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News, UX

Natural language, or a modern form of communication with clients

What do forms, bots and social media have in common?

For some time now, we have been noticing an increasingly stronger emphasis on solutions called “Zero UI” in design trends. What is it? This is a tendency to create electronic devices and services that lack a traditional visual interface. Instead of it, intelligent bots answer the user’s questions. This trend is becoming more and more bold in communication in social media channels.

The direction of change is mainly determined by Internet giants – Amazon and Google. Their products – Amazon Alexa and Google Home – can be considered the most advanced and sophisticated devices of this type. They feature a very simple and well-thought-out interface where commands – usually spoken out loud – are basically a form of conversation with the device.

However, the market offers many simpler solutions, the most popular of which is probably Apple Siri, which has been present in Apple store since 2005. The system allows you to use simple voice commands when you cannot use the touch interface.

However, the latest solutions that more and more boldly enter the market are available in popular social communicators. Due to their ease of use and versatility of use, brands looking for new ways of communication with their clients should most interested in. The social media channel seems to be a natural place for the development of this type of application.

Facebook Messenger – this is how bots are implemented most often

Facebook certainly helped creating your own bots for the use in social media certainly. In 2016, Facebook made it possible to use them on a larger scale in the Messenger application and released to the market a comprehensive set of tools for designing them. Thanks to this, brands have gained completely new opportunities that they can use in their communication, even if they do not have their own development team that could create such bots.

Deloitte Kariera profile is a good example of the use of the algorithm, which allowed reducing the number of responses to frequently repeated questions. At the same time, the solution does not exclude the possibility of contacting the HR team by the Messenger application, because the visitor can switch to “Livechat” at any time. The application of the algorithm to sift out recurring questions, however, allowed focusing on the most sensitive and unique issues that until now, due to the workload, had to be treated negligibly and were usually limited to redirecting to the page with current job offers.

When will natural language be useful for communication with the client?

Phillip Hunter  from Amazon, who designs Alexa Skills Kit on a daily basis, during his speech at the UX Poland 2017 conference (organized by Deloitte Digital) outlined simple rules to be followed when considering the usefulness of new bot applications.

According to Hunter, bot must be:

  • Useful, helpful and desired.
  • Clear, predictable, joyful.
  • Quicker, easier, much more satisfying

Why such? Because by introducing new solutions to the market, we always compete with the old ones. One must be sure that a given function will give something more than a new way of interacting with a computer. It is a process that is worth applying in many projects implementing new solutions. However, in the case of new technologies, it usually requires greater knowledge of the design process and high-class specialists working on such a project

Bots will prove useful in the long term if they streamline existing processes. According to internal analyzes used by Deloitte in assessing the suitability of this technology, the most important factor is to assess the situation and our capabilities. You can do this by scheduling tasks that you want to be handled by the natural language in terms of their basic features. Two main dimensions serve this purpose, which can later be broken down into smaller parts.

Consider first whether using a natural language interface is:

  1. Beneficial?
  2. Technically possible?

Thanks to this simple division you can go a step further and check whether the first point replaces repeatable procedures, minimizes interaction with people, simplifies the process. However, in the second category of questions you need to check whether business rules are well defined, process data is available and whether the company is ready for a new, innovative solution.

In this context, we can presume that, for example, booking a table in a restaurant might be a good example of using a bot. This is a repetitive operation currently carried out by employees often burdened with other duties. To assess it, we only need a number of tables and people who can sit at each of them and information about their occupancy. On this basis, we can design a simple conversation and, for non-standard requirements, redirect the client to the staff.

However, using natural language to handle more complex processes can be much more difficult and less cost-effective. If we want to create a bot, for example, which would recommend the best way of a car repair after an accident, then we must measure our strength. While for a car repair shop vehicle repair is a frequent activity, the number of possible combinations and faults and their uniqueness may result in low accuracy of the obtained results. The less complex and repetitive the process, the better for the bot algorithm.

Keep your finger on the pulse

Although it will probably take some time before the interfaces based on natural language will come into common use for good, it is worth to address this topic today. There is no doubt that along with the development of tools for creating bots, it will be easier for us to create more complex and sophisticated interactions with users, in which the impression of talking with a computer algorithm will disappear in favor of talking to a living person.

Of course, not all services and solutions are suitable for creating client communication based on the “zero UI” principles. However, it is worth keeping your finger on the pulse and checking the progress in this field. Using these tools at the right moment can provide us with a big competitive advantage and open up completely new communication channels. As was the case, for example, in the case of a British food supplier, “Just Eat” restaurant. Implementation of the chat on which customers were served by a bot gave – according to MarketingWeek portal – a conversion better by 266% compared to the standard advertisement in the SM in November 2016.

 

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Authors:

Marcin Kinderman

Manager | Head of UI/UX

 

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