What Is Conversational User Interface (UI)?

What is conversational user interface and how is it changing the world of eCommerce?

According to the latest Adobe Digital Economy Index, global eCommerce sales are predicted to reach $4.2 trillion in 2021 and U.S. consumers account for close to one-quarter of that figure. In response to the surge in online sales, eCommerce companies are focusing on boosting brand loyalty and retaining customers.

One key strategy is the implementation of conversational commerce — a new form of eCommerce where consumers and brands communicate through messaging and chatbots.

Whether your goal is to improve customer experience (CX) or rework your digital strategy, chatbot UI is the future.

What Is Conversational User Interface (CUI)?

A conversational user interface (CUI) is an interface that allows computers to interact with people, emulating a conversation with an actual human. When using conversational UI, a consumer tells the computer what to do.

Depending on the context, conversational commerce can relate to concierge-type services, like Alexa — or be chatbot-based customer service.

Unlike automated chatbots, which address specific questions concerning returns, hours of operation and other FAQs, conversational commerce considers omnichannel marketing, providing consumers with more intelligent, human-like interactions.

Related: How conversational commerce is changing the customer experience

Types of Conversational Interfaces

There are two main types of conversational UI — chatbots and voice assistants.


Chatbots can be used on both mobile and desktop devices. A chatbot UI takes the form of chat bubbles in a messaging app, being a visual interface. This allows your business to have a 24/7 response system to provide your consumers with a constant line of communication.

Examples include:

  • AI-driven chatbots leverage Natural Language Processing and in some cases, machine learning to better understand the requests human users send. When machine learning is possible, the more a bot is used, the "smarter" it becomes.

  • Rule-based chatbots are programmed to answer questions based on set rules. Although the programming of these bots can be incredibly complex, the bot cannot answer anything it was not hard-coded to do.

Our powerful chatbot builder, Chat Flow, has an easy drag-and-drop functionality that your company can use to visually design, build, and test conversational experiences. Chatbots allow your consumers to interact with your brand as simply, quickly and as conveniently as possible. But what about when customers need additional support from a live agent? No problem! Using Clickatell’s live agent solution, Chat Desk, automatically transitions your consumer from the chatbot experience to a live agent to offer supplementary support when needed. This way, our automation can work harder so that your sales team can work smarter!

Voice Assistants

Voice assistants are bots that can communicate without needing a visual interface. Instead, these bots rely solely on sound. Voice User Interfaces (VUIs) are powered by voice recognition technology, AI and machine learning. Since creating a successful VUI is so complex, they are most commonly used by tech giants, including Apple (Siri), Google (Google Assistant) and Amazon (Echo).

Advantages of Conversational UI

The benefits of conversation UI are vast.

  • 24/4 availability — Your customers want to speak to brands whenever, wherever, which is one of the most significant benefits of conversational UI. If your customer has questions or doubts, they can seek answers, no matter the time of day. This level of support will help you generate more leads and improve customer retention. 

  • Competitive edge — Competition is steep, which is why you need to remain mindful of two valuable things, consumers' attention and time. Conversational UI delivers curated information to the user, saving them time.

  • Help automate simple operations — From a business standpoint, automation saves time and money. Simple, repetitive tasks, such as customer support or lead qualification, are time-consuming. Conversational commerce helps address these tasks and when a matter is more complex, a customer will wait less time to speak with a human representative who can handle their needs.

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages is that a chatbot can accurately depict a brand's personality and tone based on its target audience. The goal here is to show more of a human side to AI, as these more emotional, personal connections matter. Make your eCommerce brand customer-centric and let your consumers know that you’re always there for them.

Shortcomings of Conversational UI

So, what about the disadvantages? Why aren't more companies implementing conversational UI?

The short answer is — both voice and messaging AI bots are only ideal in specific situations. When customers seek simple, timely responses, chatbots are an excellent tool. However, when queries are more complex, consumers may become frustrated depending on the bot used. A user must specify what they want each step of the way. So, in that sense, conversations can become complicated.

The key here is to implement the right solution for your brand and customer base. For example, 1-800-Flowers developed a strategy that paid off. The company encourages its customers to order flowers via their chatbot, leveraging Facebook Messenger's natural language processing mechanism. Once introduced, 70% of its Messenger orders were from new customers.

To meet your customers' needs, you may need to focus on both approaches. Provide chatbots to address select situations and for customers looking for after-hour answers and updates while providing the option to speak with a human representative.

How to Use CUI in Your Business' Marketing Strategy

By 2022, it is anticipated that AI chatbots will help save businesses over $8 billion. Think of CUI as a bridge linking your products or services to your customers.

Here are just some of the applications:

  • Sales assistance

  • Customer support

  • Concierge

  • Promotions of new products or events

  • Lead generation

  • Recruitment

The beauty of conversational commerce today is that it can be tailored to meet the needs of your business and customer base. When creating your marketing strategy, you can use the power of your unique brand voice better to build the relationship between consumers and your brand. Don't be shy to inject a little personality into your chatbots while focusing on compassion and clarity!

Set goals and partner with a leader in conversational commerce, like Clickatell! Here are some additional tips to get started with conversational commerce.

Future of Chatbots

Research shows that in 2018, 15% of consumers used a chat app or messaging to make a purchase, 81% of whom would do it again! Since then, conversational UI has been on an upward trend.

The more familiar consumers become with conversational UI and the more advanced chatbots become, the more value this strategy holds. From customer service to business automation, scalability to growth, conversational commerce is here to stay.

Get Innovative with Clickatell's Solutions

In today’s digitally ruled world, innovation is the key to success! Don’t fall behind your competitors who are becoming more and more well-versed in adapting to conversational commerce. Learn more about utilizing Clickatell's solutions to improve your eCommerce business by enhancing customer experience. Our chat commerce workflow builder, Chat Flow, allows you to implement chatbot assistance right within your customers’ trusted chat app. And when paired with our Chat Desk live agent solution, it provides a seamless transition to live agent support when your consumers need additional assistance.

 Contact us to find the right solution for your business.


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