Chatbot Example: Finance
According to Econsultancy’s research, 28% of the senior financial industry leaders indicated that the optimisation of customer experience was the ‘single most exciting opportunity’ in 2018. That’s compared to just 18% of leaders in other industries.
The advent of Open Banking increases the realms of possibilities for finance companies and disruptive FinTechs. It demanded that the UK’s nine largest banks made their data available to vetted companies via APIs.
According to the CMA, the value proposition of open banking to consumers is significant: “open banking will mean reliable, personalised financial advice, precisely tailored to your particular circumstances delivered securely and confidentially.”
Legacy finance companies are responding to this through innovation (like adopting conversational UI) themselves or in partnership with smaller FinTechs. Many tackle the daunting task of balancing finances, payment reminders and customer services – and conversational user interface examples can help.
From FinTechs, my favourite example is Plum, available for Facebook Messenger, iOS and Android. It analyses your transactions to learn about your income/spending; then helps you save and invest in a conversational way. While it’s self-aware – i.e. explains that it’s a bot – it adds humanity via emojis and a helpful personality. Users don’t get swamped as information is ‘chunked’ into bites.
Another chatbot, Cleo offers a similar service and similarly captures the chatty, emoji-laden tone of voice that millennials enjoy. But sadly in February, it became a cautionary tale for taking the ‘personality’ aspects of conversational interfaces too far.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, a ‘savage’ mode was introduced. Users could ask for some ‘tough love’ about the state of their finances; they’d be presented with blunt facts and GIFs. But the language it was introduced with… the screenshot says it all. Do inject some personality into your bot but remember to be incredibly careful about professionalism and values!
Chatbot Example: Travel
Similarly to Finance, taking the stress out of holiday planning and budgeting offers so much opportunity for a conversational user interface. They could reveal, sort and book available dates, times and prices for a service (e.g. flights) or provide customer service after booking.
This inspired my team at our Quack Hack two years ago, when chatbots were starting to enter the market. Sifting through spreadsheets just doesn’t get the holiday vibe going. We created a proof of concept for a travel companion app called Frugl, where hunting for holidays became conversational.
We quickly built an Alexa Skill where holidaymakers could ask their voice assistants for tips on the best budget, restaurants and sights. Then, we went one step further and developed a handy tool that harnessed APIs to help users budget their holiday money by asking intelligent questions such as the size of the family, number of meals out etc. Frugl’s AI allows it to monitor currency exchange rates in real-time so users can budget their holiday on the fly.
For existing conversational user interface examples, Skyscanner was the first travel search company to integrate with Amazon Alexa. Last year, they announced their chatbots had passed one million unique traveller interactions across platforms, from Amazon Alexa to Facebook and Skype.
The Skyscanner bot in action for a traveller to Dubai (image credit).
Interestingly, an Econsultancy interview with their VP Product Management revealed that each bot platform has a different search and book pattern. For example, Facebook users are quite active on Wednesdays; Skype meanwhile, during the weekend.
Chatbot Example: Healthcare
The pursuit of ‘wellness’ dominates our culture, with many investing in wearables, supplements, remedies, mindfulness and exercise. Given the swamped nature of the NHS and cost for the USA, we all don’t get as many regular check-ups with a consistent doctor as we’d like. That’s why chatbots for this sector are so exciting – they can become that initial point of contact between doctors and patients.
The online subscription service, Babylon Health offers healthcheck consultations. By answering questions about your lifestyle and family history, it can calculate a report and give you practical tips about how to stay healthy.
If you tell the bot your symptoms, it will check against a database and provide potential causes and actions you can take. If needed, it can open a live physician consultation for you.
Chatbots could also play a significant role in mental healthcare services, due to the stigma still attached to these conditions and how stretched they are in the UK.
An example of this is WoeBot, originally built for young adults and graduate school students as age groups that are particularly at risk. It aims to provide a therapeutic experience through integrating cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mood tracking, evidence-based lessons and a simple, empathetic chat.
Stanford’s academic study even indicated the app’s effectiveness – 70 students (having up to 20 sessions) reported decreases in their anxious / depressive thoughts when compared against a control group. Healthline have a nice summary and comparison of the other mental healthcare bots available.
Lastly, we can provide a voice assistant example. Our CEO, Danny wanted to help his elderly neighbour, who regularly fell and could lay there for hours, with no way to contact friends or family. He’s not alone. Over 3.4 million people over 65 suffer a fall that causes serious injury every year. We built a proof of concept to tackle this: Jim.Care. By combining Amazon Dash buttons, Amazon Alexa and PIR sensors, the elderly can call for help when they need it.
Jim.Care is our most exciting project to date. At Cyber-Duck, we love to tackle real-life challenges that people face by providing user-focused solutions that can make a difference. This time, we were inspired by a simple statistic and a family connection.
Chatbot Example: Publishing / Content
This last example offers a slightly different experience to the others. Buoyed by the renaissance of audiobooks (mainly for the entertaining commute!), publishing companies are experimenting with new ways to engage with digital audiences.
Covered by Econsultancy, a great example comes from James Patterson, the popular thriller author. He created an ‘interactive’ taster version of his latest novel, The Chef. Users click to indicate they’d like more content, with story bites interspersed with video, photo and audio soundbites.
The story of The Chef, told through Facebook Messenger (image credit).
Across all the industries we have explored, three principles guide the best conversational user interface examples:
- Purpose – support users to achieve specific goals that fulfil both their needs and the needs of the brand.
- Intelligence – developed through a user-centred design process, it should understand a user’s situation and learn through data, errors and conversations.
- Personality – adopt a distinctive tone of voice that engages and softly encourages users.
Download our Conversational UI Guide if you’d like to understand the best user-centred process and technologies you could adopt to create your very own voice assistant or chatbot.
Please get in touch if you’d like support with conversational user interfaces. Cyber-Duck have written about chatbots for The Drum and been invited to deliver conversational interface training by Microsoft, UX Live and UX Crunch.