How to quickly get the most out of your Internal Virtual Assistant
Artificial intelligence-based service bots, in other words conversational AI, have not only broken through as external chatbots for B2B- or B2C customer services, their importance as internal virtual assistants (VAs) within the organization has been strongly emphasized lately.
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The need for Internal communication and support has increased during the pandemic. Organizations waste a lot of time and money when employees search for information from different places and ask their supervisors, co-workers, HR experts, or browse intranets. (We also addressed this issue in the blog Internal Virtual Assistant - Why do you need one? Front AI)
Let's assume that your organization is advanced and you have an internal AI-based bot in use. Congratulations, you have taken a step towards better internal organization efficiency and staff satisfaction. You may perhaps now face new challenges If you don't get the staff to use and trust the virtual assistant. There is always a risk that the bot will remain a marginal solution that will not achieve its goals if you don't pay enough attention to the organization's culture.
In this blog, I want to emphasize some things to keep in mind when making the bot a virtual assistant your "best buddy" who is widely used and always asked first. The most important thing is to create a "bot culture" where the whole organization internalizes and understands that the bot adds value by increasing staff satisfaction, streamlining operations, and making the whole organization more effective.
This list is not exhaustive, and every organization can have its own starting points, but I think these steps are essential to have in mind when creating a corporate bot culture and an irreplaceable VA.
Everything starts with the management commitment
As with all renewal projects, management commitment and example are crucial. The virtual assistant (VA) must be firmly part of the internal communication strategy and have clear ownership. A VA cannot be just a system to purchase, and, after that, it's left on its own with insufficient resourcing. There are no free lunches; if you want to achieve something, you must invest in resources. Besides, it is good to remember that an effective VA has swift ROI, and your experts can focus on more critical tasks.
Easy to approach "Buddy"
The VA needs to be an easily approachable "Buddy" who appears in the right places at the right time, offering its help. The VA needs to feel and look like one co-worker so efforts must be put on the personality of the VA - including the avatar, appearance and tone of voice. In some organizations, the VA is the first support person for new employees, and they are expected to always ask the VA first before asking their supervisor or an HR expert.
Understand the right timing and provide spot-on support
Employees usually seek information precisely when the subject matter in question is relevant to them. When the VA knows the organization annual HR clock, it can be a great tool helping the supervisors to understand which themes they should implement next. What could be better than a VA that, on its own initiative, pops us and tells us that development discussions are approaching, asking if you need help with preparations, etc.
Plan the VA learning journey
Implementing a VA is a journey that can start with finding quick wins and low hanging fruits and continue with a VA which can provide personalized answers. With integrations and user authentication, the VA can fetch information from the back-office systems and databases and update employee data in them.
In the beginning, one rule of thumb is to go broad instead of deep on topics and intents (= the goal the person has in mind when typing in a question) and choose one or a few focus areas for going deeper. Those can be, for example, most requested use cases such as vacation, sickness reporting, and facility management requests. Keep in mind always to have a high focus on expanding the scope and improving the intents. The attitude of the VA should be, "if I didn't know today, then tomorrow I will."
Do not forget the marketing
From an expectation management point of view, the employees must understand that the VA is not ready from day one, and it evolves constantly. One should tell honestly what the VA knows today and what are the following learning topics. The development of the VA must be constantly reported on various channels like intranets, team meetings, coffee room screens, etc. It is also beneficial if the staff are involved in identifying new topics and assisting in the development of the VA.
The marketing of the VA must reinforce the image of the VA as your "best buddy" you can always trust and remind that together we will help the VA become the best expert in the organization.
In the end, people will use the VA only if they feel that VA helps and facilitates their daily lives and that they get answers quickly from a VA that understands their questions.
With the current staff shortages in many industries, it is the right time to consider a VA that serves staff tirelessly and adds value by increasing staff satisfaction and streamlining operations. If you are considering an internal VA, do not hesitate to contact us. Also, take a comprehensive look at chatbots, conversational AI and their related technologies in our Chatbot Guide