Chatbots and virtual assistants (VAs) may be built on artificial intelligence and create customer experiences through digital personas, but the success you realize from them will depend in large part on your ability to account for the real and human aspects of their deployment, intra-organizational impact, and customer orientation.

Start by treating your bots and VAs like employees. AI-powered systems need to learn the specifics of your data, customer behaviors, and key performance indicators (KPIs) before they can generate the results you seek. So take the time to train them. And give them a personality that is brand-compliant and meets the preferences of your customers.

Make sure you consider the impact this new technology will have on other groups in your company. Sales may feel threatened, since bots and VAs are so good at automating many of the tasks their BDRs may be responsible for — such as chasing down leads and scheduling appointments. You need to help sales understand how this will free them to do more important work — like generating more SALs. You should also engage with every group that has a stake in how your company communicates with prospects and customers, such as HR, risk, and legal.

Finally, don’t just fill this new engagement channel with the same old promotional messages and sales tactics that burned out email and forms and calls. This is a great opportunity to see things through your customers’ eyes — which is a key part of what Forrester calls “customer obsession” — and use your chatbots and VAs not to sell, but to help your buyers buy.

It’s an exciting time to be B2B marketer, isn’t it?

Forrester clients can read more about this topic in my report “Success With Bots And Virtual Assistants Depends On The Human Element.”

Image credit: D J Shin