/ Leader guide

AI & bots - A guide for business leaders: Part 6 - Making your choice

How to chose the best bot for your business: Implementing a bot is like other investments. Impact and ROI are significant decision factors. Look to a bot to deliver sales growth and cost reduction.

Sales growth can come in several ways: higher online conversion rates, greater basket sizes, capability to sell new products, increased customer retention (better service). These are proven results from adding dialogue to a website.

Automation yields cost reduction and increased quality.

Ultimately, a successful bot implementation gives your business consistent high quality sales and service, available 24x7 and scalable for peaks of activity. Successful delivery is dependent on the choices you make.

We recommend as a starting point:

  • Be clear and realistic on what you are trying to achieve
  • Take advice from an expert that understands your situation and can give tailored advice
  • Consider the available technologies based on your specific circumstances and objectives
  • Decide on how you will refine and develop to future proof your investments

To help chose your bot, we recommend you also think about these issues:

  1. Complex situations are made harder if communication is not 100% clear. The method used has a big impact on precision
  2. The capability of the bot is proportional to the training it is given
    Transaction repetitions impact technology choices
  3. Most business people question the capability of bots to cope in their business.

They question how the technology will be able to get to grips with the products in the same way a person can. Perhaps that is because people struggle giving solution advice in more complex areas such as when dealing with:

  • large catalogues
  • many similar products
  • a weak relationship between product features and purpose/use of the item
  • several products required to work together to form a solution

By selecting the correct technologies, these difficulties can be minimised.

In addition, when handling complex situations, clear communication is essential. Natural language is inherently less precise than prompt based selection because intent is derived rather than stated.

So when it comes to making a technology choice, NLP and probability will produce a very engaging system, but it is going to be very hard to produce successful bot behaviour for highly complex products requiring judgemental advice.

As regards training – consider whether you can provide many examples – thousands of similar conversations. For all but the most repetitive industries such as insurance, repetition rates are simply too low to utilise predictive technologies. The alternatives are logic or rule based. Particularly in this situation it is still much better to start with an ‘educated bot’. Example libraries of conversations and business based flows give you a big head start. But watch out for toys. It would be remarkable indeed to be up and running in 30 minutes!

Remaining on training: this will be an ongoing process – to extend capability plus to stay up to date and reflect changing circumstances. Training is an absolutely key activity. Check for tools that enable this to be undertaken by non IT staff.

For the ‘average’ SME – remember that could be up to 1000 people and a turnover of £1bn we recommend a starting point as follows:

  • Prompt based systems over NLP
  • Rules over probabilities
  • Existing libraries/out of the box training over fully bespoke

These choices are likely to enable you to be up and running in days rather than months, whilst not overly compromising the actual capabilities of the system in the medium term.

Next up: Part 7 - Bot Implementation