Your Company's First Steps into Chatbot Technology
Decided the chatbot technology deserves your time? Great. Let's talk about your business' first steps into our world.
There are a few things you need to be aware of and ready for before getting started. In this article, I am going to cover everything your business needs to think of before jumping in.
I am going to assume you are on the marketing side of your business. Like I very often write, I believe marketers are at the forefront of new tech adoption and thus, more than some other departments, need to understand it.
Alright, let's get started.
Chatbot technology: Preparation (Step 1 to 4)
Your first steps will be about preparing your business to enter this new world. Just saying 'we need a chatbot!' won't magically make things appear (although your CEO might think it would).
What do you need to prepare?
1. The purpose
Your chatbot needs a purpose. Before doing anything, ask yourself why you want it. This step is incredibly important because it is going to dictate every step afterwards.
Your chatbot's purpose could be to improve sales, reduce HR workload, or simply to raise awareness through innovation.
Whatever it is, you need to know it before you do anything else. Chatbot technology is not just new, it can also be expensive; no one wants to spend a lot of money on something that doesn't actually have any purpose.
2. The internal research
Now that you know what you want your chatbot to achieve, you need to start talking to people (huh, humans!).
Imagining you would want your chatbot to increase website conversions, you would need to talk to your web analytics team (or your digital marketing team, or your CRO team). The same principle applies to an HR bot (talk to HR), a customer support bot (talk to customer support), or an accounting bot (talk to Keith. He is your accountant).
Your goal with this step is two-fold.
First, you need to make the department aware of your idea. They might have all sorts of objections, ideas, or thoughts to give you. In our experience, this is an extremely fruitful experience.
Second, you need to know if your idea matches a pain they have. Do they think they need it? Do they think it would slow them down? Make them work faster? Worry them?
Internal research is all about feedback from the actual people the chatbot is going to help.
3. Dig through chatbot technology history
Do a little bit of research about your industry and the chatbot idea you have in mind. Has anyone done it before? If yes, what did they do right or wrong?
Don't research chatbot building companies just yet. This is all work you can do without talking to someone external.
At the moment, you would be hard-pressed to find another company in your sector that has developed the exact same chatbot idea as you (if you do, let us know). However, it is always good to read a little bit about how other people do similar things.
4. Talk to the boss(es)
You are about to reach out to developers about your project. You are almost there. Now is the time to give a slight nudge to your boss(es).
Present your idea and the research you have performed so far. This doesn't have to be a super amazing presentation with slides, pie charts and 5-year projections.
Just present your idea and ask for feedback. Your goal in this step is to get them to have your back on this project. You also want to know if they absolutely don't like it at all, in which case you would save a lot of time.
Having a chatbot developed for your business can be an expensive endeavour, expensive enough to require the approval of your CEO. Make sure he or she knows what is happening from the start.
Outreach (Step 5 to 7)
You have done everything you could do internally. Now it's time to find and reach out to some chatbot building companies.
5. Do your research
I am not going to teach you how to Google stuff. Fire up your browser and get to work.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Make sure you use your initial purpose research. Don't just look for an 'AI chatbot builder', look for an 'HR chatbot building company'.
- Do extensive website crawling of anyone you think would be a good candidate. Look for evidence of knowledge (blog, resources, etc.) and case studies.
- Keep it contained. You won't find 10,000 companies anyway, but try to stick to 3-4 viable candidates.
- Use this article to narrow down your research to only the very best.
6. Reach out
Get emailin', callin', or Slackin'.
Organise a quick 15-30min call with each company. The purpose of that call will be to present your project and see if they can help you.
I urge you to grab this chatbot developer evaluation worksheet. It will help you ask the right questions and score the people you talk to for future reference (it will also make you look super prepared).
7. Organise your thoughts
You have each chatbot developer's rate card at hand, now is the time to narrow it even further.
Which one impressed you the most? Which chatbot building company seemed worth moving forward with? Which dev did you seem to bond more?
The goal of this step is to narrow your research down to one provider, someone you can bring to your boss.
Let the fun begin
Congrats, you have made your first steps into the chatbot world! High fives all around.
Now the fun begins.
Since you have a real purpose for your chatbot, your boss' approval, your team's support, and the extensive research you have performed, you can now present your project to everyone.
That's right; your chatbot idea has suddenly turned into a chatbot project.
Get everyone in a room (chatbot dev company included) and get talking. What happens next?
- Talk about branding: 'who' is your chatbot?
- Benchmark your performance: what does your chatbot have to beat?
And much more. Fun times!