What is involved in the making of a beauty chatbot?

By Becky Bargh | 16-Jan-2018

An insight into the brains behind the creation of Smashbox's new beauty chatbot

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As the beauty industry plunges deeper into the world of digital, brands are seeking new and innovative ways to take advantage of online platforms and engage with their customers.

Hannah Ashraf

Hannah Ashraf

Augmented reality, virtual reality, 'try-on' apps and digital skin consultations are just a few technologies surging across the market and building in popularity.

Hot on the heels of Smashbox's Facebook chatbot launch, Cosmetics Business caught up with Hannah Ashraf, Social Media Manager at Smashbox, who was quite literally responsible for putting words into the bot's mouth.

Here, she discusses how she went about creating content for the chatbot, from emojis to personalised replies, and the importance of creating a personality...

Where did you start when creating the Chatbot?

To get a real understanding of the consumer journey we were active in a variety of different bots to identify user flows which we found useful and any bug bears we had experienced whilst using them.

Once we had the user flow in place, we knew from our user behaviour that we wanted the conversations in the chatbot to be as clear and directional as possible.

Keeping the Smashbox tone of voice throughout the Bot was very important and this DNA was carried throughout to create the voice of the beauty savvy millennial consumer.

What was your strategy to get to know your audience?


We used a social listening tool to analyse conversations around beauty and Smashbox on social.

We wanted to get an understanding of how beauty buffs communicate with each other to ensure that the chatbot represented a like-minded peer who is approachable, helpful and engaging.

Tell us about the use of emojis...

Choosing the emojis was the fun part.

We wanted to really tap into the private messaging behaviour and to do so asked our make-up artists and staff what emojis feature in their ‘frequently used’ tab.

Obviously the *sassy hand emoji* was a strong favourite.


How did you want the tone of the language to come across?


It was very important that we wanted the voice of the Chatbot to be the voice of the user.

You will be introduced to the Smashbox crew who want to hang out and share beauty secrets with you.

It’s your very own beauty consultation that can be accessed on the go.

The voice is representation of this and uses a very approachable, sassy and millennial tone of voice.

The content is also useful and helpful to give the user a reason to return with updated content based on seasonality and reactive trends.

We wanted the experience to mirror you going out shopping with your friends, you try on that lipstick and they’ll tell you that you look fire.


What was the biggest hurdle to overcome?

With this being the first chatbot that the Smashbox team had worked on we had a lot of learnings and hurdles along the way.

Sometimes we’d have to make a decision to delay the launch of the chatbot in order to make the experience better.

For example, at one point we hadn’t got multi-shade try-on for eye shadow for our bestselling Ablaze Covershot palette.

When trying on a palette you need to see more than one shade so we worked with Modiface to allow this in order to give the user a closer idea of the product finish.

We’re constantly tweaking the try on as we learn more – it’s an on-going process.

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