5 things you need to know before investing in an AI product
Updated: Jul 29
AI products promise countless benefits, including operating cost reductions, better user experience and, most importantly, contact volumes reduction while meeting rising contact demand. But, how to make sure the product you select delivers on these promises?
Many people say chatbots, we say AI assistants. Why? Chatbots (or virtual and digital assistants) are often scripted and can only cover a single or a few topics. Some suppliers describe a simple live chat, where users interact with an agent, as a chatbot, and this confuses the market further. However, what is also broadly understood as a chatbot, includes an enhanced functionality solution that comes with robust artificial intelligence language models. We call it an AI assistant and will refer to it in this text.
LANGUAGE MODEL AND HUMAN PARITY PERFORMANCE
Like many modern organisations, you realise that to provide quality service in the digital world, you need some sort of automatised self-service accessible to all customers. But which one? When you're deciding on an AI vendor, start with the basics. Is their product accurate? People engage with AI assistants to get answers quickly. AI is considered intelligent if it parallels human capabilities. So, what makes AI capable of answering questions well?
Look to an AI assistant that comes pre-trained in thousands of questions. This way it will only require minimal training for bespoke engagement. Language models are how well it understands the way people speak and ask questions. The larger its language model, the better the performance. It also leads to rapid deployment; because it comes built knowing the subjects your users will be asking.
Remember, training an AI assistant yourself is costly, time-consuming and requires advanced knowledge. This also applies to your assistant's performance after you've deployed it – who manages the on-going monitoring? Who fixes bugs and performance slumps? Does it have access to multiple knowledge sources? Is it regularly updated to maintain high performance and avoid system degradation?
ETHICAL COMPLIANCE AND INCLUSIVITY
AI assistants make a difference when they are accessible to a diversity of users. Inclusivity is a legal requirement for public institutions, and it’s critical for creating a fair working environment. Invest in products with a minimum WCAG 2.1 AA compliance certification to reduce audit risks and spend less time troubleshooting.
As a public organisation, you must consider the need to serve people from different cultural backgrounds - English is not the main language for 4.3 million people nationwide. Finding a multilingual customer-facing AI product that provides a contact point for those who cannot speak to your agents elevates your service quality and creates a better world for all residents.
Speaking of service quality, users are people, and they appreciate appropriate behaviour, even from AI. When shopping for a public-facing AI assistant, verify its ethical compliance. Does this assistant recognise humour? Will it recognise desperation or confusion? Will it react to subversion, provocation or profanity appropriately? And if so, will it protect your image or threaten it?
QUICK DEPLOYMENT AND EASY HANDOVER
Most of the UK's public institutions work within the Microsoft framework. When choosing an AI assistant, make sure it integrates simply into your existing infrastructure. Working with the software you already use makes deployment and usage of AI that much simpler.
With no additional agent software needed for human-handover, your new AI can integrate with Microsoft Teams and build automations on the Microsoft Power Platform, reducing delivery risk thanks to support from Microsoft and its partners.
Convenience and ease of use is just one benefit - integration can affect the ROI in a big way. Considerable savings are possible when you compare to non-integrated chatbot solutions that need a lot more additional infrastructure to run properly.
BETTER CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
All customers will prefer one channel over another. Our research shows that nearly half of them prefer after-hours contact! Consider this while shopping for an AI product. Investigate whether it can handover to live chat. Verify if it can expand to phone, social, email? Future-proofing your AI service and delivering digital contact to diverse demographics can save money and provide highly personalised customer experience.
PART OF YOUR TEAM
And finally, remember that your AI assistant will become a member of your team. Use it but also to learn from it. With quality analytics, it can give deeper insights into users' behaviours. This way, not only does it provide hands-on user assistance, but also helps you adjust your services based on real people and real results.
And remember the big picture:
"Public sector organisations need to communicate at a population level. With shrinking resources and growing demand, they are under great pressure to do so digitally. With quality AI deployed on various points of contact, routine requests are answered instantly, allowing staff to focus on work where humans are irreplaceable.”
Martin Neale - CEO, Founder and Co-inventor, ICS.AI
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