Over time I’ve noticed a trajectory for companies in adopting virtual assistants. Companies start from any of the starting points and then slowly move up the trajectory as their chat automation project progresses. Needless to say, all the successful chat projects differ in speed but on average, the course is the same.
Understanding this trajectory helps you assess your own organization, where you currently stand and how to think about chat automation in the larger context of automation. Take this as an automation roadmap that you can use internally in strategy meetings or when planning out your activities and budgets for the next quarters. The trajectory goes as follows:
- First, companies assess the needs of customer support in terms of volumes of monthly transactions. This is for deciding whether to go for a bot in the first place. We usually advise to use bots if the monthly chats exceed 1,000 conversations. Less than that and you can survive with a human support agent.
- Secondly, when companies go for chat automation they do so for certain parts of the customer service channel. The first look is mostly at high volume parts of the customer support. These can be related to certain products or services (e.g. topics related to invoices or billing usually gain the most volume in customer support).
- The third step is to offer the support bots across all customer service related topics and perhaps bring in some sales related topics as well. This is done after a pilot when the initial parts of the bot have been tested. Usually there you see that the customer support managers and people leading business development have accepted that the bot can add acceptable value to the organization in the initial pilot phase and the decide for a more comprehensive roll-out of the support solution.
- And number four is where things get interesting. What some of the more innovative companies are thinking about are virtual assistants capable of authenticating users. Why is this important? When in the beginning the bots are mostly just giving general advice on topics, then authentication unlocks a lot of powerful features. With authentication, the bot can verify the user’s identity against an internal API and start providing information that previously only a human agent could provide. This can include detailed information about billing, status of ordered services or products, ability to change details related to the account and orders. Essentially anything, that human agent could do for the user or that the user could do in self-service. Yet, with a bot through the chat interface, such queries can be executed faster and in a more convenient manner. Add voice to this and you got a killer combination.
Needless to say, authentication is something we’re offering as well and more on this in the next post. In the meantime, feel free to share this trajectory in-house with your manager to get their buy-in for the automation project you are seeking to push forward 🙂 If you need help, reach out indrek (at) alphablues (dot) com