If any web designer is asked to mention the most important thing to consider when designing an interface, you’re most likely going to hear them say simplicity. As straight-forward as the word “simplicity” sounds, it carries many other meanings under it when talking about a website interface. For an interface to be simple it should be intuitive for customers to use it, it’s accessible to users of a variety of impairments, and it doesn’t affect the website’s performance in any negative way.
The most challenging part of a designer’s work now is to get the simplicity of their design interface dialed in. This is why many website designers, whether freelancers and web design and development companies, are always on the look for innovative ways to make this a reality. This will ensure that the website can interact, in an indeed simple way, with users. This search has led to the development of a “conversational” user interface which has now emerged as a viable solution for many designers.
What is a Conversational User Interface?
A conversational user interface is an interface that users can converse with using plain language. The conversation can either be a text or voice conversation. The goal is to ensure a seamless experience and better understanding for users.
In reality, the conversational user interface is not a new innovation. However, in the last few years conversational UIs have gained a wider acceptance within the UI community, with many websites looking to have their interfaces be more conversational. Many businesses have come to rely on some sort of conversational method to educate, convert leads, and increase sales.
This article discusses some of the advantages and challenges of conversational user interfaces.
Challenges of Conversation Interface
With any technology that is still relatively new, so there are still some challenges to scale as conversational UI develops.
Meeting Users’ High Expectations
Many companies have asked too much from simple voice assistants and chatbots. Users may expect that voice assistants or chat bots can do much more than their simple logic systems allow. As conversations may appear to sound like a human is on the other end, the user may become unrealistic with their expectations and grow frustrated. While it seems unlikely that a human could be fooled by a simple chat bot, think about how many children these days have conversations with Alexa and Siri.
Unable to Handle Complex Processes
Conversational interfaces such as voice assistants and chatbots are only efficient for simple and limited queries as they can provide short answers. They are only effective when users already know what they need to ask from them and how they should ask. If users need multiple options or comparisons, then conversational interactions may suit their needs.
Although machine learning and natural language processing technology have existed for a while now, this technology is not human proof and is still very expensive. If you’re looking to build a natural language processing-based technology for the voice assistant, a software engineer’s fees can run up a budget between $50k and $100—or even more! On top of development costs, all such technologies still require human agents to train with these machines for up to 6 months, which will incur extra costs.
Advantages of Conversational Interface
With the challenges facing us out of the way, we can understand the specific advantages that conversational UI brings.
Reduces the Overall Cost for Customer Support
Chatbots can be very effective when they are used as the first line of contact in a customer support funnel. On average, chatbots and voice assistants can take care of many simple requests from users quickly and, in more challenging cases, they can redirect users to actual customer service representives. This can drastically cut down on customer support costs as many simple requests never have to reach a customer support staff member, lowering volume of inquiries and the staff needed to handle them. Having a smaller team makes it easier to train then and saves you more money.
Reduction in Response Time for Services
It’s essential to respond to customers and visitors as quickly as they make a customer support inquiry. This will ensure that they don’t get frustrated and leave without getting the help they need. So your response time has to be very quick. This is something that conversational interface, whether text-based or speech-based, can speed up.
Boost User Engagement and Retention
Both voice assistants and chatbots can replace numerous actions that users have had to currently do manually. using a brief Q&A format, they can gather and populate information instead of letting users go through a confusing list of forms that are required to fill out. AI bots process the answers based on built-in algorithms, acting on behalf of the user. This kind of convenience and ease of use boosts customer experience and engagement with your product and motivates them to continue to use your web product.
Increased Customer Base
Voice production and speech recognition abilities in conversational interfaces help create a different way for interaction between humans and computers to develop. This is especially of concern for people with sight disabilities as they have difficulties using keyboards and computer screens, which most of us take for granted. Increasing the way users interact with your brand and website means that you’ll also be increasing your customer base.
Conversational interfaces, when employed smartly, can be a real boon to an online business. While they can be beneficial in increasing the way people interact with websites, software, and brands, they also have disadvantages and challenges that must be understood. However, this shouldn’t stop you from going for them as their advantages may outweigh the challenges. If you’re interested in the opportunities that conversational interfaces can bring to your business, we’d love to hear from you.