User Interface (UI) has gained a lot of traction recently, with companies looking forward to providing a better customer experience. A poorly designed interface is not only a hindrance to the smooth use of the software, but it is also a deterrent for customers to revisit it.
Hence in the journey of UI evolution, we have come a long way from traditional drop-down lists, buttons, carousels, etc. to a new era of UI and interaction with computers consisting of not only visual interactions but conversations as well.
We see many chatbots built every week. We can’t ignore the growing importance and influence of conversational UI (CUI). Conversational UI can be described as an interaction with computers on human terms.
Earlier, interactions with computers were based on pre-fed or pre-programmed syntax. Today, these interactions are becoming more and more human-like.
The best examples of conversational UI are chatbots and voice assistants. Popular examples are Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. Using NLP, conversational UI technologies not only strive to understand what humans are saying but also try to understand the context and intent of the sentence.
Chatbots serve businesses in the sense that they can work as stand-alone interfaces to handle requests. The requests that were a phone call or a web-search away yesterday, are just a chatbot away today.
The entire point of CUI is that users should be able to express themselves in the most natural way possible. Conversational UI aims to make it simpler for humans to interact with computers and get work done faster.
We can surely say that conversational UI is the future of human-computer interactions.
If you are planning to create a chatbot or voice assistant using CUI, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Some of the best practices which will help make your application more effective and user-friendly include:
While most people are used to navigating a website to find what they need, they might not be used to having a bot assist them in the process. When you ask an open-ended question such as “hi, how may I assist you today?”, it is possible to overwhelm your users.
In such cases, it is a good practice to guide your users by giving them probable options about how the bot can help them.
Here you can use lists and buttons to simplify the user’s interactions with your bot.
No one likes a dull and monotonous conversation. To make your bot more lively and human-like, it would be good to give the bot some personality and some level of emotion.
You should make sure that the bot has a personality in-line with your brand, i.e., it should be consistent with what your brand is about.
Advances in NLP have made it possible for computers to understand natural language better. With AI, it is now possible to make the bots/assistants sound as human and natural as possible.
But how can you make your bot have a personality? Some things you can put in place for this purpose are as follows:
- Make your bot use polite and friendly language so that clients are able to relate to your bot.
- Try to make your bot respond with emotion to build a connection.
- Repeat inputs for confirmation; this will help build trust.
- Identify negative sentiments and ask for feedback on how the issue could be addressed.
The background of your application should not distract the user from the conversation. Thus, it is best to keep your application clean and minimalistic.
A simple and light background that doesn’t attract too much attention, is okay to make your application aesthetically pleasing. Use soothing colors for the text and the background.
Your bot or assistant should always have entry and exit points to mark the start and end of a conversation.
These checkpoints are important to be able to reroute our bot or assistant. This might be required, in case the conversation isn’t going in the correct direction, or the bot/assistant doesn’t understand what you are saying.
It is also essential to provide the user with an option to restart the conversation. For example, giving them the chance to start over and change the direction of the conversation.
While deciding the voice for your assistant, you should choose the personality that reflects your brand the best. Giving your assistant a name would add a nice human touch as users would get the feeling of interacting with an actual person.
There are various things you should consider while selecting a voice for your voice assistant, such as:
- Target audience
- What issues your assistant addresses.
- Social context of your assistant.
- The personality of the assistant.
- What brand the assistant represents.
It is necessary that your bot/assistant understands commands, as that is the basis of the entire application. In case your bot doesn’t understand the commands, it should convey the same to the user by either displaying the message or saying, “Sorry, I do not understand.”
Before the assistant concludes that the command is incomprehensible to it, it should check whether:
- Check if there was a typo in the command.
- Check if the unknown command is like any known command.
It is necessary to select the correct words for commands. Be precise and clear while selecting your commands. Words with similar meanings for different commands might confuse the user and lead to uncertain responses from the bot/assistant.
Unpredictable or unexpected conversations are challenging for bots and assistants. For example, if the bot asks a yes or no question and the user answers with another question, this might throw the bot off track.
Bots/assistants need to make sure that the users are focused on the conversation, and the actions are understood and completed.
We have come a long way from interacting with humans to interacting with computers, and CUI is a major reason for it. Not only does it help reduce wait times and provide a quicker solution/answer, but it also can handle many requests at the same time.
There is no dearth of how many requests can be handled, based on the scalability of the CUI. We know it is the future, and it is here already; time to embrace it with open arms.
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