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How Do I Get More ROI Out of My IVR, Voice, or Chatbot Platform?

Getting more out of your IVR and chatbots

You’re expected to meet escalating customer experience expectations and manage costs at the same time. Conversational AI systems like IVR, voice, and chatbots are supposed to help, but often the outcomes don’t live up to the promise. So how can you maximize the ROI from your Conversational AI?

It’s tempting to turn to your tech team or vendor and demand better results, or look for a new platform that will solve the problem. But the platform is just that: it’s the foundation you build on. It’s what you do with that platform that nets your return.

In this article, I’ll show you how to spot the problems that might be affecting your bot workforce, and some simple techniques to coach and help them improve. Just like you would with your own team.

How Problems With Your Bots Affect Your ROI

Everybody says they want a better customer experience and lower costs. But how do you get that? The answer is to get the right team members, bots and humans, doing the right things and working together seamlessly.

The goal of your contact center is to get customers to a skilled agent who knows how to help, or a bot that can do the job just as well. Your bot workforce and your human workforce need to work together to achieve that goal. For your human agents, you’ll routinely spend time listening to their conversations with customers, watching their performance metrics, and coaching and training them to do better. You need to do the same for your bots.

What’s Causing Problems With My Bots to Begin With?

Bots can do exceptional work in the specific areas they’re designed to operate. But four organizational issues can make things really difficult for your bot:

  1. Lack of maintenance and updating. Just like your human workforce, you need to keep your bots up to date. Let them know when a new product launches, or a process changes. Your bots won’t figure these things out on their own!
  2. Uncontrolled changes. Conflicting instructions will undermine the confidence and capability of your agents. Same with bots. You wouldn’t let anyone and everyone from across the business tell your agents what to say. You need to apply the same standard to your bots. Uncontrolled changes have unintended consequences.
  3. Technology problems. Sometimes, your agents can work around problems in the CRM. Bots can’t. So watch out for changes in the backend APIs that will have Bots spouting garbage to your callers.
  4. Poor conversation design. You need to bring in an experienced conversation designer to address this issue.

Chances are that some or all of these problems are already undermining the performance of your bot workforce, so how do you figure out what needs fixing?

Apply Your Existing Management Skills to Your Bot Workforce

Among your skills as a contact center or business manager is the ability to listen to and work with your human agents to uncover problems and cultivate your team’s skills. You know how to hold effective one-to-ones to identify areas of improvement as well as growth opportunities.

Just as you work closely with your human agents to optimize their performance, you can work closely with your voice, IVR, and chatbots to do the same—with a few tweaks. Your bots can’t tell you what problems they’re having. So how do you apply your existing skills to effectively manage your bots?

  1. Listen to call recordings and read chat transcripts. With a human agent, you’d probably just do side-by-side call listening or chat monitoring. With your IVR, voice, and chatbots, listening to their interactions with customers and reading chat transcripts serves the same function. Get your tech team to pull a selection of whole call recordings, or chat transcripts, so you can review the interactions your bots are having with your customers. You’ll learn a lot.
  2. Mystery shop your bots. Mystery shopping is a great way to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and experience what they experience. You can do the same with your IVR or chatbots. Just call up and pretend to be a real customer. To really get a feel for things you’ll need to have an end customer account or actually go buy and return an item to see how your bots handle things.
  3. Dig into data. Your bots can’t tell you what they’re struggling with, but you can learn a lot from digging into the data. Are you getting a lot of internal transfers? That could mean there’s a routing problem. Or are people dropping off the call or closing the chat session mid-task? Could mean the bot is getting stuck. When you see these problems, go back to the call recordings, chat transcripts, and mystery shopping to understand what’s really going on.

You’ve Identified the Issues with Your Conversational AI. Now What?

You don’t need to be a techie or a conversation design expert to spot problems in your bot workforce. Just treat them like you would a human workforce. You know what good performance looks like. You know the kind of experience your customers expect and you want to deliver. And hopefully this article will help you see where your bots are falling short. But how do you fix the problems you find?

If your bots are basically doing the right things, but not understanding the customer or being understood themselves, the answer could be to update your bots with a better conversation design. But often the problems are deeper. You wouldn’t hire a bunch more agents without a strategy for what they’ll do, what skills they’ll need, and how you’ll measure and manage their performance. Same goes for bots. If the problems run deeper, you probably need to build a better Bot Strategy.

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