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It is imperative that designers use a thoughtful approach to discern what an end user may require from their products. It will become more complex when designing a voice assistant or a chatbot through which human speech, either vocal or written, is the interface. The method should be no different for tech products. However, it can become more complex when designing a voice assistant or a chatbot through which human speech, either vocal or written, is the interface.
Conversational interfaces fall into two categories, those for which you type, commonly known as a chatbot, and those that you talk to, known as a voice assistant. For example, Mastercard has a chatbot that you can ask for directions to the nearest Subway sandwich shop and then order online, whereas Siri, on the Apple iPhone, allows you to interact verbally; for instance, by requesting a weather or travel update.
Here are Mentalstack top tips for developing high-performing conversational interfaces and chatbots.
1. Add a Touch of Empathy
The interaction between two humans is taken for granted as routine, yet if you listen and observe carefully, you can quickly see how complex they actually are. People express themselves in a myriad of different ways, speech itself may vary, and there may be a degree of social or cultural norms or even awkwardness. Adding empathy to an AI application can replicate the same experience, as humans often express empathy through the use of language. As such, if you want to take your app to the next level, you should design it such that it can mimic the use of empathy.
Want to a positive experience for your users?
Our collaborative approach will address the direct needs of your end users through a well-designed product. This should necessarily include a touch of empathy in your chatbot AI to mimic real human conversation. To achieve this, consider the following.
For a positive AI chatbot experience, try to ensure that the context of the question, request or statement is understood. For example, if you were to state “I am depressed,” Cortana will reply, “I hate to hear that.” This does not serve many purposes, and it offers no practical measures to assist with your situation.
It would be quite easy for the AI to target specific words such as “depressed” or “chest pain” and offer contact details or directions to the nearest medical facility or practitioner.
The script should be kept conversational and interactive:
- In real human interactions, conversations take the form of a dialogue that allows both participants to engage rather than a statement read in prose, which is more likely to be quickly met with disinterest.
- To keep your user interface conversation engaging, therefore, it must speak in a way that would be natural between yourself and another person. It is important to keep this in mind when writing the script.
How does one achieve this? Try a role play. Reading your script out loud. How does it actually sound? Is this the way in which you would talk to someone you know? Does it seem stilted or natural? You will soon know when you are on the right track. A quick and easy addition here is to ensure that your bot introduces itself to the user at the very beginning of the interaction. This can help to get the interaction off to a good start while setting appropriate expectations for the user as to what the capabilities and limitations are.
2. Make it visual
Studies have demonstrated that humans engage more with visual content; for, example adding charts into a business presentation assists in making specific points. So, make sure to add visual cues into your bot program when you need to emphasize something specific.
This can be especially useful when you need to elicit a certain response from a user. You can integrate visuals in your conversations in a number of ways:
To trigger emotions
Usually, we use images to convey certain feelings and emotions that enhance the written word. Using a smiling emoji in a welcome message, for example, is likely to begin a conversation with a positive, warmer tone than using words alone.
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To offer help
Visual cues can also intuitively provide assistance to a user. For instance, the door to a WC in a restaurant will often feature a sign that indicates whether it is the gents or the ladies. This logic allows training your conversational interface to offer assistance when there is an opportunity, presenting a map, for example, when directions requested.
The Whole Foods Market chatbot illustrates how effective and simple this can be. The user selects an icon, such as a pumpkin, and the chatbot will respond with a recipe from the database. Check how to create a jaw-dropping UX for ease of use here.
3. Prepare for all possible use cases
A feature that is common to good chatbots and conversational interfaces concerns how many scenarios (or use cases) the script covers. Use mind-mapping techniques together with your team to map out comprehensive decision trees that cover all possible scenarios and how each one can be dealt with.
If these scenarios have gaps, the experience can quickly turn frustrating for the user as the interface continually responds that it is unable to understand or requests further clarifications. This will result in an increased risk of losing a valuable user. Make sure there are no dead ends in your script, and a good script will, in fact, help to create different scenarios within the conversation.
4. Aim for Convenience
Bear in mind that a conversational interface brings convenience to your customers. The Amazon Echo, for example, allows a customer to order items and receive them without ever stepping foot outside the house, nevermind going to a physical store. Here is how you can offer the same:
Be clear and specific
While a conversational interface is designed to mimic human interactions, there are obvious limitations, such as the inability for a user to interrupt when clarification is needed as a customer would do with a support representative.
With this in mind, and to void possible confusion, your interactions should be straightforward and clear. A handy rule of thumb is that a response should never contain messages that are unrelated to the user request. For example, when making a restaurant reservation, the interface should only request related responses, such as a table for two, etc.
Keep user input to a minimum
UIs should simplify choices for the user, not add to their burden
In a similar vein, the UI should make limit choices to keep things simple. It is best not to offer multiple options when a simple “yes” or “no” will achieve the desired outcome. The less interaction, the more convenient and helpful the experience is likely to be.
Conversational interfaces, both chatbots and voice assistants, have brought with them a new type of interface. If developers hope to create conversational interfaces that offer truly intuitive AI experiences, they must think out of the box. Ideas include the following:
Both voice-activated bots and chatbots have introduced a new interface for our interactions with technology applications. To make these interactions both positive and useful experiences, it is important that designers think differently about to how to offer the most intuitive user experience by:
- Using natural language while empathizing with users.
- Triggering positive emotional responses through the use of visual cues and offering help when needed.
- Preparing for as many scenarios and outcomes as possible.
- Aiming to keep user input simple and to a minimum, so the experience is convenient.
If you found it interesting to read about the development of artificial intelligence and what the future holds for this fast-moving area, then find out about the latest innovations in augmented reality and how conversational interfaces are set to become a key component in software development.
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Chatbots, Conversation Interfaces, Design