The Rise of Conversational User Interfaces

The number of virtual assistants has grown by 23.1% in just 2017 and over 60.5 million people in the US alone use a virtual assistant or conversational interface at least once a month.

With a conversational interface, it becomes possible for people to interact with a computer on human terms. It is a big shift from the earlier way of communicating with the computer by entering syntax specific commands or clicking on specific icons. To put it in simpler terms, conversational interface or CI is a more social way for the user to interact with traditional apps.

It is believed that conversational interface will soon become the first priority for developers, surpassing mobile-first and cloud-native projects. But why is CI so important and what does it entail? Let’s find out:

Chatbots and voice assistants

Conversational interfaces can take two forms — Chatbots that allow you to type and voice assistants that allow you to talk. Tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have not only introduced voice assistants, but they are also making these voice assistants smarter by every passing day. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana are some of the most common examples.

These voice assistants can perform tasks, schedule an appointment, find a file, or book a table in a restaurant — All through voice commands.

Chatbots, on the other hand, take text commands and perform tasks. Slack’s slackbot is a great example of it and so is the now discounted Facebook M chatbot.

Why are companies investing big on conversation interfaces?

For companies, CIs have spiked their interest by offering an intelligence interface by combining voice recognition technology with contextual awareness and artificial reasoning. That is why CIs have a better understanding of natural language. Of course, the most alluring feature of CIs is that they are able to facilitate the frictionless experience for users.

Today, many companies are investing in voice assistants and chatbots because they are able to serve as stand-alone interfaces and handle requests by automating the entire process. There was a time when customer response was a phone call away; now it’s just a chatbot away.

How businesses benefit from CI

With native applications, whether its web or mobile, all the users get the same experience. It would be next to impossible to design customized screens with different visual aesthetic and languages to appeal to different type of users.

Conversational interfaces are able to provide that much needed customized experience for users and that is why they are more personal than native apps. The personalisation can manifest in different forms. While the first couple of questions may be consistent for each user, it quickly takes a unique turn depending upon the user’s responses.

In a number of cases, users actually prefer interaction with a CI instead of a human, especially when it comes to sharing personal information like medical or financial data. The idea behind it is that while people may consciously or unconsciously judge, computers are objective and they are only programmed to provide objective information.

In conclusion

Conversational interfaces are one of the best implementations of AI, and they can give customers the much-needed personalization they require.

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