9 steps to launching a chatbot successfully so you can aim high and scale fast
If you’re launching your first AI assistant or reinventing an old chatbot, you couldn’t have chosen a better time. It’s never been so easy to dive into advanced AI with no technical know-how, nor has the technology ever been so affordable. Large language models (LLMs) too, like ChatGPT, have revolutionised the way we launch and train AI assistants, making those processes even faster and reducing what is already minimal work you need to do.
On the flip side, there’s also never been so much hype around AI. New tools and platforms are popping up faster than a whack-a-mole on double espresso and customer service leaders everywhere are starting to embrace the benefits of AI automation. It’s important to recognise it might be easy to launch an AI assistant now, but there are appropriate steps to take to make sure it’s highly successful.
Here are the nine steps you’ll need to focus on to get to what really matters to your organisation when you launch an AI assistant for customer service.
1. Define your goals for customer service success
It’s exciting launching an AI assistant. You might start thinking about what’ll it’ll look like or how you’ll choose a name, but before you even select the platform you’ll create it on, decide on the criteria for success to give you the best chance of achieving it. This is the very first and most crucial step because you can use an AI assistant in so many different ways to benefit your business, it’s important to select goals that will make the biggest commercial difference.
Using a framework like Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), your list will likely include one or more of the following:
- Reduce contact volumes
- Increase conversion rates
- Increase customer lifetime value (LTV)
- Improve customer engagement
- Increase customer loyalty
- Reduce contact team resource costs
- Reduce customer wait times
- Get more efficient automation between sales and marketing
- Get better data to help make decisions
- Provide a 24-hour service
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Learn more about customers
Once you’ve chosen your goals, record how your performance sits today, so you can accurately track your progress weekly after you’ve launched your AI assistant.
2. Get your teams on board
An AI assistant is there to serve your customers, but also support your customer support teams, so make sure everyone’s aware of the launch and knows what you’re working towards. By choosing an experienced provider, you won’t need any engineering or technical knowledge to get started or manage your AI assistant, so any team member can become responsible for it knowing the technology part is all taken care of.
If you work in a highly regulated industry, read our extra guidance to help you prepare for conversations and approval with compliance officers where onboarding is especially strict.
3. Create a strong brand connection
Launching an AI assistant isn’t a once-and-done task. It helps to think of it as a new team member more than anything else. It’ll need training and assessment on its path to becoming a true expert in everything you do, so your AI assistant can support your customers in every way, just like the rest of your teams do. Companies like Stena Line Ferries have been using an AI assistant successfully for almost a decade ― your launch is just the beginning.
Effortlessly become a more visible, dependable brand
Using an AI assistant means you can scale your customer service support in a way that hasn’t been possible before. You can be there for your customers 24/7 in any time zone using any language. Your AI assistant won’t ever need a holiday or sick leave and can do all the tasks your agents wish they could do consistently without distraction. Being able to rely on an AI assistant to carry out routine tasks without any input from them means those workers can focus on developing new ways to increase customer loyalty as the favoured brand within your market.
Get your teams and your AI assistant working strong together and you’ll be able to show a unified support service that customers come to depend on. With that in mind, think about the language and style your teams use to speak with your customers and replicate that with your AI assistant:
- Is the language formal or informal?
- Should your AI assistant be soft and caring or clinical and serious in tone?
- Are touches of humour appropriate in its responses, or should they be simple using plain communication?
- What kind of mood might people be in when they get in touch? It’s crucial to recognise how people interact with your AI assistant so you can show empathy in all areas of your customer support.
If you have a marketing team or access to a copywriter, it’s good to get their input, but other great sources of reference are any existing tone of voice guidelines, support call scripts, traditional FAQs, and existing content from your website, emails, and social channels.
4. Think about where your AI assistant will live
An advanced AI assistant can live on any channel of communication, whether it’s your website, a mobile app, smart speakers, a social media channel or messaging platform. Thinking about where your unique customer base likes to hang out and the channels they’re most familiar with, decide where to launch your AI assistant so it’s most beneficial to them.
Meet your customers where they are
Customers now expect seamless support across multiple channels and you can rapidly increase the omnichannel customer experience over time, but you don’t have to go all in from the off if it’s not right for you. For most companies, the contact page on your website is a good place to start since customers that want to make contact are already there. Your website home page or main social selling channel is also a good starting point, so customers don’t have to navigate to a second page to find your AI assistant. Add more channels as you need them — it’s a doddle to add more channels and features, but less easy to take them away.
Take one step at a time to build confidence
Add one channel at a time or focus on one page and, if you’re multilingual, start with only one language, and you’ll get a clear picture of the conversations taking place and the customer data coming in, so you can build quickly and with confidence from there.
Wherever you put your AI assistant, be sure to promote it. Failing to promote your AI assistant is one of the reasons why chatbots fail when they shouldn’t do.
5. Decide who’s responsible for your AI assistant
Launching an AI assistant means you’ll need the right people to take care of it – the guardians of your AI assistant. Anyone working closely with your AI assistant should be a subject expert, someone who understands the heart and soul of your business and is committed to giving your customers the best support. They don’t need to be an AI expert or a writer or a data analyst. With an advanced conversational AI platform so much of the work is done for you:
- You can launch a part-built AI assistant that’s already a specialist in your industry, so you won’t need to craft any initial everyday responses to routine queries, you simply add responses that relate specifically to your operation.
- Or, using a provider with LLM (large language model) capability, you can automatically pull in content from your website and use that to launch an AI assistant that knows everything there is to know about your business, so you can develop it quickly from there.
- The more your AI assistant learns about your customers and what they need, the more suggestions you will automatically receive via the platform to make improvements by adding new responses, channels, or integrations that better serve your customers. Simply accept or reject them.
- Training your AI assistant is also easy with the help of LLMs. On our platform, you won’t need to think of training examples that teach your AI assistant to recognise what your customers need, you can simply generate ideas automatically using AI and click on the ones you want.
- More than anything, whoever is championing your AI assistant must have a customer-first mindset. Are your customers getting everything they need? Does your AI assistant show empathy for your customers? You can check progress and view reports any time on your AI assistant dashboard and report back to the rest of the team.
6. Try out your AI assistant and fail well
Before you launch your AI assistant to the world, make sure you talk with it to try it out and ask others you trust to do the same. Remember, your AI assistant can only answer questions it’s trained on and this knowledge grows over time, but you can make sure you ‘fail well’.
Avoid customers getting stuck in a loop
When someone asks a question your AI assistant isn’t trained to respond to, or perhaps it’s irrelevant to your business ― asking an insurance company what the football scores are for example, make sure your AI assistant still has a response for them:
- Your AI assistant has a default fallback message it sends out when it can’t answer and you can edit this response any time to make sure customers get the most appropriate and helpful response.
- Set up live chat, so your AI assistant can pass customers over to your team if it can’t help or it’s a sensitive subject that needs the human touch.
- Include your contact details as a last resort, or let customers know when they’ll hear back from you, so they always know exactly what to expect next to avoid frustration.
Focus on overall customer experience
You can preview any responses you add to your AI assistant before they go live to check you’re happy with the content, but when you’re testing out those responses, consider what experience your customers are having on the other side. What vibe do they get? Are they left with any unanswered questions? If you’re nervous about customer reactions, you can always soft launch your AI assistant on a more discreet page of your website and go from there, but the sooner you set your AI assistant live, the sooner it starts to learn and then quickly improves.
7. Keep training your AI assistant
Once your AI assistant’s live and having conversations with real customers, it can evolve at a rapid pace and its capacity for learning overtakes anything we can do as humans. It’s vital to keep a human in the loop to check your AI assistant is always operating at peak performance and we do that by offering a conversation review service. That means you get to rely on our expert team to help train your AI assistant and guide your decisions about how you’ll grow it next without barely having to lift a finger; just accept (or reject) the suggestions you’re given.
Top tip: Your teams can also start to use your AI assistance as a reference library since it will learn and remember everything there is to know about everything you do.
8. Prioritise customer feedback
Having an AI assistant on the support team can transform your customer insights:
- How are customers feeling? Ask them to rate every conversation using emojis 😠 😒 😐 🙂 😃
- Where can you improve your service? Customers can tell you about their experience in real time while they’re clearest on what worked well and what could work better.
Real time engagement with your customers is one of the easiest ways to get to know what your customers really think and it’s super easy to do with an AI assistant on the team.
9. Keep measuring the impact of using AI
Once you’re up and running with your AI assistant, it’s time to consistently revisit those goals you set back at the beginning. Are you meeting them? How can you make sure you do?
Act on all the richness of the customer data you get from your AI assistant and make changes to your processes or procedures, to the information you give to customers, or to your products, service and offers any time you need to. Your AI assistant might not be a living, breathing entity, but it’s learning and improving all the time to give you everything you need to improve service. Use it to keep on track with achieving your every goal.
Real world results show progress is fast
In its first six months, Barking & Dagenham Council’s AI assistant spared their overwhelmed customer contact team more than 10,000 calls to ease the pressure and saved the Council £48,000. This gave them more time and resources to work on more rewarding or profitable tasks and in nine months their AI assistant was helping another five of their departments.