Conversational Customer Interaction: Dialog between Industry and Academia


Many companies increasingly use conversational user interfaces (CUI) to support customer interaction, for example, in customer service or e-commerce. This trend has accelerated during the Coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, the design and use of these interfaces are important research areas in the information systems (IS) field. In industry and research, systems that build on CUIs have taken many different forms: text-based chatbots, voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri, or multimodal 3D avatars. However, despite the ongoing technical advances in the field of artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction, these interfaces are mostly used by companies for rather simple tasks (e.g., answering frequently asked questions in customer service). More complex tasks, such as order processing in e-commerce or a product search, are currently not very common.

The goal of this workshop is thus to present and discuss innovative practical concepts and exciting research findings that enable (more) complex applications of CUIs in customer interaction. The workshop facilitates and encourages a dialog between participants from industry and academia. Practitioners benefit from new ideas and innovative approaches from research. Researchers can also discover new ideas and interesting research questions of high practical relevance.

Relevant research topics for this workshop include (but are not limited to):

• Design of conversational user interfaces in customer interaction (e.g., chatbots, voice assistants, embodied conversational agents)

• Innovative prototypes and artifacts

• Empirical results on the use of conversational user interfaces

• Conversational user interfaces as part of a service

• Service engineering for conversational agents

• Interplay between natural language interaction and other modalities in multimodal systems (e.g., interaction with systems that use graphical user interfaces or metabolism-based technologies)

• Modelling languages for conversational agents

• …


We welcome submissions from practitioners that provide interesting insights into practical problems and solutions. Topics include (but are not limited to):

• Lessons learned of the development and use of conversational user interfaces (e.g., Alexa skills, customer service chatbots, etc.)

• Best Practices

• Practical problems / challenges in the area of conversational customer interaction

• …


Workshops format

The goal of this workshop is to foster an intensive exchange between industry and academia and to provide networking opportunities for all participants. The workshop will be held as a half-day workshop and is organized to combine short presentations (“Lightning talks”) and interactive discussions in small groups. Therefore, all participants can contribute with their practical and / or research experience in several small group discussions to identify relevant practical problems and open research questions. The workshop will take place virtually. Further information will be published in advance.




Dr. Sara D’Onofrio, Business Engineering Institute St. Gallen (Schweiz),

Dr. Alexander Rachmann, Fressnapf Tiernahrungs GmbH,

Dr. Ulrich Gnewuch, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT),


Program commitee:

Prof. Dr. Alexander Mädche, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Deutschland

Prof. Dr. Edy Portmann, Human-IST Institut, Universität Freiburg, Schweiz

Dr. Stefan Reinheimer, BIK GmbH, Deutschland

Sophie Hundertmark, Sophie Hundertmark GmbH ai-z GmbH, Schweiz

Toni Stucki, Die Schweizerische Post, Schweiz


What is important for participants of the Call for Contributions?

The organizers invite researchers and practitioners to submit research findings and practical experiences that have the potential to stimulate a discussion about conversation user interfaces in customer interaction, illustrate interesting practical problems, and help to discover new research questions. There are two categories of contributions:


Practical Contribution

• Target group: product managers, entrepreneurs, product owners, marketing managers, developers

• Format: a self explaining Powerpoint slide deck (for a 10-minute lecture or 15 slides, preferably in the company’s layout)

• Language: German or English



o Brief Company / Speaker Introduction

o Problem Statement

o Approach / Method

o Results, Previous Experiences, Open Questions


Research Contribution

• Target group: researchers who conduct research at the intersection of human-computer interaction and information systems

• Format: extended abstract (max. 1000 words, WI2021 Template)

• Language: German or English



o Problem Statement / Research Question

o Method / Proposed Solution

o (Preliminary) Results


All submissions will undergo an anonymized peer-review process and are evaluated according to the following criteria: novelty and originality of the approach or solution, (methodological) quality in the context of practical or scientific implementation, presentation of the results / further research needs, relevance to the workshop.


Deadlines & Dates:

• Initial submission deadline: 15/12/2020

• Acceptance decisions: 31/12/2020

• Deadline for final submission: 31/01/2021


Please submit your contributions via email to with the subject: [WI2021] + title of contribution. At least one author of each accepted submission must attend the workshop.