The company: Voiceflow
Voiceflow is a visual design tool for conversational AI teams. It helps them design, prototype, and launch conversational interfaces across just about any channel—everything from those interactive voice response (IVR) phone systems we all know and (rarely) love, to web, chat, voice assistants, in-car, mobile apps, drive-thrus, and more.
Why you should pay attention
With the prevalence of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and all the rest, conversational AI is everywhere. It now powers trillions of conversations every year for things like customer support, simple transactions, and information gathering. All types of companies—not just tech giants—are investing in a new generation of conversation designers to help them meet user expectations, reduce costs, and extend their brand persona with innovative, flexible experiences.
In fact, the voice assistant application market is projected to grow to $11.2 billion by 2026 while the global conversational AI market size should reach $18.4 billion in that same time. However, traditional tools in this space were developed for designing automated call flows in 90s-era call centers. Their overly complex approaches simply didn’t cut it once COVID sent every consumer brand scrambling to reinvent and launch new digital experiences last year.
Voiceflow recognized this problem early on and created a modern creative platform in 2019 to help conversational AI teams work together, design great conversations, and iterate quickly. This year, over 80,000 designers, developers, and teams—at businesses like McDonald’s, Google, Spotify, Ford, Motorola, Amazon, BMW, and US Bank—generated more than 550 million conversational interactions using Voiceflow. It’s helping unify their design and prototyping workflows so they can easily launch banking assistants, IVR experiences, entertainment applications, games, support bots, and other live experiences for end users.
How it works
Voiceflow empowers teams to design, prototype, and launch chat and voice bots across channels like IVR, messenger, Alexa, Google Assistant, and web chat. Conversational AI designers can use Voiceflow’s intuitive, drag-and-drop visual editor to connect steps and blocks together and create sophisticated conversation designs in minutes. The system also provides shared team workspaces, auto-syncing and versioning, reusable components and templates, and omni-channel management tools.
This gives people at every level of technical expertise a visual way to build, test, and manage great conversations. Some customers also leverage Voiceflow’s open source API to support their full design-to-development pipeline for launching and actually hosting conversation experiences across any channel.
Why we’re obsessed
Voiceflow is on a mission to democratize conversational AI by creating a modern collaboration platform for these interfaces. And it’s working. The market is growing exponentially and more people are dedicating their careers to the space (Voiceflow’s user base grew by 60% this year alone). Conversation designers love having Voiceflow in their tech stack because it is legitimizing the tactics, methodologies, and industry standards for conversation design.
Customers like Home Depot have touted amazing results, such as scaling user testing from 12 tests to 300 in one week. In addition, Voiceflow has cultivated an active global community of 8,000 (and growing) conversation designers who now have a forum where they can connect with each other, up-level their skills, swap best practices, or recruit top talent in this emerging discipline.
Company founders Braden Ream, Andrew Lawrence, Michael Hood, and Tyler Han joined forces back in 2018 to create a fun choose-your-own-adventure children’s stories app for Alexa, but quickly pivoted when they realized how difficult it was to collaborate in the world of nonlinear conversations. Their timing couldn’t have been better, since the pandemic brought these types of high ROI, socially distanced customer experiences to the top of every CTO’s priority list. And as the company has scaled rapidly to meet this demand, its founders are building a diverse, global team with a culture of creativity, curiosity, and owners.
If you have a conversational AI team that could benefit from easier collaboration, be sure to have them check out Voiceflow to start building for free.