The Secret Ingredients That Make ALEX So Engaging to Employees

Mark Rader Benefits Communication

Here at Jellyvision, we thrive on transforming confusing, yawn-inducing subject matter into uniquely entertaining interactive experiences that help people really, truly understand information they’ve never understood before.

So what’s the trick to creating these unusually engaging conversations? Conversations like, say, ALEX the virtual benefits counselor?

Well, the full recipe is super-duper top secret*. But here are four of the main ingredients that get stirred into the mix:

1. Entertainment Mojo

Jellyvision’s roots are in entertainment.

YOU DON’T KNOW JACK – a blockbuster interactive trivia game that sold over 5 million copies and won more than 60 industry awards–was our blockbuster franchise in the ’90s, back when we were a gaming company. These days, though the super-fun-game-making happens at our sister company, Jackbox Games, everything we learned about how to entertain people when creating YDKJ we now put into the service of driving education and behavior change.

2. The Human Voice

When a clear, conversational script is performed by an extraordinary actor, it creates intimacy and trust like nothing else.

No, employees don’t think a real live person is talking to them through their computer screen. We hope they don’t, at least. We’d be a little worried about them.

But here’s the amazing thing: when voice work is done just right–when every response is recorded and programmed to feel immediate and natural to the ear–we humans will suspend our disbelief and start to feel like we’re in the hands of a real, helpful, friendly other person. And it’s that feeling of connection that keeps us smiling and moving forward.

3. Interactive Conversation

We invented–and have spent decades perfecting–this innovative form of communication. In fact, our founder and the mastermind behind iCi (Interactive Conversation Interface) Harry Gottlieb wrote a book on the subject called The Jack Principles, which has served as a bible of sorts for every virtual conversation Jellyvision has ever created–including ALEX.

If you’re not familiar, the key to the effectiveness of interactive conversations are their ability to “listen” to the responses of an individual and respond to those responses in a way that creates an experience personalized to that particular person.

To create Interactive Conversations that could be truly individualized for each person in front of the screen, we had to create our own authoring tool. So we did. It’s called Talkshow and it lets our writers, artists and media producers whip up all sorts of magic.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a blurry screenshot of a Talkshow flowchart:

4. The Science of Persuasion

We want to know the very best ways to 1) get as many people as possible to pay close attention while not feeling overwhelmed, and 2) help them make great decisions. And with the help of our trusty team of behavioral science nerds, we’re always discovering new ways to do just that.

The research this team has sussed out – studies by behavioral economists like Daniel Pink, BJ Fogg, Richard Thaler, Cass Sunstein, Robert Cialdini and Dan Ariely, to name a few – has guided, and continues to guide, our scriptwriting, art direction, and sound direction.

*Not true about the top-secret-ness. We’re an open book.