The word chatbot is not only creating a buzz on the tech side of the industry but also amongst the UX designers. But what is the buzz all about? Back in 2011 everyone was talking about Responsive Design but now it is the conversational interface.
Essentially, a Conversational user interface is more human, uses Natural Language Processing (NLP), and mimics a real-world human conversation. The traditional interfaces are pretty similar, the difference being the instructions or conversations are in the form of buttons, menus, and other interaction patterns. Whereas there is not much of a difference in the conversational UI, you directly use words and emoji to talk to the machine.
The interactions of the future are not just made of buttons.
What is chatbot UX?
It's always important to remember that you are creating a chatbot design for human emotions. Talking to a robot is always monotonous and boring. This will not attract people, it will just create a bad experience. So ensure that the chatbots project a personality that the user would correlate most easily too. The emotion is your chatbot and your chatbot gives the user an experience.
This does not mean that I am contradicting what I just mentioned. It is important to give your bot a personality, but it is also important to ensure that the users know they are talking to bots and not to live agents. It makes for bad user experience when you make your customers feel that they don't understand the system. This means that just to make your bot look more human real you introduce artificial delays like - ”is typing...”
On the contrary, you should play with the styling of the bot messages and indirectly communicate that they are not humans.
It is important for chatbot conversations not to lose context and follow linear conversation routes. It is absolutely okay to expose and explain limitations. As a designer, you just need to ensure that the steps that the user goes through to reach their end goal should not be complicated and long. You must guide the user through easy and simple choices.
So, always provide users with options for specific inputs with exclusive buttons or visual options through carousels. The simplifying choice is an important feature of chatbot design.
The use of chatbots should not be restricted to an FAQ or customer service team alternative. They should be used to improve the end user experience. A designer while designing for bots should always cross-question - Would a live agent do a better job here?
If it's a yes, then you should understand that the bots are there to replace humans at what they are good at. Bots are there to replace humans where they are slow or less efficient.
Don't leave the users clueless or endlessly trapped in a conversation. The higher the number of alleyways a conversation goes through, the higher the chances of having dead ends. It is important to have some soft words like “ Oh no” or human fallback options like “Ahm, I think I didn't get you. I am still learning !”
Or validate the text of the structures like phone number, email id before proceeding, this would keep the conversations on track.
User context is an essential aspect of the UX design elements. Like for a product, it is important to know your user persona; same goes the case for chatbots. You can use the predetermined queries to keep the context in mind. The user information and user context can be fine-tuned over time and the chatbot replies and questions can be designed to consider the user context. The bot behaviour would change depending on if it is a new user or an old user.
To Sum up
Conversational UX are the new cornerstones in web technologies, opening a whole new set of possibilities and opportunities for creative work. This shows that creative tweaking would never cease to evolve. With enhanced focus on customer engagement and interactions with a chatbot, UX designs in the form of a conversational interface will be adopted by a huge number of businesses. So, it is important to design them right for the right set of users.