Everything You Need to Know about Designing Conversational Interfaces

To strengthen customer relationships, many businesses are adopting hyper-personalisation. They are reinventing interactions with customers, trying to humanise their online presence, and deliver customised user experiences at every touchpoint.

With the rise of AI, one of the most effective ways to personalise user experiences is to design conversational interfaces.

What are Conversational Interfaces?

A conversational user interface is an AI-powered platform that mimics conversations with humans.

Using CI, searchers do not need to click through your website to seek information. Similar to real-life human interactions, they will simply tell the device what they are looking for.

Conversational interfaces are supported by Natural Language Processing (NLP), a form of AI that can interpret conversational language and understand the intent behind it. That way, it ensures seamless and more natural interactions between visitors and chatbots.

Types of Conversational Interfaces

There are two types of conversational interfaces – chatbots and voice assistants.

Tech-savvy customers expect brands to be available 24/7 and provide instant feedback. With the help of chatbots, you will be available to customers in real-time, irrespective of their location. Now, there are two types of chatbots for you – AI bot and rule-based bots.

• AI Chatbots
While traditional chatbots understand simple predefined commands and, based on them, provide users with one-size-fits-all feedback, AI-driven bots make interactions more natural. They use NLP to understand the search intent behind keywords. That way, they can generate more natural answers, based on the context of the query.

AI bots may benefit you in multiple ways. They can be programmed to understand various languages, which is perfect for brands targeting international audiences. AI bots are continuously learning from the data they collect to understand user behaviours and provide better insights.

• Rule-based bots
Rule-based chatbots, or decision-tree bots, use a series of defined rules. In other words, they map out each conversation with customers and can provide answers to predefined questions solely.

That makes rule-based bots less flexible than their AI-driven counterparts. However, they are easier to predict, as well as more cost-effective.

Voice Assistants
A voice assistant is an AI-driven service that uses natural language processing, speech synthesis, and voice recognition to provide customer service. They are also a form of bots, but they do not use any graphical interface. They are created for voice commands only. The implementation of voice assistants is often complicated and expensive. That is why most companies invest in chatbots. Actionable Tips on Creating Conversational Interfaces

Conversational interfaces should be simple, logical, and minimalistic. Therefore, you do not need to worry a lot about their visual appeal. What you should focus on is the conversational flow.

Give your bot a purpose
Always set clear objectives. Sit down with your team to discuss your customers’ needs and the problems the bot should solve. How will it benefit your audiences? Only that way will you be able to keep the conversation helpful and user-oriented.

For example, if you are a skincare brand, do not expect your bot to discuss the latest industry trends. No matter how smart they are, bots cannot improvise well. Instead, it should assist your visitors and convert them into leads.

Create a consistent bot personality
Your chatbot should be witty, intelligent, compassionate, and memorable. Most importantly, it should reflect your brand’s personality and tone of voice. Create a detailed brand style guide that will dictate your brand’s tone of voice and ensure it is used consistently across all channels.

Provide exit options
At some point, a customer may want to stop chatting with the bot. Always give them the opportunity to exit the chatbot conversation and point them to other customer support channels.

To manage multi-channel customer service channels, consider investing in a reliable CRM system. For example, Nextiva offers a CRM solution that lets you centralise your chatbots, live chat, email, and call center. That way, you will be able to route customer support tickets to the right agents and respond to multi-channel customer inquiries from one place.

Never lie to customers
Stats say that two out of three users do not know they are chatting with a bot. When combining live chat agents with chatbots, always inform a user who they are talking to. Transparency builds trust with customers and encourages conversions.

Do not overwhelm users
Chatbot messages need to be concise and to the point. While it may be tempting to provide exhaustive answers to customer questions, that is not what your customers expect. Instead of reading blocks of text, they want you to offer quick fixes to their problems.

Animate the conversation
When we meet someone, we usually greet them with a handshake. This activity allows us to look in a person’s eyes and understand their emotions while speaking.

To make the conversation with your bot more natural, consider animating it. Create an avatar to humanise your bot and strengthen relationships with users. You could also add mimics to your bot, such as blinking or winking.

Also, add typing indicators that imitate the conversation flow.

Finally, use emojis, memes, or GIFs to express non-verbal emotions and engage users.

Arrange messages properly
The way avatars and messages will be arranged also varies. For example, users and bots’ avatars could be either aligned one under another or opposite one to another. The latter option feels more natural, as it impersonates the conversation between two people that look at each other. It is also easier to follow.

CI is all about the Flow
To create seamless user experiences, you first need to understand what is involved in conversational interfaces. The design should be simple to support the flow of the conversation. The ultimate goal of conversational interfaces is to reflect the dynamics of real-life interactions, humanise your brand, and build stronger relationships with customers.

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