Chatbot User Experience Design in An Omnichannel World

One of the key parameters while assessing a Generative Conversational AI is its ability to provide a well-rounded user experience (UX). When a chatbot is deployed on multiple channels, it needs to have an interactive, engaging, intuitive and consistent UX to ensure a successful deployment. The need for this holistic UX is merely the tip of the iceberg in the way of chatbot UX designers. From consistency to intuitiveness, UX is the dealbreaker for chatbots.

UX is the aggregation of all the aspects of a user’s interactions – from practical and valuable to affective and emotional – with a business offering.

Designing this experience for human-machine interaction (like a chatbot) across multiple channels requires a different level of product ownership. The user – be it a customer, client, employee, or any other stakeholder - evaluates the experience not only on features and functionality of the assistant but also on the aesthetics and accessibility. This means that while attributes like self-learning, preference analysis, intelligent suggestions, domain-specific training data, and likewise form the foundation of a chatbot, the final presentation layer is of equal importance.

More than a simple message!

Without conversational personalization, a chatbot experience is just a predetermined path that every user must undertake mostly by clicking menu-like buttons and answering similar, static questions before finding what they seek. In today’s age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, such a rule-based experience (even with quirky salutations and addressing the user by name) does not cut the mark. Chatbots are required to be much more than their predecessors to garner worthwhile engagement numbers and provide value. A successful chatbot UX design strategy, therefore, is one that makes each individual user feel as though the conversation is tailored to their needs and situation.

So, what are the issues a user might face while chatting with an AI assistant? According to a recent study, the user (here a customer) can face problems at every stage of the buying journey. From order history to payment to shipping and invoice – the current experience of a conversational bot is flawed in multiple ways. Unquestionably, the expectations are higher when conversing with a bot as compared to a human representative.

Following are some of the features a user expects the chatbot to have:

  • Quick and proactive responses

    Provide appropriate responses and immerse the conversation with FAQ’s to accelerate the interaction.

  • Communicable language

    Communicate in easy, day-to-day language rather than jargon and technical terms. Users should be able to understand and follow the information without any hassle.

  • Full control to users

    Support functionalities like undo and redo so that users can be in full control of the request/order status.

  • Consistent yet channel-oriented experience

    Consistency of experience is, without a doubt, the predominant trait expected out of any brand touchpoint. Since chatbots are implemented in multiple applications, messengers, and websites – the experiences they create must be consistent both in terms of information and responsiveness.

  • Error prevention

    The experiences weaved by chatbots are expected to be as flawless as possible without any glitches and interruptions. The chatbot should be able to prevent any error-prone condition in the process of conversation.

  • Minimalist engagement

    Reduce the dissemination of unnecessary, off-the-topic information that annoys users. The interaction should be effective, relevant, and less time-consuming.

  • Help and document

    Customer service should be optimized with human intervention, helpline phone numbers, and access to relevant services. The user history should be skilfully recorded and analyzed for intelligent suggestions.

Your Concise Guide to A Superior UX Creation For Chatbots

Chatbots are expected to be able to solve user’s problems, answer intelligently, and instill interest – creating a high-quality UX requires the seamless merging of multiple disciplines like engineering, marketing, graphical design, and interface design. However, one should be able to distinguish user experience from the user interface (UI) and usability. UI design pertains to the processes of making software interfaces to result in a specific look or style. Usability is defined as the quality attribute of the UI which relates to factors like whether the system is easy to learn, efficient to use, and so forth.

We have zeroed down the four mantras of impactful chatbot UX design that will ensure the success of your final solution.

  • Identify and define the bot’s purpose

    Begin with the basics. Set the purpose of the chatbot by identifying the value it will bring to the end-customer and align the design process accordingly. You can decide the scope of the project through user-centric design techniques, such as research and ideation.

  • Finalize one tone of voice

    From the welcome message to failure message and feedback request – each conversation must be consistent as far as tonality is concerned. For a great UX, it is of utmost importance to maintain the same tone across the different mediums of chatbot deployment and develop a personality. By making the interaction sound least robotic and cold, you can deliver a sense of having a real ‘personal assistant’. The tone of voice can be modulated under given circumstances to make it even more humane – such as having a remorseful failure message.

  • Infuse small details from recorded conversations

    The data extracted from a user’s past interactions are perfect fodder for creating a personalized UX for the chatbot. The goal is to not treat repeat users the same as a first-time user. The concept is simple: use what you already know about the user from their previous interactions with the chatbot or the product it supports, to create an optimized conversation flow that minimizes the user’s path to their desired solution. This can be as rudimentary as a chatbot that helps users order pizza remembering the delivery and preference details from last order. We experience the benefits of conversational context in our everyday conversations with other humans. The same would be enough to turn tables if deployed efficiently in chatbot UX.

  • Plan for misunderstandings

    Be it a rule-based or an AI-based solution, a chatbot is sure to encounter unavoidable and unforeseeable glitches. Under challenging situations, the context of the user’s message or even the basic entity identification can be a roadblock. It is therefore wise to be prepared for such situations with scripted responses, automatic looping of a human operator (hybrid chatbot), or even a redirection to the customer helpline.

Here are a few other tips you can keep in mind when designing the UX of a chatbot.

  • Address user needs and expectations by providing specific answers
  • Enable users to easily complete their tasks by providing illustrations and CTA buttons
  • Provide users a natural and easy way to sieve through the search results
  • Allow users to save chats or resume from previous conversations
  • Provide features like autocomplete and selection of links, allowing users to interact freely
  • Provide an FAQ and customer support phone number

Leverage Chatbot Platforms for Best UX

Since ensuring the joy to own and use a chatbot means covering all peripheral aspects, businesses must account for factors like pleasure, elegance, and even fun while designing chatbots! This can be done in two ways – developing the chatbot from scratch or building it over an existing platform. Developing a chatbot on a platform has significant advantages on the UX. For starters, the chatbot is pre-trained on industry FAQs and domain-centric technical terms. On the other hand, plugging the chatbot platform into a company’s website or mobile app gives designers the freedom to create a custom branded experience. Designers can create custom buttons, color palettes, and other components to meet specific needs. This is about as good as it gets when it comes to making users feel as though the conversation is tailored to them.

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