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5 Conversation Repair Tips For Successful VUI Design

designing VUI

Designing a VUI? Here are five tips to ensure your next voice-first interface is smooth sailing.

1. Onboarding is your first chance to prevent errors

Just like when meeting a person for the first time, you want to give a proper introduction. Generally, this includes their name and what what their role is, either professionally or in relation to the context that you’re meeting them in. Make sure the user knows exactly what they're getting into and what to expect from the experience.


2. Don’t just tell the user there’s been an error

Simply alerting a user that an error has occurred doesn’t tell them what happened, why it happened, or what they can do to get back on track. As a result, these declarations can feel disorienting and frustrating, and make the product feel glitchy and half-baked.

Conversation repair in the context of error recovery not only provides the user with accurate and timely alerts about what has gone wrong, but also suggests suggest solutions for any mistakes made. With solid error recovery, you are showing true compassion for your users.


3. Provide a different message if they repeat the same error

Conversation repair should become increasingly prescriptive if the user continues to encounter errors. If the user makes the same error twice, the same response isn’t going to be very helpful.

Design your conversation just as you would in a real-life interaction, where you provide more and more detailed instructions if the other person was having difficulty trying to complete.


4. Offer graceful hand-off to human help

Don’t trap your users in the voice experience. Give them a simple way out: talk to a human or exit the experience altogether.

When being passed to human help, it may not be necessary for them to be verbally connected to a human customer service rep, but could in many cases enter a chatbot help flow that is augmented with custom responses from humans on standby.


5. End with a question

Consider the behavior of a human personal assistant. You call the assistant into your office and ask them to do a task for you. They do the task and then leave the office without saying another word to you. No “goodbye” or “is that all for now?” Not even an: “is there anything else I can do for you?” That would make for a very strange interaction indeed.

When crafting your voice interaction script, provide the information or action that the user asked for, and then ask if there is anything else that you can do for them. If we’re not striving to meet user needs, then why bother?

This guest post has been lightly edited for clarity. To submit your own post to VOICE blog, send it to us here.

conversational design, Guest post

Hilary Hayes

Written by Hilary Hayes

Senior Design Researcher at Connected.

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