At ASML, we often describe ourselves as “the most important tech company you’ve never heard of.”
Compared to the hubs of the global tech industry, our home city of Veldhoven in The Netherlands may be less well known, but in many respects, it’s just as significant as Silicon Valley, Seattle, or Shenzhen.
That’s because ASML is the world’s only manufacturer of some of the most advanced equipment critical to the production of silicon microchips, the building blocks of so much of today’s digital technology. We’ve some of the world’s finest creative scientific brains amongst our 32,000 people.
Immersed in technology
As ASML’s ServiceNow Product Manager, I’m immersed in technology within a huge technology business. In this environment, it can be easy to focus exclusively on, well, the technology!
But we know that technology is ultimately judged by its value to the user, and the quality of their experience consuming IT-enabled products and services. It’s this philosophy that led us to an important recruitment decision when we were looking at ways to improve our IT support services during a period of rapid growth.
I’m talking about Violet, our new virtual employee. For thousands of ASML employees, she offers 24/7 support, providing instant answers to questions and connecting colleagues with information to make their working lives easier.
Violet is a ServiceNow Virtual Agent, and she is helping ASML’s employees worldwide to get the best out of IT services and support. Her success is testament to the power of ServiceNow’s AI-enabled conversational chatbot automation technology, but also to ASML’s commitment to creating the ideal Virtual Agent persona that would deliver a high-quality user experience, trusted, and appreciated.
We brought together a multi-disciplinary team of companywide stakeholders, to ensure that the needs of diverse user groups were fully understood and catered for in the solution. This team combined IT service desk designers, developers, and engineers with user experience consultants, designers, and content writers, all supported by ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent and product success teams.
We wanted a name that our people would feel an instant connection to. Violet comes from the ultraviolet light in our production process, and, to give her a human feel, we built a persona imagining what she would be like if she were a real person.
We wanted her to be professional and efficient, warm, and friendly, someone people would trust to help them solve their problems. And she needed to be aware of her own limitations, able to connect users to our other channels, including humans when necessary.
Our development program featured extensive usability testing at every stage, involving 3,000 employees across ASML’s business units, providing detailed feedback for our user experience specialists to analyze and develop new features and functionality.
A specialist user experience copywriter ensured that every conversation with Violet used consistent language for ease of understanding within every topic, important for those with limited use of English.
With ServiceNow’s documentation, videos, deployment guides, and Virtual Agent Academy sessions, we learned more about some of the more complex elements of chatbot development and the importance of the research and user testing phases.
Early versions of Violet were keyword-based before we moved to Natural Language Understanding, in which AI is deployed to analyze and understand users’ intent, based on a few initial words at the start of the conversation.
An integration with Teams enables direct access to Violet at any time, great for remote employees working on conference calls. Conversational analytics dashboards that reveal the most and least used conversations are showing a pleasing alignment with the intelligence gathered during the research and user testing phases.
And, while interacting with Violet, if a user wishes to speak directly to a service desk engineer, they can initiate that human contact by selecting Agent Chat.
Within weeks of launch, more than 6,000 colleagues were connecting with Violet, with user satisfaction scores exceeding 80%. The predictability rate – the ability of Violet to correctly diagnose the user’s intent and direct them to the correct topic – stood at an impressive 90%.
And this is only the first version of Violet, we’ll continue to make her even more sophisticated by improving the advanced analytics (AI) technology and by expanding her knowledge base.
ServiceNow has helped us to demonstrate the tremendous value that Violet can deliver for the business. In time I’m convinced that she will play a key role supporting employees with issues and questions beyond IT, by becoming the Virtual Agent for our People Portal, the hub for all employee-related topics.