June 04, 2019
Voice assistants are everywhere. Maybe you have one yourself or maybe you’ve gone out of your way to avoid them, but either way you can’t pretend they don’t exist.
Smart assistants and customer expectations
At Valtech, we too recognise the potential of smart speakers and other conversational interfaces. Anyone who thinks they have only emerged over the last few years is wrong. Although small-scale, experiments involving chatbots have been going on for decades. This development has gained momentum in recent years, partly due to technological developments such as cloud computing and machine learning. But changing consumer wishes and requirements play an equally important role in this.
Which is why I have asked myself the question:
“Are conversational interfaces the answer to today’s high consumer expectations?"
Guide your bot using customer expectations
These changing consumer needs are reflected in three service expectation trends. Important trends that lie at the heart of what disrupters such as Spotify, Uber, Picnic and Hellofresh offer.
Convenience and speed
More than ever, consumers require convenience and speed. A conversational interface, with its natural way of communicating, can provide the ideal solution because instead of having to learn complex interface structures, the user can begin the conversation their own way. A further advantage of conversational interfaces is that the user’s context can also be included in the conversation. This makes it possible to help users faster.
Second, we see that people have a clear preference for first trying to resolve issues themselves. A conversational bot can help, especially with simple or repetitive matters. Users often experience communicating with a bot as being faster and more direct than with a human.
Conversations with a good conversational interface feel personal. You can communicate and ask questions in your own, natural, way. Personalised content and relevant recommendations reinforce this human experience. Advice can be compiled based on information gleaned during the discussion and profile data.
What should you pay attention to?
That all sounds good, but there are things to bear in mind when working with conversational interfaces.
1. A conversational interface is never a goal in itself
Though consumers are looking for convenience and speed and a conversational interface can offer a solution here, it is important that you validate whether a conversational interface actually works more easily and faster than other forms of interaction.
2. The success or otherwise of your self-service interface depends on your content
A conversational interface for self-service is more than a dialogue version of your frequently asked questions.
3. Be careful when using data explicitly
If a consumer notices that you have more information at your disposal than what they have shared in the conversation, it can seem scary. You dent the confidence that you have built up to that point.
4. A conversational interface has an impact on your organisation
When someone talks with a conversational interface, they aren’t thinking in terms of business departments; they’re communicating with your brand as a whole. The subject might touch different departments in your organisation: from requesting product information a question about sales or service requests. Use your customer journeys to gain insight into the context of the question.
5. You don’t need any fixed commands to communicate with a conversational interface
This spares customers a lot of friction and frustration.
6. The quality of conversational interfaces is improving rapidly
Mainstream use of conversational interfaces is still relatively new in the Netherlands and elsewhere, but this changing rapidly due to technological developments. This popularity is in turn driving technical progress: the more conversational interfaces are used, the better they work and the better they can help the user.
What impact will changing service expectations have on your organisation?
Conversational interfaces are not necessarily the answer to changing customer expectations. They do, however, make a positive contribution to what customers expect from interactions with your brand. These interactions must be easy, fast and personalised as today's consumers are demanding. And that is precisely where the challenge lies.
My advice: always put the needs of the customer number 1 and experiment with and discover the possibilities of this promising technology.
- Pieterjan Oomen - Lead Art, Design and UX Design.