So, your company wants to use conversational UI–fantastic! You’ve come to the right place. If I were any major organization, I would want to use it too. However, there are a few things any company should know before getting started.
First, let’s define conversational UI: It is a chatbot experience that processes language in a natural way, as if you are texting or speaking with another human being. In short, both chatbots and voice assistants fall within the conversational UI category, and organizations should consider both mediums when seeking to simplify their customer experience and create lasting value and trust.
Over the past few years, the conversational UI market has been booming, seeing massive year-over-year adoption and usage rate increases between 2017 and 2019. In fact, smart speakers saw a 39.8% growth in installations between 2017 and 2018, according to the Voicebot Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report (47.3 million to 66.4 million installations). And, many organizations are responding; according to Gartner, 25% of customer service operations will be using virtual assistants by 2020, and 50% of large, consumer-centric enterprises will be using conversational UI by 2020.
But just as things are getting exciting, we are starting to face a critical challenge that has an interesting name: The Trough of Disillusionment. The Trough of Disillusionment is a term from Gartner’s Hype Cycle (a diagram that maps excitement for various emerging technologies across time) that describes the waning interest in a technology breakthrough as instances of the technology fail to deliver on company and consumer expectations. Simply put, when a technology breakthrough is reached, expectations for that technology often grow beyond what the technology can actually deliver. When audiences realize this, they become less likely to use the product.
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Conversational UI (such as the virtual assistants marked in the Hype Cycle above) is at the precipice of the Trough of Disillusionment because of inflated expectations around AI-powered chatbots and voice assistants. Consumers and companies alike believe these assistants can and will be able to solve problems across the customer experience, but unfortunately we are not there yet. So, how can your organization circumvent the Trough of Disillusionment and deliver a valuable conversational UI experience your customers will love? Here are the three steps you need in order to set your company up for success:
No. 1: Focus on a specific set of problems or skills.
We’ve all seen it too many times–organizations look at conversational UI as a full-service solution to solve all of their customers’ issues, and they become burdened and overwhelmed at the prospect of creating, delivering and maintaining such an expansive tool. Outside of resource challenges, a chatbot or voice interface without a focused set of skills will inflate user expectations and ultimately let down your customers. We must come to grips that voice and chat will not solve everything for everyone, but it can be powerful tools in solving specific challenges along your customer journey, such as handling online enrollment, or triaging customer support questions.
No. 2: Identify where conversational UI should come into play in the customer journey.
Once you have determined a set of problems or skills you are looking to address for your audience, it’s time to figure out what stage in the customer journey in which this belongs (And hopefully you have identified at least one or several customer journeys for your organization. If not, we can help!). Determining where your conversational UI experience lives during your customer journey will help your organization answer some meaningful questions:
This last question is critical. As you place your conversational UI idea on your customer journey map, you will inevitably have to…
No. 3: Pick your medium.
Media expert and philosopher Marshall McLehen, who famously conceptualized and predicted the rise of the internet 30 years before its inception, coined a critical phrase that you must consider when building a conversational UI experience: “The medium is the message.” In layman terms, how you present information effects how that information is perceived, and conversational UI can be presented in a multitude of different ways.
Consider these two factors when determining how your conversational UI will be presented:
If you successfully analyze and work through these three steps, you will be well on your way to creating a conversational UI tool that enhances your customer experience and builds value and trust with your consumers.
—Jordan Magenta, digital strategist, Rightpoint