Conversational UI: The Future of Digital Interaction

Elliott Gibb

Thanks to the conversational user experience many businesses worked hard to provide, chatting with digital entities feels smoother than ever!

Conversational UI isn’t exactly new, but with the newly found interest the world has in AI and machine learning, it’s beneficial to revise a related concept that, similarly to AI, strives to add a more personal, human touch to the digital wonderland.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  • What is a conversational UI, and what types of it are there on the market;
  • What are the benefits of creating a conversational user experience;
  • The best use cases for conversational UI;
  • What challenges does implementing conversational UI bring — and what are easy ways to skip over them.

What Is Conversational UI?

A conversational user interface (CUI) is a type of UI that mimics human conversation. 

Users can ask for assistance or seek information in voice or textual form with a (preferably) simple language input. A conversational UI comes in two essential forms:

  • Chatbots — Built-in textual chatbots occupy the bottom-right corner of many websites, usually to greet website visitors, offer customer support, or provide an outlet where visitors can ask questions, file complaints, or demand to speak to a real human (if chatbots aren’t their thing, or don’t seem to be working the way they want). This extends to messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Viber and enhances their capabilities.
  • Voice Assistants — Google Assistant is built into the world’s most popular search engine; with voice commands, you can look information up, entertain, play music, set reminders, and perform a variety of other tasks. Siri, Echo, Alexa, and Google Home are similar but more advanced alternatives. Some can, for example, connect to smart home appliances.

The Benefits of Using a Conversational UI

The conversational UI reshaped how tech interacts with people into something faster, friendlier, and more convenient.

These are some of the many benefits that will inspire you to start looking for a way to implement conversational UI:

  • Short response time — The main benefit! UI works all shifts with equal vigour, 24/7. Users can always count on chatbots and voice assistants for real-time response: time zones, weekends, and holidays are out of the equation. 
  • Task automation — Conversational UIs can comfortably handle simple inquiries that would otherwise occupy your staff’s working hours. Chatbots are a perfect example of customer service automation, leaving plenty of time for reps to handle more complex tasks that require human touch and intervention (customer relationship, for example).
  • Ease of use and accessibility — No matter its form or purpose, a conversational UI is built to be as convenient as possible for the user profile. Eyesight and hand coordination issues can easily be overcome with a voice assistant; on a lighter note, we know plenty of introverts who would rather skip that phone call and use a chatbot instead. 
  • Cost-effectiveness — With plenty of tasks delegated to powerful tools that provide a pleasant conversational UX, you can cut back on customer service spending and redirect the money where it’s needed. 
  • Personalization — With recent developments in AI and machine learning, conversations get more personal than ever. Platforms are better equipped to collect and analyse user data, preferences, and action history, providing better output in return. This is best seen in E-commerce and hyper-personalized product recommendations.

Applications and Use Cases for Conversational UI

Conversational UI wears many hats and has found its way to an impressive number of industries. 

The top 3 most notable uses of conversational UI are found in:

  1. Customer Support — It is safe to say that conversational UI revolutionised customer support departments to the delight of both CS representatives and customers. All the benefits we mentioned above reflect directly on the customer support operations: automating simple requests, cutting down costs, and keeping the customers happy with lightning-fast and accurate responses. 
  2. Online shopping — E-commerce greatly benefits from building a conversational UI. Online shops use chatbots that play a similar part to the one a shop assistant has in a brick-and-mortar store: shipping, sizing, product info, and more are available in a matter of seconds, which improves the shopping experience and creates a loyal client base. On the other hand, personalised recommendations increase the purchase value by providing meaningful and practical suggestions for shoppers.
  3. Personal Assistants — Taking time to type things down isn’t always an option, let alone writing when on the go. Advanced personal assistants recognise voice input and can respond in a humanised manner — and the more you use them, the better you train them to respond to your needs and recognise your habits. Users can pre-program, jot down, and complete the tasks faster and easier. 

The Challenges of Implementing a Conversational UI

Although a conversational UX and user interface built around it may seem like a magic bullet, they come with many challenges. 

Before you decide to invest in a conversational UI, consider all the challenges that may arise with development and maintenance; in a nutshell, they all boil down to these:

  • It may be expensive to develop your own — Having a unique client base will require advanced, complex engineering to develop a conversational UX across platforms. That doesn’t come without a hefty price, so it’s reserved for well-funded organisations and startups who got especially lucky. 
  • Failing user expectations — Users who aren’t tech-savvy don’t always know what they should expect from a chatbot and what to save for actual human support. For tools that rely on voice commands, issues multiply: user experience may be harmed by UI not understanding dialects, pronunciations, or tasks.

However, this doesn’t mean you should give up on providing conversational UX.

Not all conversational UIs are built the same; among them, Mercu has a wonderfully simple one that doesn’t break the bank or let the users down. 😎

You don’t need to build anything. Mercu uses chat apps like WhatsApp to build an engaging platform that can be used during the whole employee lifecycle: to hire, train, onboard, and engage employees. As for the customers, you get to shape their experience the way you see fit and delight them with personalised messaging that matters to them.

Mercu is built with frontline staff in mind (and ❤️) - explore the many possibilities it offers!

Your workforce is mobile. Your tools should be too.

In a sea of existing tools that aren’t built to solve your deskless workforce problems, Mercu is the exception. Automate enablement with a chat-based platform that gets results.