The ROI of Good Conversational UX
When I first joined the Voxable team, it was a crash course in conversational AI. Sure, I had set up and interacted with my 1st generation Echo (mostly to play music), and I periodically asked Siri questions (which often ended in using my phone’s browser to find an answer); but by no means did I understand what was required to produce even the most basic voice and chat experiences.
In 2017, the hype of the conversational app being “the next big thing” led me to Voxable. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but I knew I wanted in. I’d like to believe my lack of technical knowledge helped the team as we reworked our marketing strategy and business approach in those early days. If I didn't understand certain terminology, how would our clients? How could we translate the process of building bleeding-edge technology into layman’s terms to convey the software’s opportunities and limitations?
After some time immersing myself in the conversational AI landscape, it became clear that I had aligned myself with founders who 1) really knew their shit and 2) believed technology— specifically, conversational technology—could improve the world. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one to recognize their talent and passion. We began to see a steady stream of clients and establish ourselves as thought leaders in the community. It was then that we realized scaling our vision would require a transition away from consulting services.
Working in tech for over a decade, Voxable’s CEO and lead conversation designer Lauren Golembiewski, along with CTO Matt Buck, saw the direct correlation between design and software quality. They emphasized the importance of conversation design to Voxable’s clients through workshops and at global conversational AI conferences. Lauren has written extensively about design and designers in the voice and chat space. It's only fitting the product the Voxable team decided to build was a conversation design platform.
While Lauren and Matt saw the opportunity of our product from the perspective of users, I saw the opportunity of our product from the perspective of business owners. Why is conversation design important to companies? Because improving conversation design directly affects their bottom lines.
Customer Acquisition & Retention
Numerous studies have been conducted that prove good user experience (UX) translates to good business. Fast Company published a widely-quoted article about the return on investment (ROI) of UX positing, “Every dollar spent on UX brings in between $2 and $100 dollars in return.” So what’s the key to achieving good UX?
Think about it this way: in an increasingly digital world—especially during and post pandemic—many customers' primary way of interacting with companies is online. The digital storefront has become the storefront. Since every store is at your fingertips and many offer similar products and services, UX is now the differentiator. Website and app design is akin to in-store merchandising back in the day. If the experience in the “store” is bad, the customer won’t buy as much from a company, or maybe won’t buy anything at all, or even return in the future. A study by Gomez found that 88% of online consumers are less likely to interact with a brand after a bad user experience. It’s essential to companies’ bottom lines for them to get the experience right the first time or customers are going to walk out the proverbial door.
Now let’s extrapolate that to voice and chat apps. The conversational AI industry is growing rapidly and projected to be a $31.8 billion market by 2025. The pandemic has only increased the demand for touchless tech, so that figure may be low. To meet the demand, there’s been a surge in companies hiring employees and agencies to build their voice and chat experiences. Yet, despite recent excitement about and growth in the conversational space, conversational UX for consumers is still largely poor.
Poor voice and chat app UX is universal. So much so it’s the punchline in TV ads. I own a conversational AI business and still prefer to speak to a human over a machine in most instances when I need to get something done. After seeing first-hand what well-designed voice and chat apps can do and how useful they can be, I can confidently say our collective disappointment in this technology is due to company stakeholders’ lack of perceived value in conversation design. What wasted potential!
Companies see the opportunity of conversational AI, but have been slow to invest in what will differentiate their voice or chat app from others. That’s understandable, as there aren’t many conversation design resources or tools on the market (yet!). But, as has been proven throughout the history of websites and apps, the companies that invest in improving UX will be the ones to capture exponential ROI. All these companies are missing is a platform to invest in that streamlines conversation design and makes it easier for the folks building this technology to focus on what matters most: user experience.
Looking at companies’ bottom lines from a different angle, our focus turns to optimizing costs. Although it gets a bad rap, cost optimization is essential to the ongoing success of a business and can help safeguard the business in “unprecedented” times when revenues are unpredictable or non-existent. One of the most effective and universally-approved ways for companies to optimize costs is to improve efficiency. Companies invest millions in platforms and tools that help simplify processes and communication because the ROI in such investments has been proven time and again. Due to companies’ massive spending on enterprise software, those that optimize software costs can have a huge competitive advantage. From the business perspective: process efficiency improves productivity and productivity improves output. From the employee perspective: process efficiency improves productivity and productivity improves personal well-being. Win-win.
Why work harder when you can work smarter?
Throughout history, many of the best products were conceived out of humanity’s desire to improve processes and born from the inventor’s specific needs. The same is true today, although the advancements in technology have shifted many inventors’ concentration to bettering the digital world. This is Voxable’s origin story.
As conversational AI consultants, the majority of the our work centered around teaching enterprise teams our conversation design process or completing conversation designs for them. These companies were ahead of the game in realizing the importance of conversational UX and investing in it, but their teams faced the same frustrating inefficiencies in the process as we did. Before the Voxable product, individuals and teams building voice and chat apps used no less than three tools to adequately document and test their conversation designs.
- Word processor - Conversational scripts
- Diagramming tool - Conversational flow maps
- Prototyping tool - Usability tests
It’s difficult enough for one person to maintain a design’s consistency across all those tools, but for teams—especially those working on large, multimodal interfaces—it’s nearly impossible. The simpler, more efficient solution is to combine all of those functionalities into one collaborative conversation design platform. If users can script, diagram, test, and collaborate within one platform, they can produce and iterate on conversation designs much more quickly. And we all know, time is money.
To quantify the opportunity here, let’s say an all-in-one conversation design platform saves a conversation designer an average of 30-minutes a day. If that conversation designer’s salary is $100,000 per year, the savings equates to 130 productive hours or about $6,500. Now extend that savings across an entire design team and any of their collaborators (i.e. developers, content writers, marketers, researchers, product managers, stakeholders, etc.). From our experience as consultants, we estimate enterprise teams waste at least $175,000 per year on each inefficiently designed voice or chat app.
Besides the time saved, an all-in-one platform also frees up designers’ cognitive load, which can improve the quality of their output. Rather than worrying about translating designs across multiple tools and formatting them to be easily digested by developers and stakeholders, designers can rely on the platform. Automating the tedious work gives designers the mental capacity to explore more options and create better solutions; it gives teams the space to innovate and find new valuable avenues of business. And, to bring it full-circle, good design translates to good conversational UX, which translates to good business.
So, what’s our role in all this? We’re creating the first conversation design platform for teams that want to build better voice and chat apps. With Voxable, users can script, diagram, test, and collaborate on conversation designs all in one place. We want to streamline conversation design and give teams building conversational technology a single source of truth for their apps. Our goal is to advance the conversational AI industry to the point where voice and chat experiences are no longer limited or frustrating, but intuitive and useful. And we believe good design is the solution.
If you want to be an early user of Voxable and help us shape our product into the best conversation design platform it can be, sign up for our beta.