How to realise the benefits of bots and get them into action quickly: The most critical parts of the process are the ability to train the bot to undertake meaningful added value work, and to achieve levels of customer engagement that make the investments worthwhile.
A good place to start is considering how you train new colleagues. Almost every organisation will undertake some form of side by side training - an experienced member of staff showing the new colleague what to do. Some organisations will go further with written notes of how to undertake various activities. A proportion of these will have structured and documented processes, check that the organisation follows them, and build in customer feedback loops to refine and improve (the basic principle of ISO9001).
To achieve results from a bot you need to provide it with enough examples of the situations it will come up against and how to respond. The more structured the existing process the faster benefits can be realised. For those that do not have such a structured knowledge management repository, the activity of documenting and reviewing processes is often valuable.
The second key step of realising the benefit is to get customers to engage with the technology. The positive benefits to the customer are typically ease and precision of product selection. Demonstration of benefits to the customer link directly to recognition of the value of sales advice and the more obvious the benefit the greater the willingness to engage.
Combining these factors, bots show a strong business case for organisations that pursue a quality based business approach and that sell products or solutions where the customer’s perceived needs and the optimum solution are not always immediately connected.
The choice of technology does materially affect the pace at which benefits can be realised. When it comes to training there are huge differences between a bot using a probabilistic approach and a rules based approach (see Part Two for an explanation). There are also big differences in the required scope between a prompt based bot and a pure natural language option.
Where existing knowledge management can be translated into learned actions by the bot, very fast progress can be made in rule based systems. In business terms, a well-defined sales process makes it much easier to get up and running quickly.
Pre-existing libraries of process and conversation are both a shortcut but also improve quality as they have already been through multiple stages of refinement.
Realising the benefits is substantially accelerated by working with a partner that brings both technical solutions and business know how.
In summary there are four factors that impact your ability to deliver great results fast:
- An existing demand for sales assistance ie you already successfully add value to customers by giving advice on purchases
- You have some structure around how you conduct your business: documented processes and training materials are ideal
- You pick the right technology for the environment and data you have
- You work with a suitably experienced and skilled delivery partner