Episode 20: Will Conversational Interfaces Replace Your Website?

Alexa AI assistant sitting on top of a pile of books

Show Notes:

Conversational data more preference rich

More actionable data

Navigation faster

Custom apps are dead

Voice interfaces have a more personal feel

Technology and users are prepared

  • Phones
  • Smart speakers
  • IoT

Unifying platforms

Frictionless experience for consumer and sales

Inherently personalized experience

Conversational interfaces convert at a higher rate

Will change the way we do design

  • Personas
  • Conversation flows – think scriptwriters
  • Anticipatory
  • Context cues
  • Prioritize data and guides to move the conversation along

Further Reading:

Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash



Hey, this is bill rice with make the logo bigger and today I’m without my trusty cohost, Mike Carroll. He’s off. I’m having or enjoying his new baby boy, so he’s just had his second child, so we wish Mama and the baby and whole family, uh, all the health and excitement that that brings and hopefully they’re getting a little bit of sleep, but all that’s to say he won’t be here with me today. So we’re going to do something a little bit different. I’ve actually got my youtube audience here as well. They’ve never kind of seen the facade behind the scenes of a podcast. So if you haven’t checked out my youtube channel, you can just search for bill rice. Uh, you should be able to find that there’ll be a link in the show notes so you can get that, encourage you to subscribe there or share a lot of content via youtube. It’s a little bit of a different feel. So anyway, welcome a youtube audience, um, and for all my podcast folks, um, this will be a little bit of a shorter episode. [inaudible]. I’m just going to kind of, you know, I am solo here, but I do want to go through some thoughts about a topic that we are working with in coordination with, with a client, a client that we have in the artificial intelligence space, and it’s really kind of opened my eyes and our organization’s eyes to kind of like what’s coming down the pipe. This particular company is a conversational ai platform, companies, they aid companies and building conversational interfaces and as we sort of working with them and digging in as we often do with their marketing program and learning more about the technology, um, it really made us kind of understand and realize how quickly a voice interfaces, conversational interfaces are coming at us.

Um, and so today, uh, the topic is we’ll conversational interfaces replace our websites and that’s Kinda what we’re starting to think about and wrestle with it. Kaleidico is, you know, obviously we design and develop websites, uh, particularly for lead generation and lead conversion. So it’s kind of a specialty of ours. But as I work with this conversational Ai Company and I see what they’re building, um, I definitely see a point in time or a future where if not, the whole website becomes a voice interface. Um, definitely some essential components of the conversion of the lead generation and conversion portions of these online properties, these internet environments, if you will, just to kind of broaden the definition, um, are definitely going to become a conversational interfaces or buoys views. I don’t know, that’s the new term, uh, to compete with gooey. But anyway, voice user interfaces. So we’re having to learn some different stuff. So what I want to take you through today is sort of a first, a little bit of background on a conversational ai conversational interfaces. I’m probably heighten your sensitivity to how you’re already using these interfaces, uh, because that’s a big part of why it’s coming so fast because they become so ubiquitous and they’re conditioning you as a consumer to use your voice when you need things in one things instead of searching or using a graphical interface. So, um, and then the second part of this conversation, I want to kind of talk through why I think this trend is going to be so powerful and why it’s already gaining so much momentum because there’s some kind of essential components to it that makes it very compelling and attractive to a consumer. So let’s go through that. So kind of the first thing, you know, when we’re talking about conversational interfaces, we’re talking about you talking to a, your smartphone, you talking to the Internet of things, the variety of smart devices that are in your house now that could be an often is kind of centered around a smart speaker, maybe a google hub or an Alexa or something like that. But increasingly I’m kind of little mini hubs. You may be controlling your life, uh, you’re lighting without these other devices, but you may be talking to your refrigerator. There’s, I mean, it’s really becoming a pervasive as just kind of an easy way because as we have these little, these little things like light bulbs and stuff like that, or your refrigerator, it’s kind of hard to make a graphical interface. And, you know, maybe you’re across the room when you want to do things anyway, so voice starts to make a lot of sense. So, um, so just kind of, you know, the convenience of that and the pervasiveness of that has created, especially the smartphone. That’s really the big trigger.

When we started talking, we had Siri, um, and we started talking to our phone and we started giving these ai companies and these people like Google and Amazon and we started giving them really rich preference data that was able and conversational data was that allowed them to start to build these interfaces and make them better because again, it became Kinda, hey, I, hey, you know, google or a Siri, how do I get to Xyz restaurant? Right? And so you’ve given them permission to have all these little pieces and snippets of conversations. And then they do their deep learning and machine learning stuff. Then they start to figure out how people interact with them and start to, to learn, um, how to build these phases. So we’re giving them a rich data, a preference data that’s really accelerating this, the actual data. In those conversations versus um, you know, if you’re in the business, if you’re an agency or even if you’re a, um, an in house marketing person, you know, you’re probably always looking at google analytics and maybe have something like hotjar and you’re looking at all these behaviors. You’re trying to figure out what the heck are people trying to do. Um, and it can be tough. You’re making a lot of assumptions when you’re looking at that kind of data to try to figure out the behaviors and then of course, how to design interfaces to those behaviors. But when you’re talking about conversational data, the user, the consumer is actually telling you very specifically what they’re trying to accomplish. And that becomes very actionable data unlike some of these other sort of interfaces that we’ve, that we build. And we tried to get data from navigation much faster rate. You can kind of quickly a renegotiate what you’re asking for, where you’re trying to go. Um, so Nova, Nova, a navigation becomes much easier for the consumer. And then the other kind of trend that kind of rolls up into this is over time, because we had to kind of deal with the difference between a desktop and a smart phone we’ve created. It’s kind of these other platforms, right? So we’ve got a website and tried to mobile optimize that, but that’s not perfect. So what do we do? We launch on apps that became really popular. I think that trend is actually going to go away. I think we’re going to see kind of a desk to, to organizational apps or apps that are designed to kind of ride in parallel to the web experience now. I think obviously going to have, you’re going to have vr experience, you can have all these app experiences still, but I think I’m sort of replicating our website and putting it in an app for your consumer that, that trend is going to kind of go away.

Okay. So that’s Kinda the background of kind of what’s happening and why this is being sort of driven. Um, now let’s talk about a very specific or just kind of kind of go through a laundry list of my thinking as to why these things are going to be important, why we’re going to have to build voice interfaces, why we’re going to have to consider replacing some essential features of the website with voice interfaces or a rough equivalent of that, which is the whole chat Bot, um, scenario. So when I talk about those, and this is conversational ai, people hate this and ai people hate this. It has to, to kind of talk about these two things interchangeably, but I think as they pertain to the website as they pertain to what you as a company need to build for your consumers, there is some close linkage and there may even be a, an evolution from Chat Bot to a voice and that sort of thing. Or like we saw before desktop, maybe you see more of the chat bot interaction. Whereas if you’re on a smartphone, you’ll see more of the voice interaction. So I think they are somewhat tightly related for this conversation. So I’m going to use them somewhat interchangeably. I’ll try to kind of define why, um, why I do that and when I do that, but one of the key pieces of why I’m kind of trying to background why I’m going to use those together is because I think web forms. Um, so the core of what we do as a lead generation agency is to actually generate a lead, which generally is a web form. Sometimes it’s a phone call, but generally it’s a web form fill. I think that’s going to completely go away. Um, I’m a very confident, uh, that companies like drift are on the right path and that they’re using chatbots and they’re using voice interfaces now to allow the consumer to be very specific with what they want instead of just giving me your information and then I’m going to link you up with a person that’s going to then try to have that discovery process. Um, really with chatbots and with conversational Ai, you can have that discovery session up front and then you can engage with them and engage. It’s better for you as well. Engage your salesforce only at the point in time where you truly understand what the consumer wants and the consumer gets a better experience because they’re telling you what they want and they start the conversation where they want to start it. Okay. So anyway, that was a long introduction to kind of running through some of these more important topics here in this list. So why is this going to happen? Well, voice interfaces for one just has a more personal feel, right when you’re interacting with your phone or whatever it, it just feels more personal, more custom. Then sort of punching in there and trying to figure out what the designer wanted you to do. Trying to figure out navigation, voice interfaces, uh, and chatbots are just, um, just feel, uh, like a more natural interaction. Um, this is a big one.

The second one is a big one. Um, I think that technology, the technology itself, conversational ai, chatbots and all the things that are even the front ends that devices like the smart speakers and the smartphones, that technology and the consumers, users are actually prepared for this sort of evolution or revolution in moving from a graphical user interface to a voice user interface because of a combination of things. One, we’re starting to use it, it’s becoming easier to use. Consumers are experiencing it and so it doesn’t really, to them it’s not going to feel like a revolution on the technology side. I know as we get into this, we’re experiencing sort of that revolution and how hard that problem is. But from a consumer side it feels like a very natural evolution and that will actually, that seems to be quickening the adoption and the pace of that. People really enjoy that. So why has that happened? Well, uh, the smartphone, again, like I said before, it’s kind of the trigger that allowed us to put a conversational ai platform and everybody’s hand, um, which allowed us to gather good data and also to prepare the consumer to use that and enjoy that kind of experience. Smart speakers. I think Google has the google devices or google minis reached over a billion devices over the Christmas holiday, so they’re just becoming pervasive on average now. It seems like if somebody has one of these devices in the home, uh, they average between two and three. So there’s definitely a pervasiveness of smart speakers and starting to hook up your whole home, right? Your Thermostat, your lights, you know, your refrigerator. I’m hooking up all those sort of devices. And so, and that gets into the Internet of things. Um, really when you’re talking about, um, you know, something like a nest or, um, or lights or whatever you want to talk to those things, right to, if you’ve tried to program your nest, that initial interaction where you kind of have to work with the Gui on that little little tiny device is just a, just a frustrating to say the least. I just did one over the Christmas holiday and that initial process is awful, right? They need to make it voice for sure. Um, okay, next thing, number three, we’re starting to unify platforms. I sort of touched on this a little bit earlier where we built websites and then we have the smart phone doesn’t work as well as, you know, websites so work as well as they did on desktop when you go to the smartphone. Um, and so to sort of overcome that weakness, we built some apps and so we have this app thing, so we now have these multiple platforms that we’re trying interact with the consumer with. We’ve got website, we may have some texting that’s going on. Uh, so that’s another kind of popular way to interact with consumers now, especially in the sales world. Then you may have an app that actually supports them, supports the actual customers, uh, with some, some loyalty features and stuff like that. This is probably going to pull all that together, especially the APP, the consumer APP, the consumer facing company APP is probably going to go away and that’s going to be some amalgamation or some, some sort of kind of a mixture of, of a website and this voice interface. So, um, I think websites will still be there just to kind of suss out this topic too, cause I think you’re still going to want to serve web type pages. I’m just, the efficiency of that is so nice that I think even on your smart devices and everything, the web pages is going to be served through when you get into some more detail or do you want to look at something? Um, so I think there’s still a web platform in there. Um, but I think it looks much differently and going directly to, it probably looks much differently as well. It’s a frictionless experience for both consumer and sales. If you’ve ever used drift, I talk about them a lot, big fans of kind of what they’re doing over there, but if you’ve ever looked at them, they are kind of the perfect example.

If you want to understand how this is, this makes our interactions more frictionless, right? So consumer comes in, they’re very specific about what they want. That discovery process generally is handled by the actual Ai Bot itself. I’m going down a few different pads, offering some, some different options, and then at the point where it makes sense, I’m the salesperson can engage, right? So super efficient and frictionless for the consumer to kind of do whatever they want to do up until the point that they’re ready to kind of get serious about a transaction in a salesperson, doesn’t have to support all of that kind of a throat clearing that the consumer does is they’re trying to kind of move around the website and figuring out what they want to do and, and how they want to have the conversation. Um, or what questions are important to them. The salesperson doesn’t have to kind of go through all that messiness a, so it really cuts down on the friction and I think also it cuts down on the friction because at the moment that I’m ready to interact, we’re all there together at the same time, right? With a form fill, um, you know, with a phone call to some degree, there’s an expectation. We get a lot of form fills. This is a constant point of friction and frustration. Even the salesforce, oftentimes somebody will fill out a form for the sole intent of the salesperson following up with them later because they don’t have time right now. So what happens then? You, right, you get a form fill, you immediately call back because that’s what everybody tells you to do as fast as you can. And then there’s nobody there and you get a voicemail and then you spend the rest of your time trying to overcome that friction of getting them back on the phone or getting them on the phone for the first time. And the anxiety of, oh crap, I just triggered a salesperson. Right? And so, um, anyway, I think this experience is far less friction inherently. It’s a personalized experience, right? Inherently, when you are talking to a conversational interface, you’re telling it exactly what you want to do, right? Um, and your talking to it however you feel comfortable talking to it, right?  You’re using the language, you feel comfortable with your using the terminology that you feel comfortable with. This the big thing, oftentimes when you’re talking to a salesperson or you’re even interacting with a website, um, you are, um, so often I’m having to figure out the terminology, right? You’re wading through jargon, you’re trying to understand what they’re trying to do there. Um, so that’s, that’s a big barrier there to just personalization, right? This is another one, this is the second to last one, but I think it’s kind of interesting because there is some data to support that conversational interfaces actually convert at a higher rate. And this makes sense for a lot of things that we’ve already talked about, right? The actual interface itself is, feels a little more natural. It’s efficient and frictionless both on the consumer, in the sales side. Um, and you get to kind of move forward at your pace and talk about this transaction in the way that you are most comfortable. And so I think that becomes really important to why this momentum is happening and why particularly the web form experiences is going to kind of be replaced by these conversational interfaces and probably even some of the kind of the core homepage like navigation and that sort of thing I think is going to be overwhelmed by that.

I could, I could see a future where you arrive at a website and there is no navigation, um, other than either what they kind of drive you through on that single page interface or a, you’re talking to a chat bot that’s moving you around on the website based on what you’re asking for. Or if, again, you’re using your voice and talking to it. Again, it’s serving up pages and it’s serving up resources based on exactly what you’re asking for now versus you having been sort of hunt and peck and trying to figure out where the information is that you like. Okay. So ultimately all of this I’m going to kind of round it out with. So those are all the reasons that I think it’s just a super strong case. Um, I don’t know the timetable, but I feel like it’s really fast, um, that this is going to start to happen within the next year or two. You’re going to see some dramatic shifts and the, the innovators in the space are just gonna kind of lead forward into this because I think it’s ready. I think conversational interfaces are pretty ready at least to ride alongside a traditional website interface. But um, but in order for that to happen, in order for that to happen in a good way, we really have to change the way that we designed things. And so that’s what I want to kind of round out this podcast, which is just to kind of talk about a couple of things. I think that a good a Ui, ux designers are already doing some of these things, but I think it’s important for us to think about, um, exactly kind of what is different and maybe the skill sets that are different. And maybe the way that we need to prepare our own skillsets to be able to do this better, right? So, um, so how do we change the way that we design? So one of the things that we’re already doing in, in, you know, most design sessions that I, or processes that I’ve been a part of is we’re using personas, right? We’re thinking about who that consumer is. We’re thinking about the different types of consumers will interact with. And so we’ve got faces for them, right? And we’ve got a, at least our definition of the type of behavior that we think, um, that they will go through.

So that’s really important because I think, um, when you’re talking conversational interfaces, um, I think more like, um, I think a big westworld fan. So I think westworld is kind of the context of that designers start to fall in, right? Because we’re, we’re developing kind of this, this natural interaction. Um, and so I think the design process feels a little bit like that, right? We’re, we’re, um, we’re understanding the personas. And then the second piece is we’re understanding the types of conversational flows that those types of people will have, right? And I’m thinking more like a, a scriptwriter, right? Um, what do, what will these type of people say? And then what should I be prepared? There’s a, there’s an anticipatory aspect to the design, like what would I say back? So you’re kind of looking for all these and again, something that we’re familiar with, but I think it’s just how we do it or the context changes a little bit, but, you know, we’re looking for all those use cases, right? We got personas, we’re looking for all those use cases and we’re starting to prepare scripts more than actual kind of interactions, but we’re actually preparing scripts now. How will we respond to those use cases? And then the other thing, um, because you won’t have any in the ultimate, you know, a realization of this, I don’t think you’re going to have a lot of visual cues. And so without those visual cues, it’s important for you to kind of give some context cues, right? So if you can detect that someone’s lost or even the AI itself gets lost, um, some of these healing routines, as they’re called, they use conversational healing techniques, not need to be in the interface that will allow, um, if something gets broken, something gets disconnected. Um, it allows both the consumer and the ai to kind of backtrack and try to heal that understanding, try to figure out what that is. And you can do that with some context cues like, hey, did you mean this or did you mean that? Or kind of give them some options. I’m a little bit like an old Ivr, right?

It’s like, okay, here’s some paths we can go down, like choose your own adventure because we’re obviously lost. Right? So I think that’s going to be important to the design process. And then kind of related to that is prioritizing data, right? So as you get a consumer in you as the company or you as the kind of the provider of the experience and know that there’s certain goals that you have in mind. So much like a salesperson, I’m sort of guides people into the, you know, a path, um, I think that’s going to be a part of the process too. Now that may sound kind of icky to a consumer, but I think it’s actually very helpful because, um, as a company that has a product or a service, you deal with a lot of people that need your product and service. And so you learn a lot about what people actually need and want versus kind of sometimes what they ask about. I mean, we get this all the time, uh, with marketing even with very experienced marketing directors and cmos. And um, oftentimes especially if we deal around sort of new techniques or we get kind of get in the weeds on a specific type of technique. They know they need a certain outcome. They knew they need a certain. I’m saying, but they don’t know exactly kind of how they get there. They don’t know, uh, maybe the right product, maybe the right technology, maybe the right approach or a process to actually produce that result. And so I think this is really important and conversational ai, conversational interfaces as well, is to kind of act like a guide and help people kind of get to where you know, they ultimately probably need to be. So anyway, that’s some of my high level thoughts. There’s always an article, of course, associated with this. And so I encourage you to check that out. Again, encourage you to come over to the youtube channel and subscribe to that. We’d love to have you over there. We share a lot more, a lot more frequently, uh, even just kind of these one off tips and tricks and trends that we’re seeing and, and helpful even just how to do things right. So I encourage you to sign up for a subscribe to our youtube, uh, and then of course share the podcast around. This is a super fun. We’re back in. The saddle happens every single week and, uh, so, uh, like us and give us Kudos enough votes on this so that more people know about it. So, and if there’s anything on the youtube channel or the podcast, wherever you consume your podcast, we’d love to hear your comments so we know how we’re doing and what you would like to hear about next time. Next time it’s been. Make the logo bigger with Bill Rice and hopefully we’ll have Mike Carroll back with us next week. Have a great one.

About Bill Rice

Bill Rice is the Founder & CEO of Kaleidico, a digital agency. Bill specializes in providing law firms, attorneys, banks, and emerging technology clients with lead generation strategies enabled with content marketing, SEO, PPC, and email marketing.

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