by Thomas Brandenburg
When done right, these thoughtfully designed conversations help lower call-volume costs, increase conversions and customer satisfaction, and, most importantly, build trust with our customers.
1. How do you explain content design to someone who is not familiar with the term?
Content design is using language to create meaningful, personal interactions with customers across all touchpoints of an experience. Content designers use words to drive emotion, knowing that our choices can make or break the entire user experience if we’re not careful. Essentially, we are experience designers. It’s just that instead of visual elements, our main tool is words.
2. How does content design fit into an end-to-end design process?
Content design should drive the end-to-end design process. When I work with design, product, and tech teams at Capital One, we ideally start our work in a Word doc (yes, you read that right–a WORD doc). We do this to orient our cross-functional team around the conversation we want to be having with our customers throughout the end-to-end experience, and then together we begin to craft how that back-and-forth might go. By talking through our designs this way, it helps us get at the core of what matters most to our customer in each moment, and forces us to make sure that we’re communicating what they need to know in a way that makes them feel confident.
Ultimately, anyone involved in creating an experience should be an expert in knowing our customers’ needs. And if we want to get to know our customers, connect with them, and solve for these needs in an understandable way, we all have to be masters of the conversation we are having with them. When done right, these thoughtfully designed conversations help lower call-volume costs, increase conversions and customer satisfaction, and, most importantly, build trust with our customers.
3. Do you think that you can design interfaces that build trust?
Absolutely. But, it isn’t easy. Just like in real life, trust is hard to earn, easy to lose, and something to never take for granted.
As designers of products and services, the one real way we can build trust with our customers is by being honest, authentic, and straightforward in our work. This intentionality will influence how we structure our designs, and how we communicate with our customers throughout an experience.
When we do it right, we demonstrate that we have our customers’ best interests at heart. It helps them believe that we care about them, because we do. That’s how relationships deepen, and trust is built.
4. Given we’re entering a new era of computing, what do you consider to be the promise of Conversational UIs?
To me, the promise of Conversational UIs lies in the ability to utilize AI technology to learn from every interaction we have with a customer. This data and intelligence enables us to embrace the natural language customers use to text, and helps us build experiences that get smarter with each interaction. We can start to design conversations that feel predictive, rather than reactive, and move beyond transactional interactions that sound robotic and cold, to contextually relevant, meaningful conversations that evoke real emotion and lead to relationships rooted in trust.
5. What excites you the most about content design, and designing conversational UIs?
This work demonstrates that design is so much more than creating beautiful, functional interfaces. This is especially true for designing conversational UIs. There is no interface in this design work — the content is the experience; words are the interface.
I love that both content design and designing for conversational UIs forces us to place our focus on essential parts of the human experience–communication, connection, understanding, and trust. There can be a fine line between an interaction where it feels like a stranger knows a little too much about you, and an interaction where you connect in a meaningful way because it feels like what you’re interacting with understands you, and has relevant context about your life. Getting this right requires us to be constantly thoughtful about how we’re communicating. It’s a fascinating, exciting design challenge.
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