Chatbots and RPA are not new technologies, but their growing adoption among business and enterprise shows others the value in time and revenue savings. Creating a more efficient business can be done simply thanks to these tools, but where in the organization and how are key questions to answer.
Chatbots are well known for their ability to save a company with a large customer base plenty of time when it comes to providing quick answers to common questions. But bots are getting smarter all the time thanks to AI developments and businesses figuring out better ways to use their bots in a greater, more valuable role.
Similarly, robotic process automation (RPA) provides a long-standing way for companies to make their processes more efficient and free up workers for tasks that add more value to the business. Again, AI is helping RPA get smarter, and through a combination of tools, RPA and bots can deliver sizeable efficiency gains for any type or size of business.
Many companies worry that these technologies come with high overheads and a need for data scientists, AI wizards or other high-end roles. However, in the as-a-service era, bots and RPAs can be developed as easily in-house or through third-party providers for surprisingly little, while producing impressive returns on investment.
Find business processes to automate
Every business has bottlenecks or processes that people hate working on, that slow or tie the company resources down. Many leaders accept that as the cost of doing business in their market, but increasingly progressive types accept the support of technology or AI to make things better.
Wherever there is a source of delay or lag in the business, causing you to lose revenue, customers or reduced satisfaction scores – and there is data to be handled, bots or RPAs can step in and take up the load. The key to making a bot successful is planning and understanding, whether it is automating steps in the accounting process, speeding up customer support or improving internal approvals.
Every business or department leader should be looking at the data they have available, or can be made accessible. Establish what the company can do to improve performance with the data and what sort of results can benefit the company. How many boring PC-based tasks do your teams perform manually that they wish the machine could do? RPAs and bots can monitor workflows, helping boost productivity and flag up issues faster than existing processes. In most cases, other businesses have had the same problems and solved them with bots or RPAs, creating ready-made templates for others to use.
Easily obtain customer feedback
Both bots and RPAs can be focused on both internal and external tasks, or those that cross the lines between the two. Human resources departments are increasingly using bots for hiring, while they are starting to appear in collaboration tools.
Another area is in customer feedback, where the bot can ask questions after a sale to offer more detail than the usual out-of-five star rating that provides only a broad guide to the customer experience.
In process terms, an RPA can provide sales and contact details for each transaction, and the bot can send a polite query over email, SMS, Messenger or another platform, asking for feedback. The bot can provide focused feedback on the specific areas the business needs to know and bots can also thank the customer for their input (making them feel more valued), or offer to help further if they experienced a problem, improving service performance.
The data from the bot can be aggregated, anonymized as necessary to provide overall statistical trend data, allowing the business to see how performance improves over time. Many businesses still remain wary of the technology, so begin with a small pilot to test how valuable the technology is.
Companies from startups to enterprises are all using AI and machine learning technology, and if your company isn’t it can soon be left behind, outsmarted by digital businesses who use it to simplify and speed up their processes.
Bots build automated marketing
Marketing automation is a powerful tool for any business to help improve the scale or focus of any marketing effort. Whether your business needs to reach out to high numbers of prospects or to drill down and find key likely accounts, automation can help across the process.
Beyond welcoming visitors to your business, social media or website, bots can help create initial market research, qualify the value and quality of leads and provide personalized messages for those prospects to improve conversions and help sell or build loyalty.
Conversational data can also provide further marketing insights, with AI bots analysing live chats, previous call transcripts and looking for clues, pain points and desires that your business can help a customer with. People used to do all this by email, but in the chat and Messenger age, more first contacts and engagement is being done over chat at a pace where the marketing or sales team might miss clues that the bot could pick up.
Next steps to an AI digital business
There are plenty of bot builders and RPA services out there that can deliver the building blocks for your project in seconds, allowing you to design and craft tools. Or, you can get a chatbot or RPA built by experts, using local talent or global services that can deliver the service at a pace and budget you need.
Then, there is a wide range of technologies accessible to pick from. These include big business tools like Google’s TensorFlow machine learning tools, IBM’s famous Watson AI, dedicated bot products like SnatchBot and many RPA tools focused on specific verticals or markets. These bots automate inefficient tasks; speeding up performance.
Tool selection is just as important as building a good service, and you need to ensure it meets legal requirements, avoids vendor lock-in or siloed data that can’t be accessed by other products.
Plan your AI and bot strategy carefully, ensure it meets both customer and business needs, and then build it with the tools suitable for your organization to ensure a successful start in AI and bots that will help your business grow quickly.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.