There has been some debate on how to reach high adoption rates for enterprise Virtual assistants (VAs). Based on our experience, here are 8 steps that you can follow to reach that objective. However – before we deep-dive into “how to get higher adoption rates” let me pre-emptively answer a question and also put out a disclaimer.
What is a good adoption rate? – Well, it depends on the context and there is no single magical number that you should aspire for. Overall – you want your Virtual assistant to be at least among the top three choices when a user is seeking support. In most cases, it is possible to reach usage percentages as high as 60% (Resolved by VA/overall issues) – thereby making VA your top channel for auto-resolution of employee issues.
Table stakes – This 8 steps recommendation assumes that the VA product that you are using is of high quality (great NLP, live chat, task automation process orchestration capabilities, etc). Over the last few years, there have been many products that are just not good enough – and our recommendations might not benefit an organization that is using such a product. If the product cannot perform the basic functions well, or its conversational design is not intuitive or its UX makes users miserable – then you should just ask us for a demo of our product.
Having stated these – let us get started with the 8 Step process.
Step 1: Define an “easy to understand” and “broad” scope. The “scope” for your VA means what it will do for the employees. If you choose a very narrow scope – very few employees will tend to use VA. A good scope might sound something like this – “Chat with James for all your IT Help Desk issues” or “Vera can address any HR queries for you”. If you attempt to tell the users that the VA can do some tasks but not other tasks in a specific area, it is highly unlikely that users will remember that. An example of narrow scope might be “James can help you with VPN issues and password reset”. In this example – many employees will come to VA asking for generic IT support help – and will get frustrated
Step 2: Create an AI + Human model. One of the key objectives of VA solutions is to ensure great employee experience. For 70 to 90% of issues,a VA can adequately address any issue – but what about the rest of the issues? What if the user wants to chat with a human? What if there is something that goes beyond the scope of VA? We should think about provisioning human/expert support – both real-time ( live chat) or off-line ( ticketing). Just imagine – if you ask a complex question, and you get connected to an expert right away – that is an experience that creates a fan base for VA and the new service delivery model.
Step 3: Create a good knowledge base. Some organizations have wonderfully documented knowledge articles. Many don’t. This is known as a “Cold start” problem in our industry (at least that is what I am calling it). Some clients want to start the VA without sufficient knowledge articles. That is not a great idea and often results in frustrated users. It is worth spending extra two weeks building the right KB, or even using some standard KBs available (like the KB come with our product) rather than going in with very thin KB and hoping it will work out. First impressions do matter!
Step 4: Location, Location, Location. Like in real estate – you want your VA to be located where the traffic is. For example, if your employees use MS Teams – put your VA on MS Teams. If they visit an intranet webpage every day – put your VA, there. You do not want to make users search for your VA.
Step 5: “Push” functionality: Typically, a VA or Chatbot is a “pull” product. That means users can choose to interact with the VA when they want it. A VA typically does not reach out to employees. However, push functionality is a great way to engage users. For example – in our product, you can assign “micro-training” to the users and they can see this in MS Teams. We can also push “messages” on a mobile app. Again – a great way to engage an employee and give them another reason to like the VA experience.
Step 6: Engage your Opinion makers and top users. In every organization, there are opinion makers and top users. We typically know who they are. Otherwise, just sort in ServiceNow or your ticketing system for top ticket submitters (non-agent) and you will find them. Their opinion and engagement matter a lot. Maybe make them a part of a “core group” that provides you feedback? If there is feedback, do not spend too much time fixing that. Fix it, and let the users know about it, closing the loop.
Step 7: A new service delivery model and support from management: If you are implementing VA for help desk in 2020, chances are that you are not doing so as a fun project. You are doing so to meet some very specific ROI goals which are achieved by changing the service delivery model for employees. This new strategy should pivot the VA as the main channel – and actively discourage traditional channels such as phone calls or even emails. Such a strategy will need support from management – and you should secure that support.
Step 8: Communicate and then some: A new way to get support and engage means people will have to change existing habits. We know what they say about old habits. So please communicate, communicate, and communicate some more. You have a new feature – tell the employees. You make some improvements – go right ahead and send an email. Internal Webinars – why not? Gamification (prizes, winners for most use, surveys) all are very legitimate ways to get employees to use VA as a primary channel.
If you do all or most of the above – chances are you going to be talking at events on how you achieved amazing success. All the best!
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From the desk of Manish Sharma