Ask yourself the hard questions about the current state of your automated communications. How ready is your organization is to use bots? To find out, take a clear-eyed look at how successful your organization is at the types of automated communication it’s already using. Here are eight candid questions about the current state of communication in your support desk. If you answer “yes” to two or more of these, you’re not ready to use a bot.
- Do your customers have to repeat information when they’re connected to a live agent that they’ve already typed in or said to the IVR? If so, it suggests the hand-off from automation to live person doesn’t work well. That’s not healthy if you’re thinking of using bots.
- Does your IVR say, “Listen closely as our menu items have changed?” Besides being a stale and irritating phrase, this suggests you’re not equipped to explain changes in automated communication clearly to your customers. You may not be able to sell a bot to the people you serve.
- Do your web forms force customers to choose options that don’t describe their actual problem? If a high percentage of the people who use the dropdown menu in your web form are choosing “Other,” you’re not ready for a bot.
- Is your template library (or knowledge base) woefully out of date, but you lack the bandwidth to clean it up? For two reasons, a “yes” answer to this question shows you’re not ready for a bot. First, bots rely on stored information. If your information collections aren’t good, there’s a garbage-in, garbage-out reality you’ll have to face if the bot is going to rely on the KB. Second, your team is stretched to its limit. While we count on bots to make life easier for our support analysts, that happens eventually, not immediately. If your team is too taxed to maintain the KB properly, finding the time to launch a bot isn’t likely.
- Are the “smart” systems you’re using now kind of glitchy? Let’s say, for example, you’re using employee recognition software to issue analysts “Job Well Done” badges from their peers or managers. Sadly, the software isn’t working right, and people’s badges keep getting “lost.” If your organization isn’t good at recognizing and fixing these types of glitches right away, you’re not bot-ready.
- Do you accept customers’ contacts in channels where you don’t always have the capacity to serve them? For example, do you “turn off” live chat when chat volume gets too high or wait times are too long? This suggests a “burning building” mentality about omnichannel service that won’t work well with the planfulness required to launch a bot.
- Do you lack the budget to update your service management software, so you’re not using the version you need? While this isn’t a question about automated communication, it does point to a bot being a software purchase, not a new religion. If you can’t afford the needed upgrade to the software you have, how will buying new bot software, or paying for bot development, hit your budget?
- Does your support desk fail to get customer input when making decisions about how you’ll deliver service? I’m not suggesting that you interview each customer about whether they’d rather interact with a bot than a live analyst. (Unless your analysts are really cranky, that question will get an uninformed “no.”) But if your organization is in the habit of making big decisions without getting much input from your customers, you’re not ready for a bot.
Bots are diverse. They can be simple or complex, mechanical or intelligent. They can support analysts or customers. They can be “dumb” or smart. But they are always communication tools. The successful ones will truly communicate with your customers. You don’t have to wonder whether your organization is ready to use a bot. Take an honest look at the current state of your automated communication, and you’ll know.