Helping an AI-powered Virtual Assistant technology provider in its branding strategy and in defining its value proposition
Botlab, renamed as Cero
Creative Strategist and CX Consultant.
Cero is an automated communication service for the Spanish-speaking markets powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, that aims to simplify and streamline companies’ customer services and appointments booking activities
Market Discovery, Target-Persona, Brand Strategy, Unique Value Proposition Definition, Naming, Storytelling and Design
Interviews, Market Research, Trends Analysis, Benchmarking, Remote co-creative workshops, Copywriting
For chatbots to be broadly adopted by users, it is critical that they are experienced as useful and pleasurable. User perceptions and poor experiences can become a barrier for users and companies adoption of the service. Cero (formerly “Botlab”) is an innovative Chilean technology provider of automated communication services mainly targeting the healthcare sector in Spanish speaking countries. Besides having a name that was directly related to chatbots, Cero found it hard to express in a compelling way its reliability as an automated virtual assistant service and its effectiveness for companies in making their customer services more efficient. As a UX Consultant and Creative Strategist, I prepared a rebranding strategy for Cero and helped the company (i) gain a deeper understanding of their clients (ii) define its value proposition to be translated into an attractive storytelling. Cero has since significantly expanded and grown its customer base from 2 to over 10 companies in the healthcare sector, and from 10,000 communications a month to over 600,000, becoming a widely adopted virtual assistant service in Chile.
The Brief: Botlab contacted me with the following requests - (i) Support in better expressing their value proposition to improve sales in the B2B segment, (ii) Enhance and improve users perception of the virtual assistant services, in a market with significant preconceptions and a skeptical users base vis-a-vis “chatbots”.
As a CX and Strategist Consultant, my role and key responsibilities have been to:
(i) Understand the market needs,
(ii) Conceptualise the brand value and experience,
(iii) Leas and run co-creative workshop,
(iv) Develop and implement design and communication solutions.
Customer base increased, closing contracts with 8 new large health companies.
Communication with users increased 600% in Q3 and Q4 of 2020
Overcome companies skepticism towards the automated virtual assistant technology as a way to improve sales
Botlab (rebranded Cero as part of my consulting project) faced a market environment in Chile characterised by (i) a lack of understanding of the chatbot / virtual assistants technology as well as lack of appreciation of the value of customer experience for the business and (ii) a skeptical B2B market base. The challenge: improving the company’s communication and making their value-adding proposition emerge and transpire vis-a-vis the clients and the end users.
Adopted a framework for innovation to uncover potential clients barriers to adoption
In order to support Cero to transition from the early stage into a mass adoption and well-known status, I adopted the British Design Council's (“BDC”) framework for innovation. Identified as the Double Diamond, it consisted of exploring the market needs more widely and deeply (divergent thinking), and then taking focused action (convergent thinking). The process is divided in 4 main phases organised for this projects as follows:
(1) Discover phase, to frame the issues and challenges faced by the company, gain deeper understanding of market' expectations and needs, and analyse the chatbot positioning vis a vis competition and its target market,
(2) Define phase, to translate the discovery insights into brand and value proposition,
(3) Ideate phase, to provide different brand expression co-designing solutions to the client (naming, look and feel and copywriting),
(4) Deliver phase, to develop and implement the solutions that work best (design and story-telling).
DESIGN PROCESS OVERVIEW
Although this is an iterative process, it is presented here as a linear process to describe the outputs during its various stages.
1) Discovery: interviews and desktop research
To understand, rather than simply assume, what the problem defined in the brief was, the discovery phase consisted of investigating both the management team’s as well as the clients / markets' expectations. I started through interviews with the founders, the early adopters of the product and other clients.
By speaking to the CEO, Founders and the technical team in charge of the technology and product development, I identified the following issues:
Lack business vision alignment
survey with a sample of 635 responses.
Poor understanding of the market and the core functional job they were trying to get done.
Difficulty in expressing the value the company delivers to their clients.
Lack of experience in supporting sales in industries different than healthcare.
Early adopters of the product indicated that more than the product, the company mindset and service was the most valuable asset of Cero:
Cero was perceived as an advisers and co-creative partner that was willing to find ways to improve Company’s processes.
Cero management team was composed of visionaries that challenged the status quo.
Cero was committed to offer a human centred technology.
Cero team was agile, flexible and was providing fast responses to requests.
In addition, I Interviewed heads of marketing, sales and customer service managers to gain a deep understanding of what they were trying to accomplish (the job they were trying to get done). Beside the market discovery, I gathered valuable input from current clients' that had already adopted the new technology. Results pointed out:
Lack of awareness and appreciation of the positive impact on business growth and sales of better customer services.
Poor perception by end-users of the virtual assistants / chatbots experience (mental barrier).
Lack of understanding of the technology by the B2B segment.
Existent in-house solutions in IT departments
Extracts from Interviews about the market perception:
“The Call center in the Chilean market is perceived as an expense that does not add value to business. Thereby, most of the companies look for any cost-effective solution, instead of service and good standart.” - Pablo Magerkurth, early adopter.
“My work is to convince the company executive committee that investing in customer management will make a positive impact in costs, but even more in revenues.” - Paloma Vera, Product Manager.
“To be able to choose the best solution from the market, I had to learn the concepts. This effort is not something that anyone would do. The pragmatists managers prefer the solution in a box”. Sebastián González, Deputy Manager Alliances and Business Development.
"We have a quite seamless customer journey, but we could do better. Currently we fail in the omnichannel service, where customer information is not centralized. Each business area manages its information in different platforms.” – Maria Serrano, Marketing and Digital Communication Manager.
The information gathered through the interviews allowed me to create target-personas that reflected the new technology adoption in order to improve the company's customer experience and to identify opportunities worth pursuing.
Extreme users were identified as (i) high performing and (ii) underperforming companies. High performing companies embraced new technologies, leveraged feedback and used data analytics. Identified for the project under the name “The connected”, they used users' data collected from new technology to collaborate across business areas and gain insights. On the other hand, underperforming teams expressed no interest in gathering users feedback to improve the customer experience. Identified for the project under the name of “The disconnected”, they connected unidirectionally with customers by sending newsletters.
In the middle, three target-personas were identified and separated according their mechanisms in adopting innovation: (i) The skeptics who only trust on a proven UX performance technology, (ii) The practicals, who wants their UX performance implementation to be quick and easy to apply, and (iii) The testers, looking for solutions to improve and optimise their UX performance management.
Market research and competitive analysis
A comprehensive market research was performed to contextualize the company in (i) tomorrow’s society in terms of purpose as well as (ii) in terms of brand positioning vs. competition. A trend analysis and a benchmarking exercise was conducted against other similar comparable services / companies.
The main insights obtained from the Accenture-Fjord Trend Report analysis were:
For decades, companies have been singular in their aim: financial growth – and the faster the better. Now, investors and customers are pushing to evaluate activities against other measures of growth as well, perhaps through environmental, social or governance metrics. Companies will need to think about how to define new types of value they can deliver while making the profit required. The redefinition of growth offers an epoch-changing opportunity to imagine new ways we can create and celebrate value.
The flipside is about people’s reassessment of themselves, the lives they lead and their impact on the world around them. We are all starting to question what it means to be a customer and an employee. What’s beyond consumerism? What’s beyond the notion of work simply as a means to make a living? We’ll need to start reimagining business offering for the era of conscious consumerism, while helping people navigate anxiety around ethical choices.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming more widespread and adopted. While, at first, it was largely used to improve efficiency through smart automation, its next iteration will be more about adding new value and supporting human decision making every day. If we can design systems that effectively blend people’s skills with AI, we’ll be able to create disruptive business strategies, empower people to cope with increasing complexity in the workplace and enhance the human experience.
People’s focus on desirability, viability and feasibility is moving from “me” toward “we”. As this accelerates, user-centered design will feel increasingly selfish and design’s emphasis will make a switch in favor of design for all life.
On the other side, the main insights from the market research and benchmarking exercise comparing the communication and positioning of the main virtual assistants technology providers and chatbots (i.e. Yalo, Zendesk) were:
Botlab had an image and communication / value proposition which was too technology centered and not user-centered. Successful virtual assistants technology providers were more effective in putting the end-user benefits at the centre of their value proposition
Botlab did not effectively leverage data on users for insights and strategy definition and did not leverage effectively data as an additional component to the value proposition to potential clients in the B2B segment
The result from the benchmarking analysis was that Botlab had to increase its orientation towards users and the utilization of data / analytics for business intelligence.
2) Define: Brand definition and value proposition
The brand definition exercise relied upon the use of a “brand compass” for Botlab that connected each target-persona needs (trust, simplify, optimise) with the company’s assets and value proposition:
Raise confidence and trust in the reliability of the technology, leading to wider users and companies adoption.
Provide optimal and emphatic customer experience through the use of virtual assistants.
Increase effectiveness of customer services and save time and money due to missed / rescheduled appointments.
3) Ideate: Naming, Look and Feel and Copywriting
One of the fundamental parts of the re-branding activities was the definition of the new company name and new story-telling, to incorporate the key insights from the market and users needs research and analysis.
The naming process involved the organization of a co-creative workshop and brainstorming session to allow for a collegial process in the name selection. The preliminary shortlist of names arising from the ideation phase:
AYO, AIO, AWLO, AVLO, WITOK, LAICA, BLACKAI
Even though the results didn’t express strongly enough the Brand Compass and the team was not feeling satisfied, the co-creation activity helped to align visions and come back to empathise with the audience:
"They need focus on expertise and responsibility."
"What ends up selling is the promise of efficient, flexible and reliable."
"That the human and the serious must coexist."
With this input and through a mindmap, I wrote down as many new names as possible. Between the alternatives my client analysed were XXXY, Elipse, and Cero. The first alternative was appreciated for being challenging, unusual and based intriguingly on the human chromosomes. On its downside was considered but too cryptic and hard to pronounce.
The second choice represented best the commitment to both the client and the final user, reflected symmetry and responsibility to its relationships, but lacked a sense of flexibility. Ultimately Cero was selected as perceived to reflect the brand strategy best:
Simple and easy to memorise.
Human and empathic: Cero has a mathematical assonance, but at the same time makes the number zero “closer” to people: In Spanish the zero is written with the letter “c” which has a rounded shape, which makes it more organic and more human, thereby becoming more empathic.
Humble as the lowest number.
Scientific and accurate as the efficiency and reliability of the technology delivered.
With this tone of voice definition, it was possible to write an appropriate copy that helped increase brand awareness and ultimately invited new customers to adopt Cero. Based on the insights gained during the discovery phase, I framed the key message for the storytelling towards the business clients as “Adding Cero will increase your numbers”.
4) Deliver: Develop and implement
Together with Sebastián Rodriguez, a Graphic Designer, we developed two visual brand identity alternatives, which were remotely tested with 9 Contact Managers. Having seen how each design performed, we chose the first version. The chosen brand identity design aesthetic is bold, simple and empathic. The typographic logo was built using geometric and circular forms to support the technologic excellence and human centred approach. The color palette enhances the idea of easy to use, employing a basic select range of colours to accent the design.
To help customers understand Cero’s value proposition and find everything they needed without much effort, I developed an Information Architecture. After writing the content strategy from a storytelling point of view, I defined the site navigation structure, and organised the following sections in the Landing Page:
(i) Welcome –tagline, service’s brief description and button call-to-action,
(ii) Reason to believe 1 –early adopters Brand Logos,
(iii) Service and Product functionality description,
(iv) Reason to believe 2 and 3 and –Achievements and Testimonies,
(v) Call to action –Free Demo.
From the menu, as a second level of information, people could find two other pages containing (i) service details, and (ii) team approach, history and principles.
New brand image and story-telling establishing Cero as a human centred AI-assisted automated communication technology
Cero is an automated communication service for the Spanish-speaking markets powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, that aims to simplify and streamline companies’ customer services and appointments booking activities. Its unique value proposition consists of three main aspects: (i) effectiveness,(ii) human centred technology and service, and (iii) flexibility.
Using 5 different analytical tools sources (MobileAction, Predictable Media, Firebase and others), the results show that the app has:
233.197 total app downloads with an market average rate of 65% uninstalls
142.990 unique active users using the app 3 times a month
4,9 rating performance in Android and 4,5 in IOS when 5 the maximum grade
49% visibility score