How to Design a Conversational Interface to Boost Engagement

A customer logs onto your website and wants to search for a product’s availability in their area of residence. A chatbot pops up to help the user navigate their requirements – “Greetings, human!” the chatbot goes. “What may your geographical location be?” While this may seem like a perfectly logical question, pay attention to the language. Do you sense a robotic undertone to it? A regular human conversation would not read or sound like that.

It’s almost as if you expect C-3PO from Star Wars at the other end of the chat. Though that would certainly be exciting, the golden robot’s language etiquette through the series has proved that it can be quite confusing to humans at times.

Tone and style are important when it comes to holding an impactful conversation, especially when it is through a screen. As the use of chatbots and artificial intelligence for business communication is increasing, it is no wonder that the attempts to bridge the communication gap between humans and machines is also growing. Humans tend to pay extra attention to messages that are “conversational” and conversational UI can play a big role in eliminating any language barriers between humans and bots.

What is a Conversational Interface or Conversational UI?

A conversational interface or CUI is an interface that imitates real human language. It uses plain language that makes the conversational experience seamless, like talking to a friend. Even though a machine is at the other end of the conversation, the language and logistics are designed to make the user feel closer to conversing with a human.

CUIs are logical and more sociable than traditional AI applications. The person who uses a CUI can direct the application to answer certain questions or navigate them to useful resources. However, it is important to note that CUIs are still machines. They may imitate human language, but still, be unable to offer as much in-depth support as an actual human. Yet, CUIs can be extremely effective as the first level of support.

So, a Conversational UI is a Friendly Chatbot?

Not quite. There’s a significant difference between chatbots and a genuine conversational experience with a CUI. For one, CUIs use Natural Language Processing (NLP) in messaging. NLP is a combination of linguistics and artificial intelligence that is designed to improve and enable communication between computers and humans.

Chatbots are essentially chat software and they may or may not be enabled with conversational UI. If a chatbot is a rules-driven bot, then it is programmed only to follow a predefined workflow. For instance, a survey chatbot will provide a pre-decided set of answers for users to pick from but may not be able to answer any questions the user may have.

On the other hand, an AI-driven chatbot with CUI programming that leverages NLP will be able to truly engage with the user to help them with their queries. And these CUI-based bots only get smarter with each human interaction they have – they learn.

The 5Cs of Conversational UI

Designing a conversational interface is different from building a graphical UI. While a text-based conversation may include a set flow, icons, emojis, menus, and options, a CUI needs to be much more. Here are the 5 classic Cs that make a solid conversational interface:

Communicative

A CUI is a two-way street and has to be built to learn and also be fluid. It needs to be engaging like human conversations, be intuitive, and understand what the user is trying to communicate.

Clear

Clear communication is of the essence when it comes to designing these bots. A good CUI should be able to ask simple questions and provide easy answers so the customer gets exactly what they are looking for.

Compassionate

A bot that is able to emulate human characteristics should be able to mimic empathy as well. Peppering in some small talk is a good way to go.

Characteristic

A charming personality never hurt anyone. In fact, it can make the conversation more interesting and memorable. A CUI with a distinct character that reflects your brand image can make a big impact on customers. Giving your CUI bot a name is a good start. For instance, Freshworks’ friendly bot Freddy is a reliable conversational UI ready to help you with your needs at any time!

Correcting

AI interfaces are not know-it-alls. Sometimes, it is okay to falter. However, it is important to have a corrective course in place. A well-designed CUI should have a default correct setting in place to provide recourse if it is stuck or redirects to a human agent.

The Types of Conversational UI

Broadly, there are two types of conversational UI in the market at present: chatbots and voice assistants.

CUI-based chatbots go beyond a simple chatbot and understand the nuances of human language. For instance, a chatbot with good natural language understanding should be able to understand that “nope”, “nah”, “never”, and “naw” is equivalent to “no”. They can be rule-based or adventure bots, such as a gamified version of a chatbot.

Voice assistants are bots that rely on auditory commands for communication. Powered by voice recognition technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, these bots do not need a graphical interface to communicate. Think Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, or Microsoft’s Cortana. In a way, NLP needs to be even more nuanced with voice assistants because users talk rather than type.

While both Chatbots and Voice Assistants have gained momentum as tools in daily life, chatbots are the more popular choice among businesses. The reasons are quite obvious. The technology is readily available for businesses to implement in a low cost and easy way. No matter the industry, region, or market-size, chatbots can fit every business need. While voice assistants are currently more useful in the form of virtual assistants front to undertake tasks, they currently don’t offer large scale customer service automation.

Why Use Conversational UI in Business?

Conversational UI is being employed not just in e-commerce but in a range of places: even musicians like Maroon 5 and Katy Perry have taken to it because of just how much sense it makes in terms of engagement and economy. From a business point of view, using CUI-enabled chatbots have a number of advantages.

Better Engagement

Chatbots that use the 5Cs of CUI well can keep customers engaged. Through personalized messaging, the right angle of questioning, and smart guidance, you can design your CUI chatbots to improve leads and establish a long-standing, loyal clientele.

Saves Time and Money

Chatbots are a great tool to save time, effort, and ultimately money. Employing chatbots for customer service or marketing efforts can save as much as $8 billion per year, according to Juniper Research. When enabled with AI and NLP, they can make messaging direct and hassle-free for customers as well, ultimately improving their user experience.

Cuts Waiting Time

With CUI chatbots, customers will no longer have to wait to get answers. Be it menu-based bots or redirection to human agents at the right time, the seamless and efficient interaction will leave your customers satisfied. Expect an average of 5-star ratings on feedback!

Integrates into Multiple Platforms

The other advantage of CUIs is that they are easy to integrate across platforms. From your website to popular third-party messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, you can plug them in into any medium. In a world where convenience is everything, your customers will appreciate the possibility to engage with you from any device and platform: just like connecting with friends and acquaintances.

Four Applications of Conversational UI

So, now that we’ve covered the sophistication and connection power of conversational UI, let’s look at some applications. While basic chatbots work well as simple website integrations for FAQs or straightforward responses, these smart bots and voice assistants can be used to do a range of things from filing insurance claims to scanning invoices for refunds or frauds.

When considering CUI integration into your digital workflow, here are some ideas on where to use them:

Customer Support

Get chatty with your customers. Humanize your support services even while using technology. AI-based bots can be designed to be fully-present and understand your customers’ issues to provide them with reliable answers. Research finds that 72% of people who have interacted with chatbots find them helpful and informative.

Vedantu Chat

Freshchat for Support 

Sales

Apart from being great at customer service, conversational UI can also drive sales. With the influence of social media rising and people engaging more on digital platforms, 74% of shoppers are now open to making purchases through chatbots. Use this technology to improve your sales and marketing efforts.

Instantprint chat

Freshchat for Sales 

 

Bookings and Reservations

The hospitality business runs on great service and communication. Be it a dining reservation or a vacation plan, AI bots can understand requirements fast and provide speedy options to customers. Provide a seamless and hassle-free booking and reservation experience to your customers with AI bots.

chat feedback

Freshchat for travel and hospitality 

Feedback

Even if you provide a great product and experience for your customers, there is always room for improvement. Technology can be a reliable tool to map user experience and quickly analyze satisfaction levels. Collect feedback and conduct quick surveys with bots without leaving your customers feeling overwhelmed.

Feedback

Collect feedback with Freshchat

Conversational Interface Best Practices

Keep it Simple

Given that the possible use cases of CUI are endless, with new ways of using it cropping up every day, it is easy to get tempted to do everything. When designing your interface, be it chatbots or voice assistants, keep it simple. Don’t overdo the features or use flashy commands just because you can. The point is to help your customers, not confuse them.

Put Your Customers Up and Center

The point of any technology is to make your customer’s experience seamless. One way to track that is to reduce the customer effort score. Build the interface keeping in mind what your customers want, not based on your individual fancies or what competitors are doing. Don’t be afraid to step out of the box, but only if you think it will help your customers. For instance, providing customers with an auto sign-in or sign-up option is great, but ensure that their privacy is maintained.

Mind Your Language

Conversational UI has evolved because of the need to be more human. Natural language processing enables that, but the developer is still in charge of coding and keying in the right commands to trigger a response from your bots. This is why it is crucial that you choose the right language, the right trigger words for commands and the tone that will embody your brand’s personality.

Choose Your Voice

When programming a voice assistant, the voice will represent your business. Choosing the right voice is crucial. Historically, voice user interfaces have often been female. Some research shows that people prefer listening to female voices because they are soothing and also psychologically date back to the in-utero experience. However, certain other studies chalk this up to be biased. At the end of the day, it is your brand and your user’s experience. Consider your target audience, your product, your brand’s image, and the social context while choosing a voice for your bot.

Train Your Bots

The beauty of AI bots is that they are marvelous learners. With every interaction, you can watch your bot grow, just like a child. And that’s why training them to be their best is essential. Right from the start, program your bot to be polite and empathetic. Teach your bot to disregard unacceptable tones and not be afraid to apologize when unable to understand something.

Make Room for Surprises

Humans are unpredictable. No matter how precise your coding or how impeccable your training, there will be questions and issues that will come out of the blue. Your bot may be the smartest of the lot, but they may still be caught off-guard. Know when it is time for your bot to relent and pass on the reins to a human agent. Design your interface so that it is seamless for your customers.

In Conversation with Freshchat

Want to explore conversational UI for your business support, sales, or marketing? Choose Freshchat, powered by friendly and fabulous Freddy, our very own AI bot. Engage in intentional messaging and conversations with your customers, set up precise responses, or seamlessly divert to a human agent! Our user experience is intelligent, not scripted, for the complete replication of human conversations. Get started now!