Great article Jess Thoms We spend effort choosing our live chat avatars as we know from ux research that a mid 20's female avatar will feel trustworthy to the majority of our users, so you’re right, their bot replacements should also warrant time and research invested in them.
I recently ran some user test sessions on our latest product and we were deciding between a robot avatar or a real person avatar. One piece of feedback we received read “Sarah is better as I know she’ll help me, I don’t feel that from the robot”. I have to admit, we put zero effort into our bot and we failed to consider its personality. This is something I will definitely consider moving forward as bots with a personality will feel much more human to our users.