By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing
Conversational AI is a technology that is regularly described as ‘innovative’ and ‘cutting-edge’. Simply having ‘AI’ in the name makes some people think of it as being futuristic or only for companies with the resources to implement it for the cool factor. It can be easy for business leaders to associate conversational AI with being a high-risk investment.
For many companies, proven and reliable results are more important than being innovative and flashy. Projects that get budget approval and management backing are ones that are considered safe bets because they utilize established technologies that have documented business benefits. They don’t have the financial flexibility or company culture to take a high level of risk, whether that risk is real or inferred.
The good news is that conversational AI projects don’t have to be risky. In this blog series, I’m sharing three steps for achieving conversational AI success while minimizing the risk. You shouldn’t let the common misconception that conversational AI has to be a high-risk investment keep you from implementing it to improve your customer experience and employee engagement.
The previous posts in this series covered the first two steps to minimizing your risk:
- Step 1: Be selective when deciding on a vendor and technology.
- Step 2: Build a business case with realistic goals.
Once you’ve read through those steps, you’ll be ready for number three:
Step 3: Start with a pilot and expand with a staged approach.
Before you go all in with a conversational AI project, look to do a pilot or proof-of-concept (POC) with the vendor. This gives your organization the opportunity to test out the technology on a limited basis to make sure it is a good fit for you and your digital strategy. The financial risk associated with this pilot should be shared by the vendor.
Typical pilots run for 30-60 days which will provide sufficient time for you to see results, evaluate initial performance, and make decisions about taking the next step in your conversational AI plan. A successful pilot strengthens your business case and enables you to finetune your strategy based on real feedback and user interactions. Also be sure to use the pilot phase as an opportunity to test integration points to ensure your solution will work end-to-end as you expand the deployment.
Starting with a pilot, and sharing that financial risk with the vendor, makes moving forward with a larger conversational AI investment less of a gamble for your company. When you do convert from the pilot to a full system, you still don’t need to jump directly into a massive project. Taking a staged approach to development and rollout is not only less risky, but also often the best way to achieve success.
Typically, the best method for deploying a chatbot or virtual agent is to use an agile approach, starting small and scaling the solution over time. This could mean focusing on a particular area of content, a specific use case, or a key contact channel that will have the greatest impact as a starting point. Your vendor will collaborate with you to design a staged rollout based on your biggest pain points. This reduces risk because you are streamlining your efforts in a way that supports your identified KPIs. You can also take advantage of new insights as you go to improve the tool and tweak your plan to maximize on successes and avoid potential problems.
It’s a common misconception that conversational AI is always a high-risk investment for organizations, but one that shouldn’t keep you from implementing your own chatbot or virtual agent. Being a risk-adverse business is not a barrier to deploying a successful and valuable conversational AI project. These three steps can help you join other savvy companies in taking advantage of the proven, reliable benefits of this technology while minimizing your risk.
To make it easier for you and your organization to apply these three steps to your conversational AI approach, I’ve compiled them all into a single document which can be read, shared, and downloaded here: Conversational AI Doesn’t Have to be a Risky Investment.