Designing a Conversational World

In 2017, people spend more time messaging than on social media. More and more companies are realising this and implementing website chatbots, designed to navigate visitors through a website and help them quickly and easily reach their end goal. By creating a personalised experience for anyone visiting a website, these bots are capable of increasing site conversions by 30%.

Website chatbots, or Sitebots, offer beneficial services like 24/7 round the clock availability. Site visitors can enjoy an immediate response time, every time. These bots will point visitors exactly where they want to go by first understanding their priorities, and then triaging their needs towards the end goal.

Once a bot is implemented on a site, it will constantly push forward using machine learning and AI to harvest data from each experience with a visitor and improve exponentially over time. If a Sitebot encounters a new scenario or runs out of options to offer, it will seamlessly and professionally hand off to a human agent. Next time around, it won’t have to. This significantly reduces manpower requirements for easier requests, as the Sitebot becomes capable of performing more and more complex tasks.

It’s logical to wonder how a Sitebot differs from a search feature on a site. With a normal search, when a visitor asks any question, he has to read through each search result to figure out what the true answer is. With Sitebot, a website is a less lonely place for a visitor. It will find the singular best answer to any question at hand.

The drawbacks occur when we try to convey Sitebot as a human, and then it has problems answering the question correctly. It’s frustrating to waste your time typing into the reply field of a chat, only to figure out the “person” on the other side doesn’t have the answer you’re looking for in the script it is following. You’re left more frustrated and confused than when you originally landed on the site. Furthermore, there is still a lot of typing required from the visitor for Sitebot to navigate to the correct destination.

Introducing quick selection options above the reply field of the chat could eliminate too much typing. These pre-determined options can be based on most popularly searched items and relevant topics. They allow quick access to information that visitors need most frequently. Most importantly, Sitebot will enter the conversation in a transparent, gender neutral way, never hiding the fact that it is a bot.

When Sitebot begins assisting visitors in quickly achieving their goal, it implies that it values their time. By setting the right expectations up front and establishing trust with site visitors, the bot creates a more forgiving relationship with the visitors. This is how the experience remains smooth and seamless, even in scenarios where Sitebot makes a mistake or has to hand over the conversation to a human agent. The sites that reap the most rewards will do so by finding the right balance between automation and human agent assistance.

In the next 3 years, bots will be implemented everywhere and offer competitive advantages to all types of businesses on all types of budgets. They will become a digital innovation weaponised by traditional companies to create the most efficient user experiences on their websites. Use cases for chatbots are unlimited due to their machine learning capabilities. Bots will be implemented on large e-commerce brands sites, to content-dense information-only sites, to sites offering sales support services or customer support services, to product descriptions and business development services, the list goes on.

In the future, companies must differentiate their bots, which should offer a mix of completely new services and improved existing services, without losing focus of a specific problem area. By relating to the visitor on a personal level, the Sitebot allows for an almost human-like experience without being, well, human.

Shana Singh, UX Designer, Redd