Designing Omnichannel Conversations
The Future is Spoken presents Celene Osiecka as this week's guest. Celene is Conversational Designer. She has been designing conversational interfaces using emerging technologies like chatbots, AI, natural language, speech recognition, and machine learning for the last fifteen years, deploying over 500 conversational interface deployments in the financial, telecommunications, travel, retail, and education industries.
With a psychology and HCI background, she currently leads a global team of conversational designers that seeks to design innovative and ground-breaking conversational interfaces.
Celene is an experienced conversational designer and the current Practice Lead and Senior Director of Conversation Design at 24.ai. For the last fifteen year, she has been designing conversational interfaces using emerging technologies such as chatbots, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), and Machine Learning. She currently leads a global team of conversational designers that seek to deliver innovative and ground-breaking conversational interfaces for chatbots that assist consumers get things done. She has deployed over 500 conversational interface deployments in the financial, telecommunications, travel, retail, and education industries.
The episode starts with Celene discussing the differences in designing for different kinds of platforms. For example, when designing for the visual interface,Celene said, “I can dump a bunch of text on you, and although it is not a great experience, you can read all of the disclaimers. So I can design a great experience in the digital world, including all of that stuff, so [that] when a customer comes to us and gives us guidelines for what they want on their platform, we can design that.” When designing for a chatbot, she added, “[w]e develop cards that give additional information, images [...] in a conversation setting if necessary”. However, when designing for voice, Celene notes, “[t]here are no pictures that were present in the digital platform [...] there are extra steps, extra long flows, people dropping off because it's too much of a cognitive load [...] If you can overcome those challenges and design for voice, designing digitally becomes easy.”
Celene also touched on the future of voice design and how voice is trending towards a mixed modality of features instead of just voice: “Usually, what we will try to do is that if the user is using an IVR [Interactive Voice Response] on their mobile device, we will send a link to pop out a visual with information.” She goes on to say, “I do see that although we could stay with just voice, and sometimes we need to, as there are use cases where we just need voice, we will always have to design for and take advantage of the opportunities when the user can use their eyes or other gestures”. Celene gives the compelling example of how people with speech or hearing disabilities can’t use these voice-only products. “We can’t force people into a hole that they either don’t want to, or can’t be in.”
Celene also describes how designing a chatbot to be as human as possible is hard, but gives important guidance on how to both manage expectations for the customer, as well as increase the quality of the bot itself. “[The customers] talk like search engines, like google, or they tell you [the bot] their whole life story because they think that the bot is a real person, [but] the bot can’t handle either one. The key is to have the customer speak naturally, while knowing it’s a bot. The welcome message is so important for a bot because it tells the customer what to expect from the bot.”
Celene also touched on how conversational design has helped retailers and companies during the pandemic, the testing process for chatbots and voice assistants, and much more in this in-depth conversation.
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[00:25] Celene's journey of being a conversation designer
● Celene explains how she got into conversation designing when people didn't even know what chatbots were.
● She started doing everything and then as the company grew, they scaled up. She began to specialize, instead of looking at everything.
[03:00] Designing a digital world
● Celene touches on the key differences and commonalities that she saw while working for different platforms. She further explains her transition to Voice-based designing and how she missed many things that used to have earlier.
● A whole new realm of challenges came up when she went from Digital to Voice-based designing.
[06:30] What is the future of voice designing?
● She introduces us to the importance of IVR in designing the future of Voice. Celene also puts the light on the Voice's incompetence and explains how Voice can never rule the entire path.
● "We can't force people into a role that they don't either want to be in depending on what their situation is."
[12:10] How automation is helping many companies in this COVID scenario?
● Celene speaks about the need for automation in the present world. She also touches on how different companies are benefiting from Bots and Voice technologies.
[18:08] How can we design a solution that can enable people to use more virtual assistant services?
[21:42] What are the similarities while designing a Bot?
[24:03] What about testing?
● Celene elaborates on the differences she faced while testing the Bots for different companies. She also divulges on the rigorous testing process for the financial companies, and their hesitancy to go live.
● She also speaks about the frequency of testing their technology and her experiences using different testing methods.
[31:53] Making the assistants as human as possible!
● Celene shares her experience about ensuring to cover up most of the utterances to make the assistants as natural as possible.
● She also elaborates on the importance of data and how it helps build a better version of assistants while speaking about some rare scenarios when no data is available.
Learn more about Celene at
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