Conversational experience (CUX) has been catching the attention of marketers for some time now.
The immense interest can be partly attributed to the growing pressure of the experience economy which has shown that, to the modern consumer, the experience is often more important than price.
And so, online businesses are forced to review and rethink the way customers experience their brand from the first to last contact. I suppose that if you are reading this article, you are one or represent one of those businesses.
Therefore, in this post, I will explain what is conversational experience, benefits you can gain from implementing it as well as CUX best practices you should follow.
What Is a Conversational Experience?
Conversational User Experience (CUX) is an experience composed of either chat or voice-based human-computer interaction that mimics human conversation.
At its core, conversational experience is all about giving technology a more human face that is less polished and promotional; Instead, it feels more personal and enables responding in real time. As said, the exchange can be voice-based (Alexa, Siri, OK Google) or text-based (any chatbot assistant).
Understanding and/or guiding customer intent within the conversational UX can be enabled by artificial intelligence (e.g., natural language processing chatbot) or choose-your-own-adventure conversational user interface.
To put it plainly, traditional static interfaces present information to potential customers via written copy, graphics, and maybe even a video or two. And while this kind of content can certainly be helpful, it’s ultimately a one-sided transfer of information. Visitors can’t ask for immediate clarification, and they can’t offer any of their own input in order to get the details they need.
Conversational experience, on one hand, allows users to control what information and in what order they receive. On the other hand, it enables you to supply users with details on a plethora of topics without cluttering the interface with an unsupportable and confusing amount of content.
Strategic Benefits of Conversational Experience
Conversational experience can turn the process of learning about your company from a monotonous task into a fun and engaging conversation.
And if you’re not yet sure this is the right approach for your business, consider the following six benefits you can gain by integrating conversational elements into your site.
1. Tailor the User Experience to Each Visitor
Most companies offer the same exact browsing experience to every visitor who lands on their website. And while most people have come to expect this from business sites, it’s not particularly in line with a growing demand for surprising, personalized experiences.
Conversational chatbots can change this. Right from the start, for example, a bot can greet a visitor and ask for their name.
Once the bot has this information, they can refer to the visitor by name throughout the course of their interaction.
Plus, if the visitor leaves without converting but later returns, your bot can “remember” them and begin their next interaction off with a personalized greeting. This makes for a more welcoming feel right from the start.You can use this same approach for other details (e.g., product preferences) a visitor provides as well.
But beyond that, a chatbot can tailor the user experience by using a visitor’s input to shape the information it delivers. Based on the input and preferences that visitor enters, it can offer a customized path through your site.
For example, your bot might point visitors in the right direction by asking what they want to accomplish on your site, then giving a few basic options to choose from.
In this example, the bot can either give the visitor more information about a specific product, tell the company brand story, or jump straight to a registration process.
This way, it isn’t just directing every user to the same content or page. Instead, it customizes the browsing experience to their interests and needs.
2. Higher Engagement through Natural Conversation
Almost every business website in existence is designed with the goal of generating some kind of conversion. This means it’s in your best interest to make the process of converting as simple and engaging as possible.
Unfortunately, the standard contact forms on many websites aren’t exactly fun for prospective customers and leads.
By using chatbots to collect information, you can turn the usually tedious process into something memorable.Start things off with a greeting. Create an emotional connection with the user… only then proceed to ask the visitor a series of questions to get the details you need.
This makes for a much more enjoyable, user-friendly conversion process.In a matter of a few minutes and a handful of quick exchanges, your visitors can become leads for your business — without a single boring form in sight.
3. Streamlined Browsing Experience
You’ve likely heard that consumer attention spans are dwindling.So, if you want your visitors to find all of the information they need to come to the conclusion that you’re the right choice for their needs, your goal should be to create a frictionless customer experience.
This means removing any and all obstacles that complicate the browsing process or stand in the way of a visitor making a conversion.And in many cases, the most damaging “obstacles” on your site are simply distractions.
Of course, it’s in your best interest to provide content and resources for the entire customer journey map. But when the end result is a lengthy, complex navigational menu, it can quickly complicate the browsing process.When you give your visitors too many options to choose from, you lower their capacity to convert.
But with a conversational approach, you can help your visitors get right to the information they’re looking for simply by asking them what is it they want.
Design and build a chatbot that encourages people to indicate what they need to hear to satisfy their curiosity without wasting their time.
For example, if a visitor on our website indicates that they’re interested in our lead management features, the bot automatically and effortlessly provides more detail.
This way, the visitor doesn’t have to spend time navigating through pages and pages of content to get to the feature they’re interested in.Instead, they can get that information within seconds — and get to the decision-making step much more efficiently.
4. Address Common Questions and Concerns in Real Time
Many of your site visitors likely have the same handful of questions and concerns about your products, services, and company.
Most brands address these topics on a standard FAQ page. These can certainly be helpful resources! That is only if the visitor is able to find that page and willing to spend time scrolling or sorting through other information that isn’t relevant to their question.
Chatbots can simplify this process by turning the search for answers into a conversation - an interactive FAQ.For example, if a site visitor has a question, you might begin by giving them a list of topics customers ask about most often:
From there, you can either provide information relevant to that topic or offer another menu with more specific topics or questions.
5. Assist Your Customers More Efficiently
All of the benefits we’ve covered so far approach conversational UX from the perspective of the customer.
But integrating conversational experiences into your website can also be beneficial to your support and sales teams.
That’s because many of the tasks your chatbot can handle, like answering basic questions and helping potential customers find the information and content they need, would otherwise likely fall to these employees.
When a bot is responsible for these interactions, this frees up your human team to focus on more complex, impactful work.
Furthermore, this can not only improve their efficiency but improve the chances that they’ll be available to assist new leads as your chatbot earns them.
Plus, given that most chatbots built within conversational interfaces allow for human takeover, your bots don’t have to be perfect in order to help your team.
Contrary to popular belief, website chatbots aren’t intended to replace human employees. In fact, they’re often most effective when used as a supplementary tool for sales and support needs.
This way, when a bot recognizes that a user’s needs are out of the scope of its programming (or a user recognizes that the bot isn’t equipped to give the help they need), someone from your team can be notified.
Essentially, you can use your bot to eliminate certain tasks from your employees’ workload. Instead, pass along only the more challenging ones, when human assistance is truly necessary.
6. Improved Customer Service & Satisfaction
Finally, one of the biggest advantages of creating conversational experiences for your site visitors is improved customer satisfaction.
That’s because making it easier for visitors to find the information they need in a more personalized manner, you streamline the entire experience.And this can have a significant impact on customers’ perception of your brand.
One study at the Gdansk University of Technology found that a website’s visual clarity, ease of use, user guidance, informational content, interactivity, personalization, service demonstration, recommendations, and customer care all contribute directly to a visitor’s levels of satisfaction and trust.
This satisfaction and trust, in turn, contributes to increased customer loyalty over time.
So as you make your site easier and more enjoyable to use, you’re simultaneously earning happier customers.
Loyal, long-term customers aren’t always easy to earn. So, saving customer time and giving them the experience to remember increases the chances that they’ll stick with you for life.
Which Conversational UX Channel is the Best?
You can introduce conversational experience:
- on your website;
- your website/landing page can be the conversational experience;
- as a popup;
- in the form of a live chat bubble;
- within a messaging app such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp;
However, as is usually the case with strategies, none of the above can be considered the single best conversational channel. It all depends on your product as well as your customer base and their preferences.
Being able to integrate conversational user experience on every channel would be great. Yet, it’s not always the most practical solution. You need to keep in mind that not only does it need to be easy for your customer to contact you, it also needs to be easy for you to maintain, update and manage. So resources and the learning curve of whatever system you decide to use play a key role.
The good news is that today, there are many flexible conversational chatbot builders. The good ones make tasks such as creating a chatbot; integrating your systems; optimizing conversations; running conversation analysis and introducing updates fairly frictionless.
What to Watch Out for with Conversational UX Design?
Demand for conversational user experiences gave rise to a new form of design - conversational design.What is so hard about writing down a conversation, you ask?
Well, you would be surprised!
First of all, the conversational design is a challenge because the rules of human-to-human conversation are mostly subconscious and vastly vague. Conversational design is not always grammatically correct and not always to the point.
For instance, for a dialogue to feel natural, you need to select the right dialect/language as well as include an appropriate amount of small talk. Plus, you can’t just think about what the chatbot has to say! No... you also need to consider all the possible (natural) ways a user could answer.
In fact, the biggest mistake most conversational first-timers commit is using static language. They use a chat format but keep "Send" "Submit" "Type bellow" instead of writing an actual conversation. Here is a simple example:Wrong: Hi! Write your name below: Correct: Hi! What’s your name?
Conversational UX: Best Practices
Conversational UX is based around the user being in control of the conversation. So, besides the right conversational language, the system should be designed with that in mind.
Some of the best practices are:
- Including “BACK” or “SKIP” buttons.
- Proving a straightforward path to completion meaning user should be aware of what the bot can actually do. There should be no confusion about what can be accomplished through the conversational experience. E.g., is does the bot let you take a quiz, receive customer support/FAQ, obtaining gated content, product info… etc.?
- Not overbearing the user with too much cognitive information. So, no long texts or too many questions at once. Such things prevent the aforementioned “clear path to completion”
- Simplifying and Speeding up the conversation using field labels or suggested answers/defaults.
- Option to double check and modify submitted information before the conversation ends.
Today’s consumers expect the companies to make their journey as simple and straightforward as possible.
Creating a conversational UX is the best way to meet this expectation. Plus, you get to make browsing your site more fun and engaging than ever.
So although conversational user experiences are a relatively new concept for most brands, they hold many benefits for those that choose to create them — and we don’t expect them to go away anytime soon.