How To Beat the Hype and Get Your Boss On Board with AI

Posted by Alyssa Verzino on May 16, 2019 10:33:00 AM


Customer support leaders are generally receptive to new technology that is faster, cheaper and more reliable. What they aren’t onboard with is overhyped tech that promises everything. It’s why AI gets met with eye rolls inside some offices. No one believes there’s a panacea for every support ail. Yet everyday unscrupulous marketers boast of AI as a cure-all. Often, they don’t even have true AI, just basic scripts or data science techniques. They promise big and invoke “AI” in their marketing to stay relevant. These products disappoint and it’s no wonder why the real opportunity of AI get lost as leaders grow wary of dubious claims.

If you want to push the AI agenda inside your company, this is your greatest challenge: overcoming the idea that all AI is actually AI and that it can do everything.

As internal champions move for real, useful AI tool adoption, here are a few key principles to keep in mind.

Use Plain Language.

AI conversations inevitably disintegrate into buzzword-laced back and forths. Sure, some people understand neural networks, generative adversarial networks and the benefit of advanced machine perception – but your boss probably doesn’t. Avoid this by stating exactly what the AI tool actually does. While this sounds simple, for AI, it can be complex. Don’t nod and murmur affirmatives when software vendors discuss their AI. True AI requires a level of system “intelligence”; that is, it can change its programming or responses over time based on real-world experiences. Ask what the AI inside the tool specifically is and what is does. With that, you can simply explain how the AI is a better alternative to your boss or an internal decision maker.

Use A Simple Pitch.

It feels counterintuitive, but the AI sales pitch should be narrow. We’ve established that leaders are naturally skeptical of AI. They distrust what they don’t know. They feel overwhelmed and unprepared to figure out how to apply AI in their business. And for some, skepticism is easier than putting in the time to understand the tech.

Offer a simple pitch for AI use; defining a specific process or workflow that could be improved by the tool. A leader will be grateful for the directive and relieved when they see the specific use case proposed. Forbes reminds AI advocates that executives will start paying attention when there’s a clear use case that matters: “If and when AI graduates from buzzwords to something real that can help me hit my numbers – then, and only then, can I pay attention to it.”

To get to this simplicity, you need to do some homework on possible AI tools for your department or team. One AI research firm recommends three basic questions to answer about a vendor.

  • To whom do they sell?
  • How do they benefit that company?
  • What is the role of AI?

The point of the conversation is to avoid vague statements, or be left with a limited understanding of what a tool does because of fluffy website marketing text. If you read: “We leverage AI to extract new patterns” or “We use cutting edge algorithms to optimize XYZ process”, start digging.

Armed with this perspective, an internal champion can have an intelligent conversation – anchored in a specific ask around a specific tool – with a focused view of improvement. Much easier to get to “yes” here, than by beginning with a general, meandering conversation about AI for customer support.

Eventually, someone will be seen as the pioneer that pushed the AI agenda. Why not you? To help you get the ball rolling, we created this guide on how to sell AI internally and make a career-changing difference.

Topics: AI, Customer Support