Bpifrance, a French bank, called on Dydu to deploy a conversational IT bot for employees. Hugo Parlier, ITSM and Chatbot Product Owner, looks back at the chatbot’s implementation and shares plans for future developments.
Can you describe Bpifrance and your role?
Bpifrance is a bank for entrepreneurs. We support companies at every stage of their development. We help them with financing, guarantees, innovation projects, exporting products, international expansion, etc. We also offer training, coaching, and support services.
I’m Hugo Parlier, ITSM and Chatbot Product Owner. I work in the IT department, made up of almost 1,000 people, to meet the needs of Bpifrance’s 5,600 users.
What are the current IT support challenges at BPI?
For the past 2 years, we’ve been in the process of modernising and digitalising the
IT department to provide Bpifrance employees with new tools.
What issues does your chatbot address?
Our tier 1 internal support team, dealing with incidents and requests, was under a lot of pressure, so we had to find new ways to communicate. We wanted to keep the same level of support while providing greater flexibility. A lot of our users were encountering the same problems and we thought that a chatbot could solve this issue. We analysed the top 20 recurring incidents. Our support team already had the knowledge to deal with these topics, which we then adapted to the chatbot.
Take VPN, for example. We regularly get requests for help with this complex technology, especially since the first lockdown. The chatbot has made it easy to provide users with a solution and to help them solve problems by themselves.
The same applies to authorisation requests and access rights management. We integrated a dynamic list that enables users to identify their IT correspondents and contact them directly, without going via the support team. OID (OpenID Connect, an open authentication protocol) also allows us to identify users and personalise the chatbot’s answers.
Why did you choose Dydu?
We benchmarked all the tools on the market and reviewed the existing editors. Dydu stood out for its innovation: its chatbox, integration with Teams, and, more generally, its roadmap. Dydu also hosts data in France and has a competitive offer. Since we use Teams as a collaboration platform at Bpifrance, it makes sense to integrate the chatbot into the tool, so that users always use the same interface. We’re currently working on implementing authentication in Teams.
What scope does your chatbot cover?
Alfred, our IT chatbot, covers user questions and requests related to apps and IT equipment within Bpifrance. We’ve also connected our chatbot to EasyVista, our IT ticketing tool. The chatbot can therefore provide users with tier 1 support for any computer or app problems and create an incident ticket.
How many people manage the chatbot internally and what do they do?
Three people currently manage the bot, including a tier 1 support staff member from my team. The tier 1 support team helped to integrate the chatbot and qualify its knowledge articles. Today, the support team adds and manages knowledge independently. We assist with any technical problems or to implement new developments (e.g. APIs, etc.).
We’re currently deploying a new chatbot for the short-term financing team, to assist all our salespeople in France. We’re helping the team deploy and train their chatbot until they can manage the knowledge by themselves.
After we’ve deployed 3 or 4 chatbots, we plan on reorganising our chatbot team to provide the best possible support and guidance.
How did you build your knowledge base?
The knowledge bases for our IT chatbot and sales chatbot, which is currently in production, already existed. We helped the bot managers with the syntax of their answers and showed them how to use the different features so that they can integrate the knowledge base as soon as the chatbot is deployed.
Which features do you use the most?
The features we use most are the decision trees, side panel, top knowledge, and carousel.
We use the features proactively wherever possible. For example, we’ve added an app status overview to the side panel, using an API, which also informs users of any incidents. This means that users don’t need to create incident support tickets. We also use the chatbot to highlight important information.
Which KPIs do you monitor to manage the bot’s activity?
We support the business teams by monitoring the following KPIs on a weekly and monthly basis:
- Number of dialogues (between 250 and 300 per month)
- Number of interactions
- Dialogue qualification rate
- Accuracy rate
- User rating
- Number of incidents opened via the chatbot (approx. twenty per month)
Bpifrance has an IT portal that users can use to report the same type of incidents as on the chatbot. We’ve found that users still tend to use this portal out of habit. The integration of the chatbot into Teams should resolve this issue and significantly increase the statistics. We also always check that users are satisfied.
What benefits have you observed since implementing the solution?
Our IT chatbot was officially deployed in July 2021. The project is currently in a stabilisation phase. We want to tailor it to users’ needs. It’s difficult to put a number on what we’ve gained regarding the support team’s workload. But we’ve noticed within the IT department that employees use the chatbot more for major incidents, like when a VPN is down. We instantly see a spike in the chatbot’s use, which takes some of the pressure off our internal support teams.
Do you consider the project to be a success? Why?
Overall, employees at Bpifrance are very positive about the chatbot. Users are increasingly aware of the value of getting answers immediately, rather than waiting for support to become available.
I think that the more conversations employees have with the chatbot, the more it will become a part of their day-to-day life and impact their way of working. This transformation has only just begun. When we deployed the chatbot, we carried out an internal communication campaign to raise awareness, but we believe this should happen naturally, through word-of-mouth. We also have change management teams working on the bots. Many users are used to working a certain way, so it will take time for the chatbot to become part of all the employees’ daily lives.
Some of the conversations take place outside office hours, which provides more flexible support.
How do you plan on improving the bot and encouraging its use?
This year, we will deploy 2 chatbots, one for our short-term financing department, which will cover a legal and sales scope, and another for HR. Then, we’ll launch a larger communication campaign within Bpifrance to encourage employees to use them. We want to continue to deploy Teams and to set up a live chat to better meet employee needs. We firmly believe that robots and humans can work together.
Do you have any anecdotes about the deployment of your IT chatbot?
We called our IT bot “Alfred”, after Batman’s butler, so that users would view it as their butler. When we deployed Alfred, we noticed that the question “who are you?” came up a lot, so we decided to create a knowledge article to introduce the bot to users. Alfred has his own avatar, and today IT and other departments think of him as an employee in his own right.
In the long term, we’d like to widen the chatbot’s scope beyond IT.