriate and best way possible,” Deijkers said.

What’s the Rationale for Selecting a Gender-Specific Chatbot?

In addition to Deijkers’ comments on this process, other companies have shared their rationale on this, also noting how choosing a gender or personality can align with brand values while also saving time and costs.

Why H&M Opted to Keep It Simple

H&M Bot in Action.
H&M Bot in Action. Source: Chatbotguide

We spoke to H&M about how it went about choosing the personality of its own company chatbot. A spokesperson for the retail giant explained to Techopadia:

“The chatbot on H&M’s website was launched in 2018. During planning, it was discussed thoroughly whether the bot should have a name, a gender or an avatar. As a company that operates on markets around the globe, it is wiser to keep it simple, so the team that planned and designed the chatbot decided to go for a neutral chatbot. The tonality of the answers from the chatbot is kind and follows the same guidelines as our colleagues in Customer Service.”

For further examples, brands like Apple, Mercedes, Sephora, and Domino’s are just some of the major names that have developed chatbots with what one may consider a personality.

Apple’s Siri, for example, is known for its witty and friendly personality when you ask it numerous questions that customers can have fun with, while the Dominino’s Dom chatbot is known for its casual and fun tone when helping with pizza orders.

Meanwhile, Sephora’s chatbot helps with beauty advice in a very knowledgeable, guided tone.

Mercedes has its own chatbot that engages with drivers whilst on the road, and like Siri, can answer and prompt numerous other services without distracting the driver, like changing the radio station.

While these companies have not yet responded to direct requests regarding their chatbots, much intel is already available from their previous announcements.

Siri – From Female Chatbot to Gender-Neutral

Apple's Siri AI Assistant.
Apple’s Siri AI Assistant. Source: Apple

Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, for example, is designed to be gender-neutral. Initially, however, Siri was a female chatbot until Apple added a gender option, enabling a male voice counterpart.

As such, it can now have either a male or female voice depending on the user’s preferences and the settings in their device.

Apple also now provides a variety of voice options for Siri in different accents and languages, allowing users to choose the one they prefer.

This choice would suggest that Apple is opting to be more inclusive, ensuring that users can interact with Siri in a way that feels most comfortable and natural to them.

Apple said in a previous statement to Axios:

“We’re excited to introduce a new Siri voice for English speakers, giving users more options to choose a voice that speaks to them. Millions of people around the world rely on Siri every day to help get things done, so we work to make the experience feel as personalized as possible.”

Selecting the Best AI Chatbot for Business

Domino’s chatbot Dom, meanwhile, helps users order pizza and answers questions related to Domino’s services. Dom is often referred to with male pronouns in marketing materials and by the company itself.

Specific reasons behind choosing a male persona for Dom, however, have not been explicitly detailed by Domino’s. It could be a choice resulting in market research on the company’s target audience.

Sephora’s chatbot, like Apple, does not appear to have taken on a specific gender identity. However, the bot does have a personable approach. It serves as a digital beauty assistant with a vast knowledge of the products and offers ingredient lists and usage tips.

Sephora was one of the first brands in the retail sector to explore such chatbot marketing. They first employed a chatbot through Kik and launched Sephora Reservation Assistant on Facebook Messenger.

Sephora AI Assistant.
Sephora AI Assistant. Source: Chatbotguide

Chatbot Developers on the Design Factors to Consider

Whether it is aligning values to ensure inclusivity when choosing the gender of a chatbot or whether it is making the chatbot more fun and informal to speak to a younger audience, these are just some of the factors that companies have to consider when creating a chatbot.

In terms of gender selection, the decision to use a gender-neutral approach can depend on the brand’s inclusivity goals. However, the overall trend indicates a move towards creating chatbot personas that are designed to appeal to a wide audience.

Olla Adams, a chatbot developer at Coven Works, told Techopedia:

“From my own experience, I think assigning a gender or personality to a chatbot can influence how users perceive and interact with it. By allowing for customization in this aspect, businesses can tailor the chatbot to better suit their target audience and create a more engaging user experience.

 

“Secondly, considering gender and personality in AI chatbots is crucial for businesses to demonstrate inclusivity, promote positive user interactions, and align with evolving societal value.”

The Importance of Chatbot Integration in Business

Muhammad Hassan, founder and AI developer at Trixly and GPT Chatbot, told Techopedia why conversational chatbots are now in demand: “They play a significant role in reducing customers’ acquired cost and can act like virtual assistants for the company providing assistance with a better response time and greater accuracy.”

“To build a ChatBot, you need to either fine-tune the existing pre-trained model using transformers or the other and more trendy way is to build it using retrieval augmented generation technique (RAG),” Hassan said.

Ries Deijkers also highlighted the importance of chatbot integration, as many companies are using AI chatbots for innovating, automating and optimizing their business processes, either to improve the customer experience (CX) or to reduce costs. He said:

“Chatbots are not new; they have existed since 1966 when Eliza was launched as the first chatbot. With AI, natural language processing (NLP) and large language models (LLMs) maturing fast over the past years, intelligent AI-driven chatbots are capable of understanding and doing much more compared to the dumb pre-programmed scripted FAQ bots that have been out there for decades and which did not really improve the CX in many cases.”

Today’s most advanced chat- and voice bots are built on innovative and versatile conversational AI (CAI) platforms that can use NLPs (e.g., Google Dialogflow, IBM Watson, etc.) and LLMs (e.g., OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google Gemini, etc.) together in a single chatbot.

“Some even more advanced CAI platforms (e.g., our Antonic.ai platform) can even use multiple NLPs and multiple LLMs in a single chatbot, which today is the most effective way to avoid chatbot responses like: ‘I don’t understand your question’,” he explained.

Deijkers also highlighted how, in general, CAI/NLPs are used for understanding and responding to process-related questions (e.g., ‘When can I expect delivery of my order?’), while LLMs are used for information-related questions (e.g., ‘What is the size of this box?’ or ‘What are your opening times?’).

“An open domain LLM consists of public internet data, while a closed domain LLM consists of private data from company PDF files, websites, and other company data sources. A chatbot can retrieve the data from these data resources, which is relevant to the question or conversation.

“With these smart AI-driven chatbots, today some 80-90% of all customer questions and inquiries can be handled by the bot automatically, offering a good level of 24/7 self-service to customers while offloading customer service/support teams.”

Deijkers further noted that for companies to meet their objectives and KPIs, such as customer satisfaction and customer retention, it is important for businesses to continuously train and optimize their chatbots.

“The remaining 10-20% of the questions that cannot be handled by the chatbot – due to the complexity of the inquiry or due to issues that simply require human intervention – need to be intelligently intent-based routed to a live agent that needs to be available and has the skills and proficiencies to handle the request.

“Quite often with hand-offs, people land in waiting queues, which does not contribute to improving customer experience. To reduce the waiting time, this hand-off can be done pro-actively (injecting an agent into the conversation) and/or based on user profile or service levels and based on dynamic triaging (an algorithm that dynamically decides which user gets a higher priority over another user),” he added.

The Bottom Line

The widespread adoption of AI chatbots across various sectors underscores the technology’s role in reshaping customer service and engagement. These digital assistants, like Sephora’s, can facilitate interactions through advanced simulation of human conversation but also reflect the evolving dynamics of customer expectations and business strategies.

The journey of integrating a chatbot into a business, however, involves meticulous consideration of its personality and gender to ensure it resonates with the brand’s identity, appeals to its audience, and remains inclusive.

Moreover, humans like talking to humans. Therefore, the strategic deployment of AI chatbots is not just about technological integration but also about ensuring appropriate support and monitoring, as well as crafting digital personalities that embody a brand’s ethos, engage customers meaningfully, and drive operational efficiency.

FAQs

What gender are chatbots?

Can AI have a gender?

Why are most chatbots female?

Advertisements

Related Reading

Related Terms

Advertisements
Angela Barnes
Finance Presenter

Recognized as “one of Europe’s most prominent news figures” in Ireland’s Better Business magazine, Angela began her career at Sky News in 2008, working as a producer, reporter, and presenter for more than a decade. She has since worked for CNBC, ITV, IG, and Capital.com, helping to launch and anchor various new shows.  She is currently helping Euronews to oversee the channel’s business news coverage from Brussels. Angela is also involved in high-segment media work for the United Nations in Geneva and advises some of the world’s biggest banks on their media communications strategies. Alongside Techopedia, she also contributes news…