The team first designed a complete personality profile. The chatbot was then fed with facts about the car and taught to find the correct answers to the most important questions. To do this, information from every department involved was gathered, which the team then made compatible with the app. At the same time, the participants initially collected around 6,000 customer responses and analysed queries sent to the Daimler Customer Contact Center over the course of just under a year. This gave the team a detailed insight into the information needs of the customers.
While this took place, the participants set about breathing life into the personality profile. After all, it is important that Ask Mercedes’ unique personality also shines through in the way it answers, sometimes with a wink, sometimes with a bit of attitude. “A lot of users began to grill the app a little bit after they had asked the first few technical questions,” says Stefan Hussman. “We wanted to develop a system that doesn’t just provide information but is also just fun and encourages the customers to engage in a dialogue.” As part of the conversational user experience concept, adesso hired scriptwriters to come up with the most creative and surprising answers possible for Ask Mercedes to give in this situation. Just a hint: Ask about the lottery numbers.
Nobody knows where the AI journey will go next
Ask Mercedes has been available in the initial launch markets of India, Malaysia, South Africa and with a localised version in the USA since the end of 2017. Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong followed in the middle of April. More countries, new models (the app is currently available only for Mercedes S, E, A and C class) and more languages and functions will be added gradually. The functions of the system will also be offered via other channels in the future. The next step will see Ask Mercedes integrated into the Facebook Messenger ecosystem, with content integration into voice assistants Google Home and Amazon Alexa following later. The aim is to enable users to remain in contact with their vehicle at any time and from anywhere. The advantages of the selected IT infrastructure with a flexible middleware are evident even when it comes to expanding Ask Mercedes. Experts can quickly and easily integrate new functions during operation.
There are already several chatbots that perform their services around the ‘intelligent’ information hub. Projects in areas such as CASE, smart or VAN are running alongside the previously mentioned Customer Contact Center. This allows the platform to be gradually expanded with other subject areas.
So that the team can expand the system as outlined, organisational and structural requirements must now be created for a viable long-term positioning. While the first few months of the project focussed on speed and agility, the focus has now shifted to developing stable processes and standardising workflows. The participants are now working together on an organisation that enables the chatbot and augmented reality to be developed further.
Ask Mercedes shows that these new technologies provide the opportunity to think ahead, for example, in order to interactively design communication with customers. What it needs is an IT structure that flexibly cooperates with any development. And, of course, a team that wants to find these paths, as well as see where they lead.