Mary Tomasso: “Don’t just write a conversation. Speak it”

Taking Turns with Mary Tomasso

Mary Tomasso’s story is, in a way, the story of the remote working online industry over the last decade or so. She started working online in 2009, by creating content and helping hundreds of people get their business from the streets and malls to the virtual space; then, when conversational AI entered the field, she joined, too, via her website, MaryTomasso.com. In the second episode of our new web series, Taking Turns, we asked the Italian-born, 5-language-speaking Mary to share her experience with us, and also to tell how it was to create a component, using our tools at CoCoHub.

• HOW DID YOU GET INTO CONVERSATION DESIGN?

Well, I’m a translator by education but in the last 11 years I started to work online. So I’ve done a lot of things. I started as a human virtual assistant, and then ended up working with content a lot because, let’s say, the written word is my thing. So I worked as a content writer, and I have also started to train people who want to start their own online business and one day I saw an ad, from RoboCopy, about their course, and I thought wow, this is really something that I I want to learn because it’s helping – for me communications has always been most important thing; with translation you facilitate communication between human beings, but when I heard about conversation design – ok, now I can facilitate communication between humans and machines. That’s how I started my new adventure.

WHAT’S THE PROJECT YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF?

Yeah, well right now it’s really still new. It’s actually a component on CoCo, but I am really excited about it, because I can combine my years of experience training people and Chatbot, a conversational component which I hope will grow right now – it’s just a small component – it’s just how to start as a virtual, a human virtual assistant (We have to specify what kind of virtual assistant…).

CHAT WITH MARY’S COMPONENT HERE

• WHAT’S THE ONE THING EVERY GOOD CHATBOT/VOICE ASSISTANT MUST HAVE?

Definitely a personality, from my experience. You really see when it lacks personality, especially when something is not working, you know, like if the bot doesn’t understand, so you see this very annoying things like ‘sorry, I don’t understand you, I’m just learning’, and you can tell that’s not how humans would communicate. So if you create a personality then it might be something witty like a bot that makes jokes, or if the bot doesn’t understand, It can still give a nice experience to the person who is waiting or hearing.

Previously on Taking Turns 
Michelle Zhou: “Humans talking to machines are brutally honest”

• WHAT TIPS CAN YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING CONVERSATIONAL DESIGNERS, OR TO PEOPLE WHO WANTS TO JOIN THIS PROFESSION?

First of all, study – or if you don’t want to take a course of the list, watch all the videos that are available, free online of both educational videos or videos of other conversation designer who are explaining what they do and the one tip that I would give is even if you are into chatbots and not voice bots, still when you design something – speak it. Don’t just write it because it’s so different, the way we – human – communicate, what we communicate by speaking, not by text, so it’s very different and when you start you think you have created an awesome conversational flow, but then when you speak it, that’s where you find the bugs or just room for improvements.

• SINCE YOU’RE ALREADY CREATING MULTIPLE COCO’S, CAN YOU SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH THEM?

I love it because I just love the idea of the conversational components – because if you have to sit down and create a flow from scratch, it’s very difficult. You also realize that it makes more sense to build components because then you can have a use case with one component, and then because they are modular, you can build on them. I think it’s genius.

• TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR WEBSITE, MARYTOMASSO.COM.

I think that’s my experience working online for 11 years and having worked with hundreds of clients, help them build or manage online business and also having helped hundreds of people creating their own online business gives me the opportunity to help people who wants to use chatbots/voice assistants with their own business, especially to automate marketing processes for instance, but also support business processes.

• WHAT IS THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU GOT FROM ONE OF YOUR TRAINEES?

Well, I think that’s one of the best thing I’ve ever heard: ‘you helped me, you changed my life’, or ‘you helped me to change my life’, because when you’re training people to work as a human virtual assistant, change my life, because when you’re training people to work as a human virtual assistant they can work from everywhere in the world. They are not dependent on a full-time job, 8 hours in an office. So that’s the most amazing thing I’ve heard.

Next week, we’ll have Chapter #3 of Taking Turns! In the meanwhile – you’re welcomed to subscribe to our YouTube channel | Join our Discord community | Sign up for our newsletter | Follow us on FacebookLinkedInInstagram or Twitter

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