In an interview with Tim Warren, COO and Co-Founder of Ambit, we explore the reasons integrating digital employees into your workforce will help you reduce costs, accelerate your teams’ productivity, and deliver unrivalled customer experience.
What is a digital employee and why do they matter?
Think of a digital employee as a computerised manifestation of all of the things that you want in any human employee – but you don’t have to go through the hiring process to get them onboard.
Digital employees have distinct advantages. They never forget anything. They always stay online. They are always available to respond to a message, and they can deal with an unlimited amount of scale – a key driver if you have high volumes of inquiry. They always provide complete and consistent messaging and are not swayed by the emotions of a real person.
Another thing that digital employees are really good at, is retaining huge amounts of information. All of which can be provided to your customer, when and where it’s needed. A human may need to look up the requested information, refer to an outside source, or get back to the person at a later time. Not a great experience!
How did the concept of a digital employee come about?
Digital employees have been around for a long time, however, we didn’t recognise them as employees as such, they were simply just a tool. These tools are now getting so smart and are more human-like – than ever before.
In the past, we used tools to help us with repetitive tasks which, in turn, enabled us to focus on other work. For example, an automatic chicken feeder was invented that drop feeds chickens on a predetermined schedule. This tool could be described as an employee as well, but it’s more of a physical tool.
Digital employees have less of a physical component and are rather a collection of behaviours, not just a tool. This is amplified when you can chat through voice, text, or avatar.
After your first few discussions with a digital employee, you’ll forget that this experience is not actually human. The ‘chat’ experience provides a connection, and a natural conversation. This is where the border of a digital employee versus just a tool lies. And it is at that border where the difference of an employee being digital or human actually doesn’t matter.
How could a digital employee help my business?
If you’ve got someone working on a job that could scale, is repetitive, or has high volumes of inquiry, a digital employee would be a great consideration.
Digital employees integrate into the workforce differently to humans. A person usually carries out a range of different functions, whereas digital employees tend to do best when they have a specialist area. Over time, when you train your digital employee they get better and better at handling a range of tasks.
Some other examples of when a digital employee would be of benefit include:
- When you have thousands of customers or hundreds of staff who need timely answers.
- If you’re needing to provide detailed responses, and where there’s a risk of humans getting it wrong or incomplete.
- In a sales process that requires you to gather information from a customer, like an insurance claim for example.
- In on-boarding new employees and ensuring they have all of the information they require.
- When a customer service or IT helpdesk is overwhelmed with support tickets – especially in level 1 or 2 inquiries.
- When you want to upsell additional products and services via digital channels like Facebook Messenger.
As digital employees are exposed to more and more conversations, they get smarter and are able to deal with a wider array of questions. Through the digital conversations managed via your digital employee, you are able to gather valuable insight. You’ll gain a deep understanding about what people want to interact with you about, how they feel about you, what drives their behaviour, and the questions they continue to ask and what answers are needed.
When you hire a digital employee, you effectively gain a diligent staff member on your team who writes down all the things they don’t know how to do, and then talks to their manager and gets immediate training to learn this. And they never forget what they’re taught.
As a business, you automatically get given customer-centric insights into what’s really important to your customers.
What’s the cost difference between onboarding a digital employee vs a human?
Like any new technology you introduce to your business, there are initial upfront costs. This is not dissimilar to the costs you incur when hiring a real person.
When you decide on a CRM system for your business, you incur implementation costs upfront – these are just a reality. These costs equate to the cost of bringing on a new human employee and knowing that it will take many months before that person is a net contributor to your business.
In the case of digital employees, if it’s a well-known use case (the solution that the digital employee is solving), then the costs may be relatively low. If the problem trying to be solved is more sophisticated, then there may be higher upfront costs.
So the cost difference between a digital employee and a human employee comes down to strategic choice. A digital employee is an employee who will never take a break. It will say what you want it to 24/7. It will never resign. It will never take sick days. It will never go on holiday. It will always be on-brand. It will always be available, on the platforms your customer prefers. And it has a much higher capacity to work compared to a human employee.
What are some of the common pitfalls of onboarding and retaining digital employees?
It would be a mistake to hire a digital employee if you don’t have a strategic commitment to new and innovative technology. You need to commit to the project for the long-term, otherwise, you risk its success.
You’re going to need to assign a champion (staff member) to train your digital employee, and you want to enable it for success. This means putting things in place for an adoption plan, both for your employees and for your customers.
You want to make sure that your digital employee is in an area of demand – it would be fruitless to roll out a digital employee in an area of your business where there is minimal usage or a low volume of customer interaction.
So you should be looking at volume driven areas within your business, where digital employees can support a human. This will give the best quality test on whether the technology is suitable for you.
Also, beware of onboarding a digital employee that does not accurately reflect the demographic or diversity required in engaging and servicing your customer base.
What’s the cost if you don’t onboard digital employees?
Not onboarding digital employees in your business now is an opportunity cost. Conversational intelligence is a technology that’s here for the long term so why delay any upside you could get today?
The IDC 2019 IT predictions about digital transformation show that the majority of returns go to the early adopters of new technology. Why wait?
If you’re excited about innovation and have a commitment with your business to adopt technology that will enable the best possible customer experience, integrating digital employees into your workforce is a way of showing your staff, customers, and stakeholders that you are interested in accelerating your business.
For example, If you have the option of choosing two lawyers: one gives his contact through email or phone, and the other uses only letter or fax. Which lawyer would you choose? The choice would be obvious.
The need for ultimate customer experience is only going to keep growing. Customers expect full service at any time, day or night, based on their needs and not yours. If you’re not providing that experience and service, your business is going to be left behind, or worse yet, you’ll end up in the history books like Kodak, Blockbuster, and those businesses who refused to embrace a new way of operating.
What results can I expect?
Organisations who have implemented this technology have generally seen a 20%+ reduction in inquiry volumes, freeing up staff to focus on more valuable tasks. Even more significant benefits are realised once specific traffic to the digital employee increases.
For example, if a retailer with an online presence has over 20 people a day asking questions and conversing with the digital employee – definite gains will be noticed in the level of customer service provided. The digital employee provides a much faster rate of response, instead of 3-4 days, it becomes 3-4 seconds.
It’s this speed of response that determines how happy your clients are with your service. And in turn, the provision of engagement your customers will keep coming back for.
For a personalised demo of your very own digital employee, get in touch.