You talkin' to me? The rise and implications of Conversational User Interfaces (CUI)

Last week Mark Simpson and I were invited to host a round table discussion at the UX Leaders Masterclass in Manchester. An event that set out to "showcase a series of expert insights from industry leaders who will share their latest thinking on the big issues, industry trends and strategies that are shaping the ‘User Experience’ landscape."

We were flattered to be hosting tables alongside other UX agencies whilst discussing a topic that is close to our hearts "The rise and implications of Conversational User Interfaces".

It was great to have representatives from some leading UK brands.

After a short introduction to the topic, to ensure everyone understood what a Conversational User Interface (CUI) was, we posed the question "what opportunities do you feel CUIs will open up for businesses?" It was interesting to hear how differently people believed this new channel could be of benefit to their business and industry, but overall the consensus was that chatbots would work better if they are niche in their subject matter and don’t try to do everything for everyone. It was also felt that voice recognition isn’t quite where it needs to be to ensure good adoption rates and that interaction with chat bots should be textual by default.

We talked with Boots about how a simple chatbot could help customers order repeat prescriptions or ask about the frequency, and dosage, of their medicines. There were also thoughts about how bots can help the airline industry by allowing customers to check their baggage allowances, flight times and gate numbers. The KLM messenger bot was cited numerous times as a great example for this industry.

When discussing with delegates from the finance industry we explored how bots could reach out to customers, who may be struggling with payments, to reassure them that by getting in touch they could arrange affordable repayment schedules.

As well as discussing how bots could improve our customers’ experiences we talked about how CUIs impact User Experience (UX) design. In that without a GUI the only thing left for a UX Designer to design is the bots responses, aka content. And that in the future, content will need to be designed for other bots as it’s more likely that bots such as the new Amazon’s Alexa will talk to other bots to get the information they need or complete a transaction, for example obtaining news headlines or ordering a pizza.

Overall, the UX Leaders Masterclass was a great experience for us to find out how much businesses are thinking about this new channel, and how their marketing and digital teams are addressing it.

To talk to us about how a chatbot could enhance your business, contact us on or call on 0845 365 4040. Alternatively to contact Joanne direct, find her on Linkedin or on Twitter.

Want to know more? We'd love to talk.