What if Spotify was a Chatbot?

By Pat Calhoun • April 11, 2018

As consumers, we’re exposed to artificial intelligence (AI) every day, and it has made our lives immensely better. Look at apps like Waze, Uber, and even Spotify. Their AI engines use data about you, your peers, and your surroundings to provide awesome consumer experiences.

I’m a huge fan of Spotify because I love music. The whole concept resonates with me. Spotify helps me easily access my favorite artists and music. And, more importantly, it recommends artists that I have never heard of but I am likely to enjoy. Funny, it is “spot” on most of the time! These reliable experiences have built trust with me, and that is what has enabled Spotify to get me and so many others like me to pay for a service that is also free.

What a great business model!

For a consumer app to be wildly successful, it must first and foremost address a pain point. Further, it must provide an awesome and consistent user experience that drives adoption. Finally, the user experience needs to hide the complexity of the systems and algorithms behind it. Spotify does all of that.

Here’s How Spotify Works

Below is a screen shot of Spotify on my mobile device. From this you can see that the team at Spotify leveraged design thinking to come up with a clean user interface that makes it simple for me to access the major functions of the app.

From here I can find interesting stuff, new music, radio stations. In fact, it is so easy that I forget that there is a lot of magic going on behind the scenes. Over time it feels like Spotify knows more about me and my preferences than I do, because it can deliver the music that I love yet never knew existed. Spotify allows me to enjoy music, not engage with an AI engine.

What If Spotify Was a Chatbot?

I have been asking myself whether the Spotify experience would be just as good if it were a chatbot? Sure, a chatbot could handle basic features such as “next song” and “pause.”
But what about some of the more advanced capabilities Spotify offers?

Let’s take a look at what a chatbot experience could be if I wanted to remove a song from a playlist…

While this example may feel extreme, it demonstrates that advanced capabilities are not simple to access when exposed via a chatbot, yet that is critical for widespread adoption. If I had to play 20 questions with the interface to access these capabilities, I would most likely not be a Spotify fan. Sure, I would still love the end result – but not the effort that it took to get there.

A Chatbot is Not a User Experience that Drives Adoption

Gartner defines a “chatbot” as a conversational interface that delivers self-help by assisting employees to search knowledge base articles. Vendors with chatbots tout their advances in AI and claim chatbots deliver on employee expectations. But do they really?

The ultimate goal of a chatbot is to reduce the number of knowledge base articles, making them more consumable to employees. Certainly, returning fewer articles is better than more. However, research shows that employees have already voted against the knowledge base experience, with associated call deflection rates below 3% (see “Why Has Shift Left Failed in ITSM — And Can IT Reverse That Trend?”).

The real issue with chatbots is their usefulness ends once employees need help from a human at the help desk. As soon as employees feel the need to pick up the phone or email the help desk for assistance, they have abandoned the chatbot — and are unlikely to use it again.

Maximizing Adoption of Employee Self-Help

We have been trained to expect far less from enterprise apps versus consumer ones. While companies such as AirBnB, Spotify, and Uber are capable of delivering a user experience that garners widespread adoption, enterprise self-help apps fall short and can’t attract more than a 10-15% following. Why should that be the norm?

Spotify has driven adoption through an awesome and consistent user experience, and ITSM self-help needs to do the same with Virtual Support Assistants (VSAs). VSAs need to become the single place employees go to for assistance. Just as Spotify knows my music preferences, a VSA has information about me and my preferences to provide me with a great support experience. When the VSA doesn’t know the answer, it needs to pull a human from the help desk into the conversation to make sure that I get the assistance that I need. And this process needs to be super simple in order to build trust and adoption.

In the end, increased call deflection rates can only be achieved once employees experience a consumer level interaction that is better than calling or emailing the help desk. That cannot be achieved by bolting on a chatbot to a portal. Spotify drove adoption through an awesome app with an intuitive user experience, and ITSM self-help needs to do the same.

Espressive Barista – the Spotify Experience for the Enterprise

If you are wondering if anyone out there provides an awesome and consistent user experience that drives adoption while hiding the complexity of the systems and algorithms behind it for IT self-help, take a look at Barista from Espressive. Barista brings the consumer experience of Spotify to the enterprise.

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