What Is Conversational UI

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What Is Conversational UI

Dialogue or chat interfaces today are another fashion trend in new media. But «trendy» does not mean wrong or superficial. The «dialogue as a new environment» approach logically evolved from previous forms, breaking the established rules. Good conversation design does wonder for your business. Conversational user interfaces are not just limited to language assistants, chatbots or voice user interfaces also fall under this buzzword. This natural language interaction is often referred to as a paradigm shift and the future of interaction.

Chatbots are outstanding customer service tools that improve sales, provide a one-of-a-kind customer experience, and automate some of the most tedious tasks. Nevertheless, to unlock full potential and better control, you should understand how conversations between bots and customers work. Instead of focusing on chatbot technology and interface design, it can be helpful to think of the chatbot design problem as something related to interaction and conversational format.

What is a Conversational UI?

A conversational UI is an interface that allows the user to get the necessary information using a text or voice request. In other words, if earlier computers could recognize commands written only in a programming language, now artificial intelligence also understands spoken language — all thanks to machine learning. The primary idea of ​​the conversational interface is to streamline communication between the user and the system.

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There are currently two types of conversational UI tools: chatbots and voice assistants. Compared to voice commands, text interaction is more standard for users, and therefore chatbots are becoming more common in the commercial sector.

A bot is an assistant program in which a live person and a system exchange messages with a set of ready-made or artificially generated answers. A chat interface is a communication format similar to correspondence, a dialogue. Suppose you add a bot to the conversational UI. In that case, you get a casual environment in which the bot strives for the naturalness of the language and simulates a conversation with a live participant.

Chat interfaces differ from chatbots in that they can be immediately followed by people or put in contact with them. That is, every chatbot has a chat interface. But not all chat interfaces have bots. We are more interested in conversational interfaces with bots. After all, it is unrealistic to build a dialogue media based on communication with real people for various reasons (time, finances).

Is conversational UI suitable for me?

The conversational UIs are helpful when they advise, support, or encourage the user. Text or voice chatbots are especially suitable for FAQs, medical history, or customer service because they inform or guide the customer step by step in the dialogue.

Especially when users are driving, cooking, or typing, when they need information, set the alarm, or want to hear the weather forecast, the CUI interface is indispensable. Language assistants are becoming more and more important because these voice interfaces are often better integrated into everyday life than graphical interfaces.

Reasons for the relevance of conversational interfaces

Chatbots are bound to popularity for numerous reasons. They often do not require particular installation but are built into a familiar messenger, application, or website.

Like any technology, chatbots created into conversational interfaces have drawbacks and limitations. Each of the bots is adapted for a small range of operations. Based on this, the possibilities of the proposed solutions, the query language itself, and possible answers are limited to specific scenarios. In addition, bots may not understand all-natural language commands (or even be deliberately limited to special operator commands).

The primary thing in understanding conversational UIs is the principle of dialogue, human communication in the format of questions and answers. Among the most apparent advantages:

  • If the bot is appropriately focused on solving a specific task, it does it quickly and without unnecessary questions, offering a structured interaction scenario. The bot will competently conduct a question and answer session, analyze vast amounts of information almost instantly, and choose the most appropriate answers and solutions in the dialogue format. If a problem has a finite set of possible solutions, even if there are thousands or millions, the algorithm will find the best solution better than any human.
  • Built into other networks and services, the chatbot has access to various information about the user. It does not need to get to know you, specify the location, ask for a credit card number, and so on — with your permission, it will pull up this information from other sources. As a result, your dialogue with it will be reduced to a minimum, the interaction will be shorter, and the person will save a lot of time and effort. It adds value to the user and gives them a positive experience.

The chatbot is always on guard for your interests. It is active and ready to help. The user himself can set up a regular or situational notification system from the bot. A customizable bot will not forget your wishes and adapt to your habits and needs.

Pitfalls when implementing chatbots

At first glance, it may seem that conversational user interfaces are pretty simple and do not require deep development, but they are not. Poorly built scripts, query recognition, and lack of prompts only annoy users.

The key focus should be laid on user experience. Making a bot user-friendly is a non-standard task. The bot should be helpful and easy to use: build the scripts implemented in it based on the target audience’s needs, use the button conversational UI, and pay attention to the sequence of steps in the bot scripts – they should not be long and complicated.

AI Chatbots require fine configuration. Artificial intelligence can recognize the user’s request, but it won’t do it without detailed customization. Its primary task in bots is to transform text messages into a finite set of events, which is only possible thanks to an extensive knowledge base. Otherwise, artificial intelligence will not be able to recognize requests, and users will get a negative experience from working with the bot.

Automatic processing of requests is better than operators. The user does not want to wait for the operator’s response, so the chatbot should be as functional as possible here and now. Thus, the main task of developers is to integrate a chatbot with various information systems to automate requests, which allows you to get the necessary information in a matter of seconds.

Useful tips

When you have decided to go for the conversational UI, chatbots are a great idea to turn to. Before implementing a bot, it is important to consider some nuances.

Determine the goals of your chatbot

It’s easy to get carried away with a new technological solution. Yes, chatbots are great, but you should always put your customers and their needs first. Even the best chatbots are just tools designed to solve problems, they are not an end goal. You should define clear goals and objectives where chatbots can help you. Don’t focus on the user interface — focus on the users.

If you have an online clothing store, don’t try to get your chatbots to have a witty conversation about the latest fashion trends. Chatbots cannot improvise and assist unless you give them specific, simple tasks. Keep your messages targeted!

Don’t overload users

Chatbot messages should be short. It is tempting to provide detailed answers that exhaust the topic and satisfy even the most curious customer, but reading long notes is the opposite of conversation.

Chatbots can be immersive because their informal communication is based on alternating, getting new messages, and moving forward in a conversation. If the user suddenly stumbles upon a wall of text, they stop the conversation, throwing things off balance.

Combine different message types

Communication is a two-way process. Remember that human-machine communication can be difficult. If you decide to use NLP (Natural Language Processing) in your design, chatbots need to know what information they receive.

When people learn about their spelling and try to change their natural language so that chatbots can understand it, it can quickly get out of hand and become a disaster. Instead of being intuitive and transparent, the user interface becomes an obstacle. Make it easier for yourself by providing hints and follow-up questions.

Use persuasive design techniques. Provide multiple choice buttons and add chatbot cards. Everything you do should be user-centric. Don’t encourage your customers to write when it might be easier for them to choose one of the predefined answers offered by the chatbot.

Encourage or soothe

Sometimes the customers may need a little push in the right direction. The chatbot can encourage them to take action or reassure them that taking a specific action will not lead to negative consequences. It’s a good idea to let them know if there’s anything they can take care of later or come back if they change their mind. When organizing the conversation, try to be encouraging and helpful, but do not patronize clients first.

People tend to identify with their interlocutors and adjust their attitudes and emotions accordingly. Bloggers often use WordPress chatbots to encourage reading and engage visitors with content. Keep the voice constant, but change the tone accordingly. Always respect your customers’ decisions and never make the conversation design manipulative or misleading.

Conversational UIs change brand experiences

Conversational design is much more than short-term hype. The underlying technologies are constantly improving and already enable applications of real added value for the user. While classic e-commerce or online customer service is reaching its limits, conversational experiences will penetrate other business areas.

The conversational interface is UX design stripped down to the bare essentials. We are talking about the words and the order of messages exchanged between two agents — the user and the computer. It is important to remember that conversational design is about the dynamics of this exchange and not just about individual messages per se.