Chatbots driven by artificial intelligence (AI) have achieved success across dozens of industries and use cases. In both customer- and employee-facing capacities, chatbots are alleviating human beings of tedious processes, and they are creating opportunities for better customer and employee experiences, as well as improved business results.

Now, these successes are driving an astonishing 29.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the chatbot market, where countless organizations are building on their predecessors and launching new chatbot projects for the very first time. But while successful chatbots are driving organizational benefits, failed but otherwise avoidable chatbot projects are all too common.

Fortunately, with some knowledge, preparation, and support, technology decision makers can ensure their chatbots are successful for their organizations in the long term. They can guarantee chatbots serve the appropriate purpose for which they were designed and provide opportunities to expand and scale as well.

Don’t Put Your Chatbot Project in Jeopardy

The business analysts and chatbot experts at Botpress have identified seven areas where companies most often encounter problems with their initial chatbot projects. Here we share the details of those risks as well as solutions that could potentially save your project.

A ship in jeopardy
A ship in jeopardy

Risk #1: Applying the Wrong Tools for Developing Effective Chatbots

Selecting the wrong chatbot platform for your near-term and long-term objectives immediately puts your project at risk. Fortunately, you can differentiate between the three platform types—no-code, low-code, and manual coding frameworks—to determine what’s right for your company.

No-code solutions can be implemented quickly without any coding, which some companies prefer if they lack time or certain skill sets. These solutions are often easy to implement for a specific use case, but lack flexibility and limit opportunities to apply the solution to alternate scenarios.

Manual coding solutions allow for increased flexibility and customization. Their most notable downside is additional manual labor, especially as you scale. They take more time to get started and to reach the level of value to show a return on your chatbot investment. You will need the right skill sets internally as well—not just to launch your first project, but for future projects that require additional code.

Low-code solutions, on the other hand, provide both flexibility and speed. These solutions provide access to their code and data, which enable developers to customize the chatbots without unnecessary and redundant coding from scratch.

Risk #2: Overapplying Your New Chatbot Solutions

Historically, there has been a lot of hype around chatbots and their potential for replacing human processes, possibly in their entirety. But companies are making a mistake if they attempt to replace entire human roles with chatbots. In fact, chatbots are at their best when used to enhance human capabilities, allowing them to offload certain repetitive tasks so they can spend more time and attention on meaningful, value-added initiatives.

Chatbots can help employees with knowledge management, for example, helping them easily access critical information at a moment’s notice. Chatbots can answer simple customer questions without the help of an employee, allowing that employee to focus on more important responsibilities as well.

Smart decision makers approach their initial chatbot projects with this approach in mind. Highlighting the helpful, “human” side of chatbots should be a key point for internal promotion of chatbots as well.

Risk #3: Failing to Prepare Teams for Chatbots

Employees often have misgivings or unrealistic expectations when company leaders introduce chatbots into their workflows. In their 2019 analysis of how chatbots can be used for human resources department functions, SHRM observes that “the biggest adoption challenge is a lack of understanding of how AI and chatbots work.”

Company leaders must prepare employees and highlight the benefits chatbots will provide them as they do their jobs more effectively. For example, SHRM also highlighted a successful case where “80 percent of employee service requests that came into HR were handled by a bot within a month of the technology’s launch.”

Risk #4: Failing to Measure ROI

It is critical for companies to define and measure ROI for chatbot investments, especially to secure and maintain company stakeholders’ support. Like any business investment, this begins with identifying the problems the initiative aims to solve.

No matter the function of your chatbot, some universal KPIs apply. For example, upon identifying the types of queries to which your chatbot must respond successfully, you can compare the results of its responses to those of existing employees. You can measure the quality and speed of the results and the annual costs via similar side-by-side comparisons.

The key is keeping in mind that chatbots don’t simply solve immediate problems—they enable employees to do more with their time and effort by freeing them from tedious tasks. Measuring ROI with this in mind can have a lasting positive impact on the company and future prospects for the use of chatbots in other use cases.

Risk #5: Overlooking a Plan to Scale

Even successful chatbots become unsuccessful when technology decision makers fail to develop an effective plan for scaling the technology. Their success is short-lived and isolated, failing to yield acceptable ROI.

This is an avoidable problem. Decision makers simply need a holistic strategy, not only for launching the technology but for evangelizing its use in the company and plotting a pathway to its long-term success. Small successes early are key, but they should serve as building blocks for applications in other parts of the organization.

Risk #6: Isolating your chatbot and your team for too long

Stakeholders and developers often isolate their initial chatbot project, toiling to achieve some near-perfect status before sharing the results with colleagues. But isolating a chatbot for too long in this way will introduce biases in its training. Without other input, teams may also invest too much energy in a single section of the chatbot that may not be useful in more practical contexts.

Releasing the chatbot quickly but incrementally will improve your chances of success and ensure you are creating value at a faster rate. Start by building a model and asking a small group of people to try it. Then, make improvements based on the conversation analytics, slowly increasing the number of relevant users until you reach full scale. This way, you will focus your efforts on what matters to your users and maximize the value of your chatbot project.

Risk #7: Failing to understand the needs of your end users

This last risk is the most critical. All your efforts will not matter if your chatbot does not serve the needs of its end users. You must find a way to access real data about users and potential use cases early to develop your chatbot successfully.

The key is building closer and meaningful connections with users, increasing their closeness with the project. Start by looking for repetitive support tickets in your system. Consider creating a #help-channel on Slack to see what problems your employees bring up. Look at the messages you receive in Facebook Messenger for frequently asked questions as well. When you identify patterns in the available data, you can use them to identify what will add value in user processes.

As You Prepare, Get the Support You Need to reduce the risk of your chatbot project.

Modern chatbots are transformative technologies, but true transformation starts with people. That means both company decision makers and the employees they rely on to utilize those technologies.

Botpress is more than a technology solution provider. We’re a partner in both the success of your initial chatbot project and the ongoing success of your chatbot investments within your company. Contact one of our chatbot implementation experts today to learn more about successful chatbot project essentials today.

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