Conversational interfaces

Conversational design is a hot topic. Most of the talk is about chatbots which is too narrow a view of the topic. More broadly we should be thinking about taking the paradigm of conversation and understanding how that might be a better interface to our business, products or services.

Contact centres are, of course, an example of a conversational interface to your business. Face to face meetings likewise. Chatbots can be, if done well.

Messaging as an interface

At Guild we are particularly interested in messaging-based conversations as the interaction layer. It is early days for services like WhatsApp Business or Apple's Business Chat but we expect those to change behaviours such that it will become normal, indeed expected, that you can interact with a business via messaging.

Making technology decisions

As with any technology decision you will need to work out whether you build your own solution, buy someone else's and integrate it, or 'rent' from a SaaS (Software as a Service) provider.

In most cases it makes little sense to build your own tech. Big-platform players like WhatsApp are not going to provide integration or any level of customisation or support. So most likely you will extend an existing system to add messaging functionality, integrate a white-label solution, or use a SaaS platform like Guild.

Privacy and data

In the wake of GDPR, and for the sake of privacy and data compliance in general, you will need to consider where the data flows between systems and who owns/controls it. Whilst there are advantages to integrating systems it also makes data governance much more complex, and potentially onerous (e.g if asked to fulfil a subject access request).

Conversational architectures

For system, information and data architecture purposes you will need to map out your conversational architecture. Where do your conversations 'live'? How do they interface with other systems and data? What level of integration is there?

Below is a simple visualisation of how Guild acts as a conversational layer for professional groups that links into, rather than directly integrates with, other systems:

conv-arch

Engage emotionally as well as productively

Tools like Guild fulfil the need for conversation as an emotional engagement interface. Every business needs practical workflow and management tools to run smoothly, and developments in technology have optimized these. But the world of work is yet to properly exploit the timeless currency of conversation via optimized digital interfaces. To make human interaction powerfully interactive and improve engagement, loyalty, and experience.