Building a digital workforce is a critical endeavour for any organisation in the twenty first century. The events of last couple of months have made this more apparent than ever; prompting an explosion of content from vendors aiming to inform business leaders of the technical capabilities and value propositions of Conversational AI (CAI). However, much of the information around the topic has been focused on the technical aspect, overlooking the importance of human characteristics when recruiting a digital employee. Instead, we get hundreds of long and dull posts, often couched in arcane language that are published every day without touching on what organisations really need to focus on to be successful in selecting the right AI to support their digital transformation.
Conversational AI aims to augment and automate the conversational aspects of a business’s process, providing an engaging experience that mimics human behaviours. Employing CAI makes it your digital employee: the one you will trust to handle your customers, making it the forefront of your brand. It is therefore critical that when recruiting for CAI that we judge technologies based on human attributes. When you are looking to implement AI, you should look to take the AI through a rigorous ‘interview’ process that will assure its successful on boarding, much as you would with a human employee.
Here is what the team at Mesh AI have found were the most crucial questions to ask when adopting Conversational AI.
Can they learn and grow with our business?
When hiring a new employee, recruiters will always consider how easy it will be to onboard the candidate and if they have the attributes we need as we grow. Similarly, this methodology should be replicated when recruiting digital employees. You need to be asking whether they can do the task we have today and also grow to fill the needs of tomorrow. It may start as a simple FAQ, but then grow into more complex use cases as we broaden its usage across the organisation.
Will they fit in?
We all subscribe to the theory that no matter how good someone is, they are no good if they do not fit in. This is a critical measure for your CAI agent — they will embody your brand; they will talk to hundreds or thousands of your clients daily and can seriously impact your team.
Our digital workforce is not separate and detached from our human workforce and if it is treated as such it will underperform. CAI should be used to empower our teams and businesses, staff need to feel comfortable that the system is there to support them instead of posing as a threat. When comparing technologies, it is always important to ask how it will work in conjunction with other assets to deliver real business outcomes. The best implementations of AI should not seek to replace employees, in fact, an FTE only reduction strategy is missing the point of the true productivity that CAI can deliver. Rather, CAI agents work in conjunction with employees to support them as only AI can — manipulating large amounts of data, making recommendations and relieving them of mundane duties so that they can focus their efforts on more productive tasks.
Can it be trusted to be a brand ambassador?
Conversational AI interfaces can handle thousands of customer interactions and they can either very quickly support your brand equity, or rapidly erode it. Given that most brands take years to build and are valued in the many millions, this is something that needs to be carefully considered. Many companies get a “bot” to handle FAQ’s and don’t pay much attention to brand impact — BUT every transaction counts and it needs to be remembered that no matter how simple the application, CAI agents are still talking to a customer (or potential customer).
This all means that it is essential that the persona of the AI is curated in a way that emulates the target image and branding of your business. Pre-packaged and instant Ai “chatbots” can oftentimes cause damage to a brand as they have a one size fits all approach with no capability to adapt to the individual business or provide the unique experience it wishes to create. Pick a system that allows you to tailor and improve your AI’s persona so that it stays consistent and beneficial to your brand.
Does it look the part?
How do we want our CAI agent to appear to customers? Are we going for the anthropomorphic approach (human like attributes such as the M&M characters) or hyper-realistic avatars? Either way, they need to tie back to your brand and engender the right “feeling”.
In the digital age, the way our technical assets look and interact is more crucial than ever — looking good is great, but a frustrating experience will trump a great avatar every time.. Many great CAI implementations fail to deliver due to a lack of usage by users. Conversational Interfaces, like all interfaces, need to be both appealing and attractive to their intended users to ensure that they are utilised.
What does this all mean?
Whilst the technology underpinning CAI is important, we should not ignore the fact that we are trying to create a human like experience, and that failing to do so will undo any benefits we may get from CAI.
Don’t think short term: CAI can be successful for you if you recruit the right one. It will grow across silo’s in the business and your tool needs to able to support that.