While previous generation virtual assistants were little more than front-ends to a knowledge base, today’s intelligent assistants are taking things to the next level with full conversational interactions – whether via the chatbot in messaging threads or through virtual assistants embedded into the web journey.
Certainly the latest conversational platforms – with their ability to extend self-service capabilities with a dedicated chatbot functionality – have a critical role to play in supporting the end-to-end customer journey.
So, it’s perhaps surprising that so few organisations have yet to commit to such an approach. When recent industry research asked whether organisations were planning to implement a conversational service channel in their contact centre – such as a chatbot or intelligent assistant solution – within the next 12 months, just 11% said they already had one and a further 11% said they were currently implementing such a solution. That left 27.7% saying that they were planning to implement a chatbot or intelligent assistant based service in the next year, and a troubling 44.4%, feeling that such an approach was more of a longer term strategy.
While businesses will clearly set their own CX agenda, it’s unfortunate that approaching half of the firms surveyed are missing out on the many valuable insights that a conversational service channel can have in terms of complementing and/or validating their digital CX strategy.
However, for those that are currently implementing their solution, or are planning to do so over the next few months, we believe it’s essential that you also learn from your bot deployment and keep on applying its findings to fine tune your customer journeys.
Here are Sabio’s five specific recommendations for accelerating your time to conversational service benefits:
1. Don’t try and re-invent the wheel – there’s no need to build your own bot – there are lots of proven virtual assistants out there already. Focus instead on what you’re good at: developing content that’s outwardly focused, that delivers the answers that will help your customers, and that – most importantly – is simple and free of internally-focused jargon
2. Involve your brand and website owners early on – too many Bot deployments fail because website and contact centre owners don’t talk, so projects are often thought to either have a negative impact on the web experience or just increase contact into the chat channel. Instead, make sure you understand your respective KPIs and create a solution that meets your joint needs – while still keeping the customer experience front and centre.
3. Continually review your data, and act on it – conversational solutions are great for unlocking customer insight. However, to achieve this you need to assign a dedicated resource with not only ownership of findings, but also the authority to implement changes, add or refine content, and digitise those processes where unexpected demand has surfaced. Neglect these aspects and your bot project will probably fail
4. Apply daily or weekly bot tuning – Keeping your conversational bot as current as possible will not only assist in terms of increasing the resolution of customer queries, but also in helping businesses to create Virtual Agents that have a personality that customers can associate with positively. From a marketing perspective, these can also be useful in driving advocacy while at the same time optimising costs
5. Set achievable customer expectations – demonstrate your bot’s functionality by winning customer acceptance early. Tell customers that a new bot will deliver three specific initial capabilities, deliver on those early goals and add further customer functionality over time
Follow these guidelines and you’ll quickly start to see good results from your conversational deployment.
Five steps to accelerating chatbot benefits
Matt Dyer is head of Consultancy at Sabio