Conversational AI teams and channels are growing rapidly, which means the demand for product managers on these teams is, too. Just like any new product area, conversational AI product management comes with its own set of challenges. Brian Smith, Conversational AI Design Product Team Manager at Inuit, shares his top 4 tips on how-to be a great product manager in conversational AI.
1. Challenge designers and developers through rapid experimentation
The first thing every product manager should do is get the assistant in front of customers for realtime feedback - constantly.
Design should be seen multiple times during the design process and not just at user testing. The micro-feedback received from customers during this process feeds back to designers and developers for more experimentation before going to the next subset of customers.
2. Break your bot left and right
The goal is typically to put out work that is MVP ready. However, that status quo approach is safe and rarely enjoyable for the customer.
A product manager needs to first push their team to rollout features that can and will break the existing bot. In this way, teams will learn from what breaks and what works. That is the only way to keep the team creative and the customers delighted. As a result, these welcomed failures will lead to a far better end experience.
3. Spread the word
Good product managers are grounded in the day-to-day and focused tactically on the team’s work. Great product managers also make sure to spread the word widely.
This means celebrating quick wins across teams, showing prototypes to stakeholders, and even communicating ROI to leadership.
4. Paint the journey with horizons
It is also important to create a timeline for the entire conversational AI journey. Here, product managers map out capabilities or experiences within the assistant.
Use Brian's horizons framework (below) to create a single snapshot of the customer journey.
Plot out the 3 horizons on a timeline (informational, transactional and conversational) and decide with your team what core functions the experience should be able to do at each using customer insights. Then, assign timelines to each horizon.
- informational: answer bank account FAQs (we are here now) (Q3 2022)
- transactional: help a user transfer funds (Q1 2023)
- conversational: proactively prompt a user to transfer funds based on spending trends (Q4 2023)
Finally, write down and revisit the scope of the digital assistant. This helps everyone design with the user goal in mind and makes any net new requests from other teams an easy decision. Brian says this is very helpful for his teams at Intuit as it sets everyone - leadership, design, dev, data science - on the same page.
You can use this editable template to fill out your own horizons.
Product managers need to think of conversational AI experiences as products and not just features. Thinking ahead and pushing the boundaries of experiences are at the core of the product management role and these tips can be used as a guide to efficiently carry out that role.