/ Leader guide

AI & bots - A guide for business leaders: Part 7 - Implementation

Grow your business faster this year with a 'bot' that sells: Influencing customers at the point of purchase helps you to close more sales, and build greater long term satisfaction. Giving good advice will build trust and create value. So adding a bot to your website, and a bot that sells, is a must do task for successful companies in 2017.

So far in this series we have shown you all you need to know to make a great choice, now its time to get the party started and get on with implementation. You need a plan - preferably agreed across multiple functions including sales, marketing, operations, ecommerce and IT.

Here is a quick overview to get you started:

Firstly, ensure you are clear on the scope of the project by asking:

  • What categories or products or activities will your bot cover?
  • Where should it appear – homepage, category or product pages, every page?
  • What is it going to do for you? From receptionist to general manager, account manager to product expert …
  • How will it respond to ‘sorry, but I don't understand’ situations?

By agreeing on scope up front, you can be sure that success can be measured in stages, quickly identifying which customer interactions benefit from the bot interactions. This enables further stages to build on these successes, and avoid parts that have little or no interaction.

Secondly, look closely at training and your environment by understanding answers:

  • Are there any regulatory factors that need to be taken into account?
  • Is it your intention to replicate an existing process?
  • How is training to be done once the commercial flow is defined: specialist IT development task or business focussed "code free" approach?
  • Does your product data support differentiation between products?
  • How will you manage ongoing activities?

Examining the case for a bot can quicken the understanding, documentation and optimisation opportunities with existing processes. Ensure to ask questions to maximise product differentiation in the areas that matter. Some bot providers will provide a library of content to reduce the need to create everything bespoke. Building a bot is not a one-off job, it requires tuning and adapting to provide an enjoyable experience for customers as well as learn new product categories and facts – it is important that the team defines how change will be managed and approved; as well as any auditing and tracking that needs to be undertaken for compliance.

Thirdly, you need to look at how people will "get to know" your bot - and that it is available. As there is little purpose in having a brilliant bot if it is unused. Ask yourself:

  • How will you go about building customer engagement?
  • Where will it be visible, and how will it initiate conversations?
  • Do you reveal you bot as software up front or pretend it is a human?
  • Is it appropriate to "wake up" the bot from other events – such as certain search requests?
  • What sort of timing do you want between responses to make it natural as possible?
  • Which is more important – what is said or how you say it?

Yet more questions, but the critical fact is that you need to build engagement with the bot to understand how your customers will respond. Even if the interaction seems mildly intrusive, the important thing is getting it in front of people and giving them the option. By tracking both open and reject events, you can then build a picture of which pages are most likely to garner interaction.

Fourth - Integration into the business: a bot that works with other systems

Clearly there are going to be a few "technical" aspects on a checklist. I promise you I've cut these down the bare minimum so we can talk about measuring success shortly! So, it is critical to check with your bot vendor a number of points including:

  • Putting the code live: is this a simple drop in script or is there heavy lifting to be done on your ecommerce site?
  • Pass to an agent: do you have a robust and timely method of passing a conversation to an agent in a way that will yield increased customer satisfaction?
  • Ecommerce actions: Can the bot prepare and place recommended products to basket automatically following a conversation?

Five Alive: Our bot is a great success!

Finally you need to be up front about how you're going to measure and manage a successful outcome from your bot implementation. So you need to check:

  • What is the benchmark to measure success: conversations, resolutions, orders?
  • What are the targets and how does this link with ROI?
  • What metrics can be captured by the platform and what do we actually need?

Celebrate!

As all great advisors say "forewarned is forearmed" – starting your bot project with this checklist of questions and advice will give you the best possible chance of success. And of course an amazing party to celebrate success.