What is a Conversational User Interface (CUI)? (2023)

The Evolution of the CUI

In many industries, customers and employees need access to relevant, contextual information that is quick and convenient. Conversational User Interfaces (CUIs) enable direct, human-like engagement with computers. It completely transforms the way we interact with systems and applications.

CUIs are becoming an increasingly popular tool, which the likes of Amazon, Google Facebook, and Apple, have incorporated into their platforms. With the right approach, you can do the same.

Table of contents

  • What is a Conversational User Interface?
  • How Do CUIs Work?
  • Types of Conversational User Interfaces
  • Business Use Cases
  • Benefits of Conversational UI
  • Conversational UI Challenges
  • The Future of Conversational UI
  • Checklist for Making a Great Conversational UI for your Applications
  • Conclusion
What is a Conversational User Interface (CUI)? (1)

What is Conversational User Interface?

A Conversational User Interface (CUI) is an interface that enables computers to interact with people using voice or text, and mimics real-life human communication. With the help of Natural-Language Understanding (NLU), the technology can recognize and analyze conversational patterns to interpret human speech. The most widely known examples are voice assistants like Siri and Alexa.

Voice interactions can take place via the web, mobile, desktop applications, depending on the device. A unifying factor between the different mediums used to facilitate voice interactions is that they should be easy to use and understand, without a learning curve for the user. It should be as easy as making a call to customer service or asking your colleague to do a task for you. CUIs are essentially a built-in personal assistant within existing digital products and services.

In the past, users didn’t have the option to simply tell a bot what to do. Instead, they had to search for information in the graphical user interface (GUI) – writing specific commands or clicking icons. Past versions of CUI consisted of messenger-like conversations, for example, where bots responded to customers in real-time with rigidly spelled-out scripts.

But now it has evolved into a more versatile, adaptive product that is getting hard to distinguish from actual human interaction.

The technology behind the conversational interface can both learn and self-teach, which makes it a continually evolving, intelligent mechanism.

What is a Conversational User Interface (CUI)? (2)

How Do CUIs Work?

CUI is capable of generating complex, insightful responses. It has long outgrown the binary nature of previous platforms and can articulate messages, ask questions, and even demonstrate curiosity.

Previously, command line interfaces required users to input precise commands using exact syntax, which was then improved with graphical interfaces. Instead of having people learn how to communicate with UI, Conversational UI has been taught how to understand people.

The core technology is based on:

  • Natural Language Processing – NLP combines linguistics, computer science, information engineering, and artificial intelligence to create meaning from user input. It can process the structure of natural human language and handle complex requests.
  • Natural Language Understanding – NLU is considered a subtopic of natural language processing and is narrower in purpose. But the line between them is not distinct, and they are mutually beneficial. By combining their efforts, they reinterpret user intent or continue a line of questioning to gather more context.

For example, let’s take a simple request, such as:

I need to book a hotel room in New York from January 10th to the 15th.”

(Video) Sense.AI.tion GmbH - Conversational User Interface (CUI)

In order to act on this request, the machine needs to dissect the phrase into smaller subsets of information: book a hotel room (intent) – New York (city) – January 10 (date) – January 15 (date) – overall neutral sentiment.

Conversational UI has to remember and apply previously given context to the subsequent requests. For example, a person may ask about the population of France. CUI provides an answer to that question. Then, if the next phrase is “Who is the president?”, the bot should not require more clarification since it assigns the context from the new request.

In modern software and web development, interactive conversational user interface applications typically consist of the following components:

  • Voice recognition (also referred to as speech-to-text) – A computer or mobile device captures what a person says with a microphone and transcribes it into text. Then the mechanism combines knowledge of grammar, language structure, and the composition of audio signals to extract information for further processing. To achieve the best level of accuracy possible, it should be continuously updated and refined.
  • NLU – The complexity of human speech makes it harder for the computer to decipher the request. NLU handles unstructured data and converts it into a structured format so that the input can be understood and acted upon. It connects various requests to specific intent and translates them into a clear set of steps.
  • Dictionary/samples – People are not as straightforward as computers and often use a variety of ways to communicate the same message. For this reason, CUI needs to have a comprehensive set of examples for each intent. For example, the request “Book Flight”, the dictionary should contain “I need a flight”, “I want to book my travel”, along with all other variants.
  • Context – An example with the French president above showed that in a series of questions and answers, CUI needs to make a connection between them. These days, UIs tend to implement an event-driven contextual approach, which accommodates an unstructured conversational flow.
  • Business logic – Lastly, the CUI business logic connects to specific use cases to define the rules and limitations of a particular tool.
What is a Conversational User Interface (CUI)? (3)

Types of Conversational User Interfaces

We can distinguish two distinct types of Conversational UI designs. There are bots that you interact with in the text form, and there are voice assistants that you talk to. Bear in mind that there are so-called “chatbots” that merely use this term as a buzzword. These fake chatbots are a regular point-and-click graphical user interface disguising and advertising itself as a CUI. What we’ll be looking at are two categories of conversational interfaces that don’t rely on syntax specific commands.


Chatbots have been in existence for a long time. For example, there was a computer program ELIZA that dates back to the 1960s. But only with recent advancements in machine learning, artificial intelligence and NLP, have chatbots started to make a real contribution in solving user problems.

Since most people are already used to messaging, it takes little effort to send a message to a bot. A chatbot usually takes the form of a messenger inside an app or a specialized window on a web browser. The user describes whatever problem they have or asks questions in written form. The chatbots ask follow-up questions or meaningful answers even without exact commands.

Voice recognition systems

Voice User Interfaces (VUI) operate similarly to chatbots but communicate with users through audio. They are hitting the mainstream at a similar pace as chatbots and are becoming a staple in how people use smartphones, TVs, smart homes, and a range of other products.

Users can ask a voice assistant for any information that can be found on their smartphones, the internet, or in compatible apps. Depending on the type of voice system and how advanced it is, it may require specific actions, prompts or keywords to activate. The more products and services are connected to the system, the more complex and versatile the assistant becomes.

What is a Conversational User Interface (CUI)? (4)

Business Use Cases

Chatbots and Voice UIs are gaining a foothold in many important industries. These industries are finding new ways to include conversational UI solutions. Its abilities extend far beyond what now dated, in-dialog systems, could do. Here are several areas where these solutions can make an impressive impact.

Retail and e-commerce

A CUI can provide updates on purchases, billing, shipping, address customer questions, navigate through the websites or apps, offer products or service information, along with many other use cases. This is an automated way of personalizing communication with your customers without involving your employees.

Construction sector

Architects, engineers, and construction workers often need to review manuals and other text chunks, which can be assisted by CUI. Applications are diverse: contractor, warehouse, and material details, team performance, machinery management, among others.

(Video) Applications of Easy Conversational User Interface (CUI) | Voice Commands Like Alexa & Siri

First Responders

Increasing response speed is essential for first responders. CUIcan never replace live operators, but it can help improve outcomes in crises by assessing incidents by location, urgency level, and other parameters.


Medical professionals have a limited amount of time and a lot of patients. Chatbots and voice assistants can facilitate the health monitoring of patients, management of medical institutes and outpatient centers, self-service scheduling, and public awareness announcements.

Banking, financial services, and insurance

Conversational interfaces can assist users in account management, reporting lost cards, and other simple tasks and financial operations. It can also help with customer support queries in real-time; plus, it facilitates back-office operations.

Smart homes and IoT

People are starting to increasingly use smart-home connected devices more often. The easiest way to operate them is through vocal commands. Additionally, you can simplify user access to smart vehicles (open the car, plan routes, adjust the temperature).

What is a Conversational User Interface (CUI)? (5)

Benefits of Conversational UI

The primary advantage of Conversational UI is that it helps fully leverage the inherent efficiency of spoken language. In other words, it facilitates communication requiring less effort from users. Below are some of the benefits that attract so many companies to CUI implementations.


Communicating with technology using human language is easier than learning and recalling other methods of interaction. Users can accomplish a task through the channel that’s most convenient to them at the time, which often happens to be through voice. CUI is a perfect option when users are driving or operating equipment.


Voice is an incredibly efficient tool – in almost every case, it is easier and faster to speak rather than to use touch or type. Voice is designed to streamline certain operations and make them less time consuming. For example, CUI can increase productivity by taking over the following tasks:

  • Create, assign, and update tasks
  • Facilitate communication between enterprises and customers, enterprises and employees, users and devices
  • Make appointments, schedule events, manage bookings
  • Deliver search results
  • Retrieve reports


Many existing applications are already designed to have an intuitive interface. However, conversational interfaces require even less effort to get familiar with because speaking is something everyone does naturally. Voice-operated technologies become a seamless part of a users’ daily life and work.

Since these tools have multiple variations of voice requests, users can communicate with their device as they would with a person. Obviously, it’s something everyone is accustomed to. As a result, it improves human-computer interactivity.


When integrating CUI into your existing product, service, or application, you can decide how to present information to users. You can create unique experiences with questions or statements, use input and context in different ways to fit your objectives.

Additionally, people are hard-wired to equate the sound of human speech with personality. Businesses get the opportunity to demonstrate the human side of their brand. They can tweak the pace, tone, and other voice attributes, which affect how consumers perceive the brand.

(Video) Digital Experiences Using a Conversational Interface

Better use of resources

You can maximize your staff skills by directing some tasks to CUI. Since employees are no longer needed for some routine tasks (e.g., customer support or lead qualification), they can focus on higher-value customer engagements.

As for end-users, this technology allows them to make the most out of their time. When used correctly, CUI allows users to invoke a shortcut with their voice instead of typing it out or engaging in a lengthy conversation with a human operator.

Available 24/7

There are restrictions no when you can use CUI. Whether it’s first responders looking for the highest priority incidents or customers experiencing common issues, their inquiry can be quickly resolved.

No matter what industry the bot or voice assistant is implemented in, most likely, businesses would rather avoid delayed responses from sales or customer service. It also eliminates the need to have around-the-clock operators for certain tasks.

What is a Conversational User Interface (CUI)? (6)

Conversational UI Challenges

Designing a coherent conversational experience between humans and computers is complex. There are inherent drawbacks in how well a machine can maintain a conversation. Moreover, the lack of awareness of computer behavior by some users might make conversational interactions harder.

Here are some major challenges that need to be solved in design, as well as less evident considerations:

  • Accuracy level – The CUI translates sentences into virtual actions. In order to accurately understand a single request and a single intent, it has to recognize multiple variations of it. With more complex requests, there are many parameters involved, and it becomes a very time-consuming part of building the tool.
  • Implicit requests – If users don’t say their request explicitly, they might not get the expected results. For example, you could say, “Do the math” to a travel agent, but a conversational UI will not be able to unpack the phrase. It is not necessarily a major flaw, but it is one of the unavoidable obstacles.
  • Specific use cases – There are many use cases you need to predefine. Even if you break them down into subcategories, the interface will be somewhat limited to a particular context. It works perfectly well for some applications, whereas in other cases, it will pose a challenge.
  • Cognitive load – Users may find it difficult to receive and remember long pieces of information if a voice is all they have as an output. At the very least, it will require a decent degree of concentration to comprehend a lot of new information by ear.
  • Discomfort of talking in public – Some people prefer not to share information when everyone within earshot can hear them. So, there should be other options for user input in case they don’t want to do it through voice.
  • Language restrictions – If you want the solution to support international users, you will need a CUI capable of conversing in different languages. Some assets may not be suitable for reuse, so it might require complete rebuilds to make sure different versions coexist seamlessly.
  • Regulations protecting data – Making sure interactions are personalized, you may need to retrieve and store data about your users. There are concerns about how organizations can make it comply with regulation and legislation. It is not impossible but demands attention.

These challenges are important to understand when developing a specific conversational UI design. A lot can be learned from past experiences, which makes it possible to prevent these gaps from reaching their full potential.

What is a Conversational User Interface (CUI)? (7)

The Future of Conversational UI

The chatbot and voice assistant market is expected to grow, both in the frequency of use and complexity of the technology. Some predictions for the coming years show that more and more users and enterprises are going to adopt them, which will unravel opportunities for even more advanced voice technology.

Going into more specific forecasts, the chatbots market is estimated to display a high growth continuing its trajectory since 2016. This expected growth is attributed to the increased use of mobile devices and the adoption of cloud infrastructure and related technologies.

As for the future of voice assistants, the global interest is also expected to rise. The rise of voice control in the internet of things, adoption of smart home technologies, voice search mobile queries, and demand for self-service applications might become key drivers for this development. Plus, the awareness of voice technologies is growing, as is the number of people who would choose a voice over the old ways of communicating.

Naturally, increased consumption goes hand-in-hand with the need for more advanced technologies. Currently, users should be relatively precise when interacting with CUI and keep their requests unambiguous. However, future UIs might head toward the principle of teaching the technology to conform to user requirements rather than the other way around. It would mean that users will be able to operate applications in ways that suits them most with no learning curve.

(Video) Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Conversation Design - Cathy Pearl, Google

If the CUI platform finds the user’s request vague and can’t convert it into an actionable parameter, it will ask follow-up questions. It will drastically widen the scope of conversational technologies, making it more adaptable to different channels and enterprises. Less effort required for CUI will result in better convenience for users, which is perhaps the ultimate goal.

The reuse of conversational data will also help to get inside the minds of customers and users. That information can be used to further improve the conversational system as part of the closed-loop machine learning environment.

What is a Conversational User Interface (CUI)? (8)

Checklist for Making a Great Conversational UI for your Applications

There are plenty of reasons to add conversational interfaces to websites, applications, and marketing strategies. Voice AI platforms like Alan, makes adding a CUI to your existing application or service simple. However, even if you are certain that installing CUI will improve the way your service works, you need to plan ahead and follow a few guidelines.

Here are steps to adopt our conversational interface with proper configuration:

  1. Define your goals for CUI –The key factor in building a useful tool is to decide which user problem it is going to address.
  2. Design the flow of a conversation – Think of how communication with the bot should go – greeting, how it’s going to determine user needs, what options it’s going to suggest, and possible conversation outcomes.
  3. Provide alternative statements– As you know, users frame their requests in different ways, sometimes using slang, so you need to include different types of words that the bot will use to recognize the intent.
  4. Set statements to trigger some sort of action so that it can make a corresponding API call. What does a user have to say to make the bot respond appropriately for the situation? It is useful to use word tokenization to assign meaning at this point.
  5. Add visual and textual clues and hints– If a user feels lost, guide them through other mediums (other than voice). This way, you will improve the discoverability of your service.
  6. Make sure there are no conversational dead ends – Bot misunderstandings should trigger a fallback message like “Sorry, I didn’t get that”. Essentially, don’t leave the user waiting without providing any feedback.

Overall, you should research how CUI can support users, which will help you decide on a type of CUI and map their journey through the application. It will help you efficiently fulfill the user’s needs,

keep them loyal to the product or service, and simplify their daily tasks.

Additionally, create a personality for your bot or assistant to make it natural and authentic. It can be a fictional character or even something that is now trying to mimic a human – let it be the personality that will make the right impression for your specific users.

What is a Conversational User Interface (CUI)? (9)


A good, adaptable conversational bot or voice assistant should have a sound, well-thought-out personality, which can significantly improve the user experience. The quality of UX affects how efficiently users can carry out routine operations within the website, service, or application.

In fact, any bot can make a vital contribution to different areas of business. For many tasks, just the availability of a voice-operated interface can increase productivity and drive more users to your product. Many people can’t stand interacting over the phone – whether it’s to report a technical issue, make a doctor’s appointment, or call a taxi.

A significant portion of everyday responsibilities, such as call center operations, are inevitably going to be taken over by technology – partially or fully. The question is not if but when your business will adopt Conversational User Interfaces.


What is CUI explain? ›

A Conversational User Interface (CUI) is an interface that enables computers to interact with people using voice or text, and mimics real-life human communication. With the help of Natural-Language Understanding (NLU), the technology can recognize and analyze conversational patterns to interpret human speech.

What is conversational interface? ›

A conversational user interface (CUI) is a user interface for computers that emulates a conversation with a real human.

What is an example of conversational UI? ›

There are a few main types of conversational UI: Chatbots: rely mostly on text. Voice assistants: work with voice commands (like Alexa, Google Assistant) Conversational apps: leverage the user interfaces of popular messaging apps.

Why CUI is used? ›


Its main task is to simplify user interaction with the product using voice interfaces and messengers. CUI is used for creating chatbots and voice assistants to give them “humanity”. Nowadays, hardly anyone uses these principles as most people set up interaction scenarios intuitively.

What is not an example of CUI? ›

Put simply, any information classified under Executive Order No. 13526 and the Atomic Energy Act cannot be considered CUI. In other words, any classified information labeled “classified,” “secret,” or “top-secret” cannot be designated as CUI.

Which of the following is CUI based operating system? ›

Answer. Answer: MS DOS is CUI based Operating System.

What is conversational design? ›

Conversation design is the discipline of defining the purpose, experience, and interactions of a conversational interface before it's built. Whether you're a product owner, design leader, or a developer, it can be beneficial to understand the design process and challenges that are unique to conversational AI.

Is graphical user interface? ›

graphical user interface (GUI), a computer program that enables a person to communicate with a computer through the use of symbols, visual metaphors, and pointing devices.

How many types of user interfaces are there? ›

There are four prevalent types of user interface and each has a range of advantages and disadvantages: Command Line Interface. Menu-driven Interface. Graphical User Interface.

Why is CUI better than GUI? ›

Answer: A GUI can display graphics, symbols and other visual cues as opposed to strictly text, unlike the CUI. GUIs are much easier to navigate, as they make the use of a mouse possible. Therefore GUI is more popular than CUI.

What is main difference between CUI and GUI? ›

Differences between CUI and GUI are as follows:CUIGUICUI stands for Character User Interface. GUI stands for Graphical User Interface.In CUI user interacts with applications by making use of commands.In GUI user interacts with applications by making use of graphics. Only one task can run at a time.

What's an example of CUI? ›

Examples of CUI would include any personally identifiable information such as legal material or health documents, technical drawings and blueprints, intellectual property, as well as many other types of data. The purpose of the rule is to make sure that all organizations are handling the information in a uniform way.

How do you identify CUI? ›

Labeled information. Some types of information are simple to identify as CUI. “Export control” includes any information that is subject to export control, such as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR)—this would be CUI.

What is CUI give example of CUI? ›

Short for character user interface or command-line user interface, CUI is a way for users to interact with computer programs. It works by allowing the user (client) to issue commands as one or more lines of text (referred to as command lines) to a program. Good examples CUIs are MS-DOS and the Windows Command Prompt.

What are the two types of computer user interface? ›

The various types of user interfaces include: graphical user interface (GUI) command line interface (CLI)

Which of the following is an example of CUI Mcq? ›

Windows is a CUI operating system. Windows is based on CUI.

Is Windows 11 CUI or GUI? ›

The latest version of Windows OS Is Windows 11. It is a GUI.

› Encyclopedia › C ›

Definition of CUI

https://www.pcmag.com › Encyclopedia › C
https://www.pcmag.com › Encyclopedia › C
(Character-based User Interface) A method for interacting with the computer that displays a fixed set of rows and columns on screen with monospaced characters a...
Character User Interface (CUI) is a kind of user interface that uses only alphanumeric characters and pseudographics for input-output and presentation of inform...

What's an example of CUI? ›

Examples of CUI would include any personally identifiable information such as legal material or health documents, technical drawings and blueprints, intellectual property, as well as many other types of data. The purpose of the rule is to make sure that all organizations are handling the information in a uniform way.

What is CUI give example of CUI? ›

Short for character user interface or command-line user interface, CUI is a way for users to interact with computer programs. It works by allowing the user (client) to issue commands as one or more lines of text (referred to as command lines) to a program. Good examples CUIs are MS-DOS and the Windows Command Prompt.

What is controlled unclassified information CUI basic? ›

Controlled unclassified information is a category of information defined by the U.S. federal government. Abbreviated as CUI and often pronounced “kyooie” (rhymes with “phooey”), controlled unclassified information is government-owned data that requires certain security controls to safeguard it from unauthorized access.

Who protects CUI? ›

Keeping CUI, or Controlled Unclassified Information, protected is the reason regulations such as CMMC and NIST 800-171 exist. But who is responsible for protecting CUI? Ultimately, the Department of Defense (DoD) is in charge of safeguarding classified national security information.

What are the 6 categories of CUI? ›

What are examples of CUI?
  • Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (SPII)
  • Proprietary Business Information (PBI) or currently known within EPA as Confidential Business Information (CBI)
  • Unclassified Controlled Technical Information (UCTI)
  • Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU)
30 Jun 2022

How do you identify CUI? ›

Labeled information. Some types of information are simple to identify as CUI. “Export control” includes any information that is subject to export control, such as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR)—this would be CUI.

How do you store information in CUI? ›

CUI must be stored in controlled environments that prevent or detect unauthorized access. Printed CUI documents must be protected by at least one physical barrier, such as a cover sheet or a locked bin/cabinet.

Where is CUI used? ›

CUI is precursor of GUI and was used in most primitive computers. Most modern computers use GUI and not CUI. Eg: MS-DOS has CUI.

Which of the following is not a correct way to store CUI? ›

CUI should not be stored on personal systems. Printing and hard copy storage should be kept to a minimum.

What is CUI basic answers? ›

CUI Basic is the subset of CUI for which the authorizing law, regulation, or government-wide policy does not set out specific handling or dissemination controls. Agencies handle CUI Basic according to the uniform set of controls set forth in DODI 5200.48 and the DOD CUI Registry.

How does CUI protect data? ›

CUI must be stored or handled in controlled environments that prevent or detect unauthorized access. Limit and control access to CUI within the workforce by establishing electronic barriers. When Reproducing or Faxing CUI, you may use agency-approved equipment. Look for signs on approved equipment.

How many CUI categories are there? ›

CUI Categories

There are 125 categories of CUI, as outlined by NARA and highlighted in DoDI 5200.48. The categories are broken down under 20 organizational index groupings (OIG). The separate OIGs outline what area the categories of information fall under.

Can CUI be stored in a locked desk? ›

After working hours, CUI will be stored in unlocked containers, desks, or cabinets if the government building provides security for continuous monitoring of access. If building security is not provided, the information will be stored in locked desks, file cabinets, bookcases, locked rooms, or similarly secured areas.

How do you mark a CUI in an email? ›

The CUI banner marking must appear, at a minimum, at the top center of each page containing CUI. of either “CONTROLLED” or “CUI.” Markings are separated by two forward slashes (//). When including multiple categories they are separated by a single forward slash (/).

Can CUI be taken home? ›

CUI Markings can be removed (or stuck through) when the information has been decontrolled. Decontrolling occurs when an authorized holder, consistent with 32 CFR 2002 and the CUI Registry, removes safeguarding or dissemination controls from CUI that no longer require such controls.


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