Conversing without these AI policies spells trouble

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Before you jump in the deep end of the pool that is known as conversational AI, take the opportunity to consider the role of digital policies in keeping your enterprise protected while also reaping the rewards that the new channel provides.

A little more than a year ago, I shared how we used a chatbot to support marketing governance ( see Use a Chatbot for Digital Governance? Why Not?). This year, I found myself in a digital policy project focused on the rollout of enterprise chatbot capability. The organization is introducing the chatbot functionality as part of a broader digital transformation supporting prospects and customers, but the staff that interacts most often with the — customer service.

If bare decision trees and a chat with multiple links as choices are the concepts that just popped into your brain, you are sorely mistaken in what chatbot capability looks like in today’s business world. Enterprise chatbots are more sophisticated, more nuanced, and present more opportunity (but also risk!) than ever before. And the numbers the narrative:

  • 85% of customer interaction will be handled without human agents by 2021.

Oh, and then there is this: chatbots can cut operational costs by up to 30%! That’s because, according to Gartner, by next year, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without humans, with customers getting answers instantly, and agents can spend their time solving more critical issues.

In the past two years alone, there has been an abrupt change in chatbot learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) has transformed not just capabilities but also how users interact with chatbots. The digital power has matured to where chatbots appear human and deal with more human conversations thanks to machine learning that sits behind the chatbot. Advances allow brands and services to create an interface that feels human and interacts in a way that people expect.

But before you jump in the deep end of the pool that is known as conversational AI, take the opportunity to consider the role of digital policies in keeping your enterprise protected while also reaping the rewards that the new channel provides. Here are a few of the lessons learned with my clients this year, including the policies that helped get operational alignment where it matters most.

  • Usage analytics and reporting. The benefit of conversational AI systems comes from the enterprise improving service and freeing humans to focus on higher-value tasks, answering more complicated queries, and improving service to customers. We had to baseline analytics at the start of the initiative, pulse checks along the way, and report the resulting analytics in an aggregated manner. Headquarters took the lead on this effort, but we faced resistance in capturing and reporting analytics at the local market level due to already overburdened resources. We created a policy compliance scorecard, which, if completed successfully, translates into a 5% budget boost for local markets to use in marketing or sales efforts. The scorecard includes insights about customer activities, challenges, preferences, and frequency of interaction. We now get transparency into the effectiveness of the conversational AI capabilities and can detect a problem in a specific area of operations. The client has been able to update their website information and upgrade internal processes.

My list is a good representation of the critical policy areas around conversational AI. Not surprisingly, the more capabilities and experience the enterprise develops, the more policies can be expected. I am excited to continue supporting this initiative, as it has many implications for cost savings and increasing individual worker productivity.

Are you thinking about using conversational AI inside your enterprise for either marketing, sales, or in-house productivity? Drop a line and let me know what challenges and lessons learned you have to share. I’d love to hear what policies you are developing to help keep your risks and opportunities appropriately balanced.

Originally published at https://www.kpodnar.com.

Digital policy innovator, helping organizations see policies as opportunities to free the organization from uncertainty, risk, internal chaos.