Forget about chatbots and discover conversational apps, the next step in bot evolution.
When the hype around chatbot rode in on a tall wave of expectations a few years back, many were hopeful for a revolution. However, because of the complexity of human language and conversational design (a field still non-existent back then), that wave crashed on the rocks built of obstacles and failures.
What made the most glorified hype in digital history fall on its face so badly?
Firstly, the enthusiasm couldn’t make up for humanity's lack of experience in artificial intelligence, natural language processing bots, and creating conversational user experiences where the focus was the conversational design rather than the technology behind it. Secondly, the world of chatbot and virtual assistants - due to the cost and time required to build them - remained exclusive to the larger corporations.
Although the hype hasn't lived up to our anticipations and lost public interest, there were some who never gave up the pursuit. Inventors and entrepreneurs kept on inventing which not only brought us a deeper understanding of NLP and its design but also a surge in low-code and no-code platforms created to streamline chatbot development. Thanks to tools like these, chatbots became accessible to SMBs as well as individuals from a variety of backgrounds, opening a space for innovation.
Little by little, besides the quality of the conversation, the emphasis was also placed on the design of the conversational interfaces. This led to the birth of a new type of conversational medium - conversational apps.
What Are Conversational Apps?
Conversational apps are a combination of visual elements and text-based messaging (or voice-driven conversations). They leverage the instantaneous and personal conversational nature of text-based interfaces and balance it out with graphic elements we are used to seeing on websites and in apps. In other words, the bot-user conversation is enriched by buttons, carrousels, attachments, videos, mini forms, and other embedded elements that allow you to pick a date or complete a transaction without exiting the conversation.Another important aspect of conversational apps is their omnichannel flexibility. They must be able to take place on any messaging channels be it the web, your app, or a third-party messaging platform like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
Using the combination of text-based conversation and rich graphic elements, they reshape how businesses, big and small, communicate with their customers. Unlike purely text-based chatbots, conversational apps offer structure, manage expectations, and the flow of the conversation for each and every user avoiding disappointment and confusion.
Why Are Conversational Apps Important?
Today, consumers demand more than ever. Not only do they expect instantaneous responses but also personalized engagement and attention across channels - before and after the purchase.
According to a 2019 study by LivePerson, 90% of consumers are more likely to do business with companies that answer inquiries immediately. Furthermore, 55% said they are more likely to do business with a company if they could message them. Hence, in this era of conversational marketing, being able to communicate with your clients wherever, whenever and in whatever way they want is crucial for business success.
Conversational apps can deliver both speed and personalization using the most popular and convenient interface - the messaging interface. Messaging, whether it takes place on the web or an app, is inherently personal, informal and instantaneous. Hence, by using conversational apps, brands can adopt a warm and friendly way of communication without sounding forced and out of place as well as provide a sense of immediacy.
Simply put, these apps can help you unlock a new level of customer service, one that is able to keep up with the growing expectations of your client base. You can provide customers with what they need without skyrocketing your labor costs and putting a strain on your resources, it’s a win-win.
Key Elements of Conversational Apps
As mentioned above, conversational apps combine text-based messaging with graphic elements. These graphic elements don’t exist just for the sake of visual appreciation, however. They speed up the time it takes to complete specific actions thus increasing the chances of the customer conversion.
What are some of the key graphic elements that make conversational apps so powerful?
Here a few that should definitely be on your radar!
Buttons are one of the most common graphic elements in conversational apps. They help structure the conversational UI and guide the user to specific options quicker - provided those options are limited enough to be covered by a button selection. Using buttons also saves time users would have to spend typing.
With buttons, you can go for the classic option featuring simple button text or emoji:
Or, combine button with an image for a more visually appealing experience:
Another popular element when building a conversational app is carrousel. Carousels are extremely versatile and showcase choices in the form of circulating images with text descriptions. They can be used in a number of ways but are particularly great for product promotion.
A multi-question block is, essentially, a customizable mini-form inside a conversation. It’s not all that common but it’s incredibly useful when it comes to data collection. No matter how natural messaging feels when submitting certain kinds of data, it’s better to have an overview like when signing up or booking an event.
In Landbot, the multi-question block allows you to add as many fields to your mini-form as you wish but also configure each field to the greatest detail. For instance, you can:
- Select the question type (e.g., email, date, time, color, checkbox, etc.)
- Define the label for the field
- Set the field as required (so, the bot won’t let the user continue unless they fill it in)
- Define advanced elements such as help text, column width, max/min number of characters, etc.)
After you configure each field (question) the form will appear in the conversation as follows:
Scale & Rating
Scale and rating elements are incredibly useful when you need your conversational app to collect customer feedback while allowing you to enjoy the structured form of a classic survey and making it easy and quick for the customers at the same time.
Example of the rating element inside the no-code conversational app builder:
And the front-end experience:
The calendar is an essential element in the conversational app toolbox as it makes bookings and reservations significantly easier. For instance, showing the calendar element helps you show which days are available without dragging on the conversation and ensures the user submits the date in a correct format:
Conversational interfaces are good at recommending and selling products since the process feels more personal and friendlier. Hence, allowing transactions to happen within the conversation plays a key role in increasing those already high chances of conversion. Conversational apps allow you to integrate payment right into the message exchange with the format that feels familiar and secure to the user:
Combining Live Chat and Automation
Good conversational automation doesn’t mean obliterating your human representatives entirely. On the contrary!
The best conversational solutions are those that manage to balance bot-human collaboration. The aim? To improve both customer and employee experience, increasing loyalty with the former, and satisfaction & productivity with the later.
According to the Helpshift 2019 report, the channel with the highest CSAT score was the messaging channel. BUT, when looked at all aspects overall, the most satisfactory experience was the one on which the bot and human agents collaborated - regardless of the channel - reaching CAST of 4.40 (on a 0-5 scale). That is a 1% higher average than tickets handled by humans only and 7% higher than the score of the best performing channel (messaging).
Conversational apps are extremely useful but they are not omnipotent. To make the most of their potential, you need to realize their limits and make sure to play on their strengths.
For example, if your app is not able to help the customer with a particular query, it can still assess the situation (urgency, the department responsible, etc.) and streamline the query to the right department, be it sales or customer support.
Hence, the key to success is to strengthen your conversational apps with a human takeover element that can handle bot-to-human handoff seamlessly and instantaneously.
How Can Conversational Apps Help your Business?
Since messaging is becoming one of the most demanded ways of communication, to stay competitive, it’s necessary to adopt a comprehensive conversational strategy. Conversational apps can help you carry positive experiences from the first touchpoint to the last by:
👉 Reducing Friction in the Customer Journey
Conversational apps simplify and reduce friction at every touchpoint from the discovery stage (e.g., by delivering curated information to the user instantaneously) to post-purchase (e.g., by making contacting support or submitting feedback quick and easy). Simply put, thanks to conversational automation, you are able to cut down the actions needed to complete certain goals and significantly lower customer waiting times.
Consumers are becoming less and less tolerant of delays and malfunctions. Having a 24/7 conversational assistant available on the web, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger will allow you to be there whenever and wherever your customers need you. Furthermore, real-time conversations open doors to building stronger and more authentic relationships!
👉 Personalizing Experiences
The greatest power of conversational apps, hidden to the naked eye of the end-user, is integrations.
Conversational applications can be easily linked to your CRM system, data analytics software, or NLP engines.
Thanks to these integrations, even a seemingly simple conversational solution is capable of delivering hyper-personalized experiences to users, remembering their personal detail, preferences, and purchase history. A well-integrated assistant doesn’t need to ask for the same information twice, removing a lot of friction from the process and creating a stronger sense of personal relationship. Better yet, they can forward the same user data to the agent overtaking the conversation ensuring the frictionless experience carries on.
👉 Allowing your Business to Scale
Last but not least, conversational apps enable you to scale exponentially by automating a large proportion of commonly asked questions as well as most of the frequent business processes.
For instance, the Helpshift report on the State of Customer Service Automation showed that while bots sent twice as many messages in peak months, the workload for agents stayed pretty much the same allowing them to maintain service quality and standard.
Hence, even in times of sudden growth, crisis, or seasonal peak times when most businesses tend to be overwhelmed, you are still able to provide the same level of quality service.
How Does Landbot Fit into the Era of Conversational Apps?
Landbot helps businesses - enterprise, medium, and small - as well as freelancers to improve business workflows, optimize conversions, and create more personal relationships with their customers, all without coding.
Landbot’s visual interface allows people who most understand their purposeto build a conversational app without coding. Marketers can easily create lead generation apps; customer support representatives can design FAQ support assists, sales teams can create powerful scoring conversational apps integrated with their CRM, etc. With us, you can build conversational apps for the web, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or any other messaging app via our API.
Are you ready to create conversational apps for your business?