Setting the Stage for Bots in Your Organization

Any good leader knows that if you're going to make a change in your organization, you need to have a plan of attack on how best to implement that change and a plan for the transition. You ask yourself all the appropriate questions: how will my employees react to this? How do I message this to them so everyone sees the benefits and long-term vision? What is the most effective way to roll this out to maximize everyone's comfort level and results? While change is an inevitable constant, especially in today's world of rapidly evolving technology, it doesn't have to be abrupt and stressful.

This seems like common sense, and yet it is not the way that many companies have approached their chatbot introductions. One of the most common and detrimental mistakes a company can make when it comes to launching a chatbot is approaching it from a mindset of set it and forget it. You wouldn't alter your supply chain without first thinking critically about the best strategy to implement such a big shift, so why would you implement a bot into your care strategy without thinking critically about how to best manage that kind of change? Following are three key areas to consider when launching a bot and fully integrating the new tool into your company's organizational outline:

Set employee expectations before launching a bot.

Launching a bot is no different than hiring a new employee. The role that worker plays will need to be clear to other employees to maximize successful collaboration and gain the utmost benefit. To do this, start by designating bot managers who will oversee the bots and be responsible for their success. As you're going to want these people to be your bot advocates, choose managers who truly see the value bots will add to the team and are excited to implement and manage them.

You'll also need to address job security for concerned employees. If bots will be taking on some of their responsibilities, alert them immediately and let them know how their priorities will be shifting. It's important to educate your employees on how the company is planning to use bots and how they are meant as additional resources rather than replacements. Getting your employees involved in the implementation as well will help assuage their concerns and embrace it as a key resource. One way to do this is to create a system in which all employees can provide feedback on bot performance.

Prepare consumers for the oncoming change slowly; don't spring it on them all at once.

All the employee preparation in the world will go to waste if your customers are not also prepared for your bot integration. Naturally, this process will look differently than it does for your internal teams. As a first step, prepare a marketing strategy that introduces customers to the bot, its capabilities, and its explicit benefits. Consumers should be told up front and clearly what the bot is there to do to effectively manage expectations. You don't want your customers to assume the bot can answer every single question when it is meant to specialize in log-in issues.

A/B testing should be used to determine what works best for your customers. The language used by the bot should be tested to measure the effectiveness of different phrases as well as different options beyond language. In some instances, you might find a graphical drop-down menu showing product or service options will be more effective and preferred by your customers.

Most importantly, however, is to roll out bot capabilities slowly over time. Start with small, simple tasks that will build consumer trust in the bot. Aim to be exceptional at a few things versus average at many and your consumers will take notice. When a bot can execute on a few things extremely well, it leads to wider acclaim and acceptance. On the flip side, if the bot can do many things but has mediocre results in those tasks, it can lead to a confusing and frustrating experience for your customers and more escalations to human agents. Don't set your bot up for failure by asking it to be a jack of all trades.

Have a clear vision of what bot success looks like and stick to it.

At the end of the day, it's crucial you recognize that bots are employees. You hire them, you train them, and in the event that they are consistently under-performing, you fire them. Hold them to the same high expectations you would human employees. This requires that you know exactly what their duties are and that you set them up for success by properly training them.

Tactically, this means starting with goal-setting. Once you know exactly what role the bot will play, you need to determine what key indicators will let you know the bot is successful. Some example indicators could include core objectives around customer satisfaction, how often the bot has to escalate a task to a human colleague, the number of messages sent per conversation, or the percentage of first-contact resolutions. When bots hit their indicators, make those successes clear and visible both internally and externally to continue to increase bot advocacy among employees and customers.

As a final word of advice, elect a strong executive to spearhead your bot integration and set expectations among employees. A strong leader will not only be able to communicate the role of bots effectively but will operate as a true champion, working in the best interest of both human and bot employees. Bots can lead to a more effective and efficient organization, but it is crucial that their use is correctly perceived as a way to improve the workloads of existing employees. The over-arching change management formula doesn't change for bots. Applying practical, methodological steps will greatly increase your company'schance of success in this rapidly evolving technology.

Anthony Kunjbehari is principal solutions consultant at LivePerson.