How to deploy conversational AI without any hiccups

Natalie Smithson
AI enthusiast | Tea addict | Focused on using AI assistants to win the working week
chatbot ai success

Customer service automation’s changed. The AI platforms available to you now are smarter, more affordable and easier to use than ever. The question is, how do you get started with them?

If you’re not sure what approach to take, hear mixed messages about the best way to go about it, or just want to make sure you haven’t missed anything, learn from our ten years of experience ― we’re happy to share.

We’ll talk deployment strategy, key considerations to focus on, and how to get ahead of your competitors. Follow this advice to get everything you can out of conversational AI tools to make your service more efficient and customer experience better.

TL;DR

  • Deploying conversational AI means nurturing a whole new customer service ecosystem with your support team and AI assistant together at its core.
  • You’ll need to consistently manage and evolve your AI assistant’s capabilities, so it’s always running at peak performance and in line with what your customers need.
  • Before you start, decide on your strategy (having a customer focused mindset is key), firm up your plans for what happens when, then track your key results from day one.
  • Prioritise getting your APIs in order ready for integration, make sure the platform you choose has all the features you need to scale, take security seriously, and use LLMs safely with an experienced provider.
  • Use the right tools to deploy conversational AI and you can avoid false starts to get ahead of your competition, with 84% of contact centres already using the technology.

What is conversational AI?

Conversational AI is a subfield of artificial intelligence where machines (typically chatbots and voice bots) learn to engage in human-like dialogue. Advanced AI assistants use natural language processing (NLP) to recognise and respond intelligently to what your customers want ― instantly, 24 hours a day.

By 2026, it’s predicted “conversational artificial intelligence (AI) deployments within contact centers will reduce agent labor costs by $80 billion,” says Gartner, making “agents more efficient and effective, while also improving the customer experience”.

Problems and challenges in deploying conversational AI

As AI tools rapidly advance, there’s an overwhelming expectation that customer service leaders will deliver better automated experiences, yet there’s a lot of uncertainty about how to go about it:

  • New competitors are emerging all the time using AI as their ally, so you might already be feeling behind.
  • The more they interact with new technology all around them, the more customer expectations are rising, and they expect you to match the positive experiences they’re having.
  • There’s a LOT of noise out there about AI; it’s hard to work out which products or services are worth your time and investment and nobody wants to get it wrong.
  • Once you’re up and running, there’s also data security to think about, making sure you’re compliant, learning how to measure results and integrate with other business systems…

Where do you start?

The urgent need for effective conversational AI

These days, deploying conversational AI consists of more than just plonking a basic chatbot on your website. It’s more like nurturing a whole new customer service ecosystem with your support teams and an AI assistant at its core. With Forrester reporting 63% of customers “leave a company after just one poor experience,” you often have only one chance to get it right.

How to get started with deploying conversational AI

While creating an AI assistant is now an easy, straightforward task, it isn’t a once-and-done job. You’ll need to consistently manage and evolve its capabilities, so it’s always running at peak performance and in line with the most relevant tasks your customers need it to do for them right here and right now.

Decide on your strategy

It makes sense to tackle conversational AI deployment in stages, so take some time to figure out what you want to achieve. Without a doubt, you’ll find greater success if you adopt a customer service mindset from the start, putting the person who’s going to use your AI-powered assistance front and centre. Decide how you’re going to make it work for them, then let everyone on your teams know what you’re aiming for.

Firm up your plans

AI is advancing at a phenomenal rate and if you don’t plan out what you intend to do and when, it’s incredibly easy to get distracted from doing the core work you need to do to deploy conversational AI ― there will be multiple shiny new things to play with along the way! Stick to this 5-part plan and set yourself some timelines:

  1. Confirm your customer service goals using a framework like Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).
  2. Get all your teams (preferably, your whole company) on board with them before you launch.
  3. Choose a conversational AI platform to create an AI assistant; one with all the features you need to grow.
  4. Decide who’ll manage your AI assistant going forwards, so it’s always learning and improving (you don’t need any technical skill to do this, or can even choose a managed service).
  5. Launch on the channels your customers visit most often, whether it’s on your website, your mobile app, or WhatsApp.

Track your key results

Whatever you do, you’ll need to start tracking your results from the moment you go live with an AI assistant. If your goal is to improve a metric like First Contact Resolution (FCR), know how you’ve performed on FCR rate to date, so when you launch your AI assistant you can track the improvement it makes over time.

Top tip! Track frequently and consistently, so you can monitor and report on progress.

There’s a lot to absorb in the process, so we’ve pinpointed eight crucial aspects to concentrate on to make sure your AI assistant is a huge success.

8 key considerations to prioritise

While artificial intelligence has been around for decades, the way we use it now is undeniably ahead of the curve and shifts and improvements are happening seemingly by the day. To help establish the right processes for deployment of conversational AI, navigate any risks, and truly make your mark in customer service automation, here are eight things to focus on:

1. Trust in momentum not magic

There are lots of reasons why customer service chatbots fail, but the good news is, you can avoid them. Many of the reasons involve focusing on the wrong things or having a skewed expectation of what conversational AI can do for you. AI isn’t magic, even if it looks like it at times. It’s important to go into this knowing your agents and your expert customer knowledge are key to the process. Avoid relying solely on AI or automation to improve customer service and, together with AI, you can transform your operations.

2. Get your APIs in order

Having your AI assistant take on all your routine and repetitive queries, so your support agents can focus on more high-value tasks cuts the pressure on your teams, your contact volumes and your costs. Link it up to all your favourite apps and platforms and it can do so much more for you than send out information. Your AI assistant can handle transactions and carry out tasks that help customers and your teams, but you need APIs to do it, so make sure you understand why APIs matter to maximise your strides.

3. Be sure you can scale

It’s exciting to get your AI assistant live and the sooner it starts talking to your customers, the sooner you start to learn more about what they want to transform your insights. With a continuous flow of customer data coming in, you’ll want to develop and perfect your AI assistant to make it as helpful and relevant to them (and your teams) as it can be, so check your conversational AI platform is well-equipped for growth:

  • Is it easy to add new channels, so your AI assistant can live in multiple places, like your mobile app or WhatsApp, and social media platforms or smart speakers?
  • Do you need a live chat feature to pass unusual or sensitive queries that need the human touch over to your agents?
  • Can you integrate with your favourite customer service tools like HubSpot or Jira, so your AI assistant can handle queries for you end-to-end?
  • Can you review the conversations your AI assistant is having with your customers, so you can find gaps in your service or fix areas of confusion?
  • Can you add images and links or maps and buttons to your AI assistant responses to get people to the information they need faster?

Be sure to check the platform you choose has all the features you’ll need in future to scale and grow your AI assistant, even if you don’t need them yet.

4. Choose your supplier carefully

When you’re ready to launch an AI chatbot, it’s tempting to stick with your telecoms provider if they offer a new chatbot service. Truth is, you’ll pay less, get a more efficient AI assistant and be able to integrate it with your phone system if you use a specialist provider instead. ‘No code’ platforms also aren’t the answer if they don’t have everything else you need to manage and scale an AI assistant, like natural language processing (NLP) to understand customer requests, a human in the loop to control what it can say, and integration, so it can do more to help you.

Top tip! Do your research before you sign up to pay for a platform ― get a demo and a free trial, check the pricing structure, and know you can leave any time if it turns out not to be right for you.

5. Keep control of your content

When your AI assistant is up and running and talking with your customers, you need a way to approve all of its content. Responses to customers have to be accurate, have up-to-date information, and sound like you in terms of the language and tone you use at your organisation. Now LLMs like GPT-4 are being used to transform customer service, you also need to make sure your AI assistant isn’t dragging random information from the internet and can’t be prompted to say things you don’t want it to. It’s vital you know how to bring LLMs into your customer service safely.

6. Take security seriously

Conversational AI allows your customers to talk freely, like they would to one of your agents over the phone. Next-gen AI assistants can speak in 100+ languages, learn to recognise regional variation or use of slang, and importantly, the company specific jargon you and your customers use in conversation. Having a secure conversational AI platform is about more than protecting the data from those conversations. You’ll need account security, compliance regulation, change management, cloud security, vulnerability management and more, so check the platform you choose is safe.

7. Support your teams

Using conversational AI opens up a lot of opportunities for your customer service teams to thrive, but it’s important to remember this is new technology they likely haven’t used before in a professional capacity and it completely changes the way they’re used to working. An AI assistant isn’t a replacement for your teams, it’s an addition to the team and it’s modelled on your best workers, so involve them in every stage of its deployment, let everyone know what’s happening and why. Conversational AI works best when your teams and AI assistant work closely together.

Did you know? 35% of contact requests come in when your customer service teams are offline?

8. Remember the AI assistant represents your organisation

One of the most fun parts of launching an AI assistant is styling it and giving it a name. It should be easy on any conversational AI platform to apply your brand colours to the AI assistant like you would for any digital feature, so your customers have a consistent experience, but the name you choose is important too. To name your chatbot for maximum business impact, check the name is short and easy to pronounce, works fine in other languages, and represents your brand personality.

Getting one step ahead of your competitors

Use the right tools to deploy conversational AI and you can avoid any false starts or stops along the way. Launching an AI assistant is now so easy, so affordable, and so transformative for customer service departments, the faster you dive in and develop automated services, the better.

8×8 found 84% of leaders with medium or large contact centres are “currently using the technology for digital channels”, while CallMiner found more than half of all retail organisations say their “processes are mostly automated”.

“In the new book, Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything, author Martin Ford notes that “nearly every technology startup is now, to some degree, investing in AI, and companies large and small in other industries are beginning to deploy the technology.” The pace of innovation will only continue to accelerate as capital continues to pour into AI development.”
~ Gary Grossman for VentureBeat

Build your business case

Now you know where to start and what to focus on when deploying conversational AI, you’re all set to rapidly improve your customer service using an AI assistant. If you need any help with getting buy-in for that, use our cheat sheet, or take advantage of our 30 day free trial to launch and test out an AI assistant today.

“We chose EBI.AI as our provider because they promised a hassle-free process to deploy an AI assistant on their platform, and they absolutely delivered. Their implementation was seamless, exceeding our expectations. We noticed an instant reduction in email enquiries, thanks to their solution. What surprised us even more was the high success rate from the start, and it's only been growing. Our members have effortlessly embraced and interacted with our AI assistant, and we're excited to expand its usage even further in the upcoming year.” ~ Rachael Pearson, Head of Marketing and Digital for The Camping and Caravanning Club

FAQs

What is conversational AI?
Conversational AI is advanced technology that enables machines to interact in human-like dialogues, enhancing user experience. It extends beyond just chatbots to voice interfaces and messaging apps too. Utilising natural language processing (NLP), it comprehends and responds to user inputs. It's a powerful tool to streamline customer interactions and gather valuable insights.
How does conversational AI work?
Conversational AI works by using technologies like natural language processing (NLP) to understand, process, and generate human language. Users input commands or questions, the AI comprehends and processes this data, determines the best response, and then generates a reply, creating an interactive conversation that feels natural to the user.
How do I build conversational AI?
Building conversational AI requires a clear definition of its role and the problems it should solve. You'll then select an AI platform that aligns with your needs and integrates with your current infrastructure. The next step involves training your AI using real customer questions to ensure it can anticipate and understand user enquiries effectively.
How do I reduce risk in deploying conversational AI?
To minimise risk in deploying conversational AI, establish a clear strategy, prioritise data privacy, and focus on user needs. Regularly test and update your AI assistant based on user feedback and evolving needs. Additionally, use diverse training data to avoid bias, and ensure it's continually learning and adapting to provide optimal responses.