Have you checked on your sales quotas lately? Are you on track to meet your goals by the end of the year? If so, congratulations! If not, well… read on and see if we can help you out.
By now the benefits of launching a simple chatbot pilot program are well known but let me point out the most prominent advantage: everyone who engages with the bot and leaves their contact information becomes a qualified lead who’s actually interested in the product or service on offer. When you contact that person, it won’t be another frustrating cold call, but a positive experience with someone who actually asked for something that you can provide.
While launching a chatbot pilot might seem a bit daunting at first, especially if you have no experience with automated systems, don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve already written about how to tackle most major roadblocks that come up in a chatbot pilot project in an earlier article, so now we’ll concentrate on some best practice tips on how to get everything done in time for the holidays.
Let’s break it down by month, shall we?
Have a great holiday, relax, or enjoy your vacation however you like! While you’re there you might like to read about an advanced chatbot solutions, such as Dorsum’s Botboarding platform, which won the prestigious Best of Show award at Finovate Europe, as well as the Juniper Innovation Award.
Come back in September and we’ll get started! Bye!
Oh, you’re back already? How was the holiday? Are you feeling rested and ready for work? Good! 😊
Let’s get to it!
Your most important task for this month will be to make a couple of important decisions about the bot’s purpose, content, and key performance indicators. However, you should also start looking at potential vendors. Nothing concrete yet, but at least have a rough idea of the most likely candidates for the project.
Okay. To start off, you must decide on the purpose of the bot. Here are just a couple of examples of what we mean by that:
- Will the bot be a simple novelty to engage new clients?
- Should the bot simply be a way to provide quick access to information?
- Is the bot considered a separate channel or will it compliment others?
- Will the bot focus on Frequently Asked Questions or marketing campaigns?
You should also decide on the products or services you wish to cover with the bot. As a rule of thumb, a chatbot pilot should focus on 1-2 key useful features (such as price calculators, location services, opening hours, etc.) along with 2-3 products or services. There should also be many opportunities for the clients to leave their contact information. If you’re not sure where to start, try reviewing your e-mail data or your website’s internal search history to find out what your customers are interested in the most.
Next, specify the type and the amount of information you wish to convey with the bot. This is important to decide at this early stage, as the business side usually tries to include too much information, while the marketing side would only use bulletin points, not to mention the requirements from the legal department… Let’s use a credit card product as an example. What content should be included?
- General information (such as card types, advantages, usage information)
- Detailed information (such as prices, fees, waiting times, etc)
- Concrete actions (such as Lost / damaged card handling or new card ordering)
- Calculation implementation
- Frequently asked questions (every question type that usually comes up)
Also determine if you’ll provide human assistance for the users at any point. If yes, figure out who will be on hand to take over from the bot when needed.
Finally, don’t forget to set up some key performance indicators to be able to measure if the pilot was a success! Try to determine the criteria that deems a chat session successful. For example:
- The user read all the available information about the product
- The user asked for help and got in contact with a customer support person
- The user left their contact information, generating a sales lead
- The user engaged with the bot for more than x amount of times
Got all that? Phew… nice!
This preparation work shouldn’t take you all month, but the time you put in will be well worth your while. It will provide you with a clear goal to shoot for when you start development.
Speaking of development, it’s time to pin down the developer, so for the rest of September focus on finalizing your initial research and find a partner you feel you’re comfortable with. You could also ask for a proposal from the potential candidates. Have all the information we’ve gathered about your needs and requirements ready and include them in your request for proposals! This will allow your potential partners to understand the project better, and in turn they’ll be able to provide you with a more accurate timeframe as well as give a reasonable estimate for the price. For example, our firm is always straight-forward when it comes to pricing. If your requirements are clear, we can give you concrete numbers and you won’t have to worry about additional hidden fees.
For a general pilot program, 2 months of development time should be enough for an experienced Vendor.
By the middle of October, you should have the vendor selected, and the contract signed. Thanks to the decisions made up to this point, the vendor will already have a good understanding of what you expect from them. Now is the time to provide some additional information so they can start working on your prototype as soon as possible.
First, you must come up with a personality for the bot. Don’t forget to include your Marketing or Communications departments when making these decisions, as they will surely have concrete ideas in mind as to how the bot should behave. Should it be…
- Friendly (does it encourage the users?); Playful (does it tell jokes?); Neutral; Business like (does the bot address the user as a business partner or an unknown person?); Professional; Etc.
Also, if you have a mascot, you might consider using their image as the face of the bot. If not, decide on weather to use a photo, a human-like drawing, or a cute caricature. Here are some examples:
Keep in mind that the bot’s appearance and personality should have a big presence in the marketing campaign for the chatbot service, so the tone of the campaign should reflect the personality of the bot.
Discuss the results of these decisions with the Vendor, and by the end of October they should be ready with the first version of the bot’s prototype.
Start the month off with a Brainstorming session with the Vendor. Gather every stakeholder from your side, such as Business, Marketing, Communication, Legal, IT, etc. and test the prototype together with the Vendor. You will come across many bugs, errors and mistakes, but you’ll also get a better understanding of what works, and what the focus should be. Now is the time to adjust your goals to reflect these experiences and come to an agreement on what the pilot’s final scope should be.
The vendor should then go and prepare a second prototype based on your feedback.
In the meantime, you can use this period to answer some questions about the bot’s administration which no doubt will come up when the pilot goes live. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it’s best to be prepared, so make sure to think about the following:
- Who will be the administrators of the bot? – The Sales dept.? Marketing? The Call Center?
- Who will monitor the information provided by the bot? – Who will check the spelling of the copywriting? Who will check the accuracy of the content? Who will check if the bot’s working at all or not?
- Who will notify the administrator if a change is needed? – Product managers? The sales staff? Appointed contacts from all departments?
- Who will update any outdated information? – The Vendor? The administrators?
- Who will authorize any changes made to the bot? – Department Heads? Middle managers?
- What type of data will you be asking the users to provide? – Will it include personal information? Do you have a data processing and handling policy?
By the middle of November, the second prototype should be ready. The same group should test the bot again and send all feedback to the Vendor, who’ll be able to make the third and final prototype based on this information by the end of November.
With the final prototype finished, the pilot project is ready to be launched.
If you wish to see real activity from the bot, a marketing campaign informing your clients about the new communication platform should be launched along with the pilot.
The Vendor should take an active role in checking on people talking with the bot in the first few weeks, analysing their behaviour, and making small changes to the chat workflow on the fly, to iron out any bugs or logical errors that may have slipped through the testing phase.
And after all that, all you have to do is log into your CRM system or check on the bot’s reporting screens for all the qualified lead contacts coming in, waiting to buy your product or service, just in time for the Holidays.
What a nice gift from Santa! 🎅🏻 🎅🏻 🎅🏻
Ps.: Don’t forget to take another vacation for the end of the year! You’ve earned it!