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Undertaking conversational automation without a well-thought-out plan could be a mistake that undermines the success of the entire initiative. Just as a house cannot be built without a foundation, neither can customer service automation.

According to CCW Market Research, only 10% of companies are successfully using artificial intelligence (AI) because they lack the foresight and holistic outline required for their specific business needs.

So, what does building a conversational automation strategy look like?

Two Conversational AI experts, Derek Roberti (VP of Technology at Cognigy) and Kane Simms (founder of VUX World) recently hosted an interactive workshop, titled "Building a Conversational Automation Strategy for Customer Self-service."

Over 50 conversational designers, directors/VPs of automation and contact center operations executives gathered for the virtual workshop, rolled up their sleeves and actively collaborated on a digital blackboard to map out their goals, challenges and paths forward.

 

Conversational automation maturity

In order to build a strategy, a good starting point is to gauge maturity. To understand where a business stands in the whole automation maturity scale is to see the road *behind and ahead* for building a conversational automation strategy, short- and long-term. 

Nearly 80% of participants were in the Crawl and Walk phases. Crawl means they are trying to prove the value of their projects and mostly using simple use cases. Walk means they are trying to scale, moving forward with more advanced cases and even leveraging analytics.

As conversational AI is still an early innovation adoption, this represents where most businesses are in their maturity phase today.

 

Popular goals for Conversational AI

An important step is to understand your unique goals. Defining your goals for Conversational AI creates the foundation for actions that will make it a reality.

Gaining new clients (increasing revenue) and achieving integrations (eg UI Path, Blue Prism) are popular goals among, but overall, two big themes have emerged.

First, improving customer satisfaction. Businesses want to be able to communicate with users every step of the user-journey and across different channels. They know consumers demand faster, easier communications and service and are looking to Conversational AI to get them on the right path.

Second, more automation. Common goals are to automate a range of areas, including outbound calls, time scheduling, taking payments by phone, handling first level tech support, eliminating simple questions sent to Support Desk, helping agents do their job, tackling low hanging fruit tasks, and just "making it easier to do business with us".

 

Areas you want to solve

What are the most pressing issues your business needs to solve? How can you help customers even better? How can you improve processes and communications? Determining what your company's biggest pain points are is the best place to start. Once mapped out, then you can prioritize them and align with your goals.

Most likely your challenges will fall within these two areas:

Customer inquiries (simple/repetitive): Password reset, check my order status, check invoice status, order questions, product availability, product selector / parts finding

Employee communications: Tax policies, new policies, access to shared folder, updating Salesforce sales pipeline, calling in to correct their timesheets, getting work schedules, finding remaining vacation days

Once you are out of the Crawl and Walk phases and have confidence in existing projects, then you should start to tackle the more complex issues.

 

Anchors and engines

Anchors and Engines is a great way to put a visual perspective of your planning. Anchors represents what's dragging you down and Engines represents what's driving you forward.

Some examples of Anchors might be:

Cost; data protection; system integration, legacy systems; conflicting priorities; IT process are very slow; capacity constraints; lack of experience/expertise/ negative experiences working with chatbots; lack of forward-thinking mindsets; need to build business case and use cases.

Examples of Engines might be:

Management buy-in, identified as executive priority; cost savings; competitors already doing it; features/benefits like 24/7 support, self-service options; positive experience with chatbots; revamping/re-evaluating contact center applications.

 

Putting it into action

Going through these exercises can help you see the big picture and better aim you where you need to go. Make an action plan that is attainable and scalable, and then put it in motion. If your Anchors were 'no management buy-in' and 'no business case', then think about how to overcome those Anchors.

An additional consideration is to evaluate the team that's responsible for chatbots and voice bots - and have the team even do these exercises together. Once management approves of the initiative and investment, the success sits on the shoulders of everyone involved.

Watch this VUX World podcast with Derek and Kane to hear their thoughts on what's ahead for enterprise conversational automation.

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