By James Whatley, Planning Partner - Innovation at Ogilvy & Mather London
In January 2016, the entire Ogilvy UK group moved to into its new home at Sea Containers, on London’s Southbank.
Across the 13 floors of our beautiful new building, there are nine operating companies, 1600+ employees, and around 80 different meeting rooms.
Of course, being a creative agency the rooms were given names like ‘Opportunity’ or ‘Verve’ or ‘Squad’. Not kidding.
The net result of this meant that for pretty much every meeting you had anywhere in the building, you ended up spending the first ten minutes of said meeting wandering around various floors crying out to people: ‘Does anyone know where ‘Hubble’ is?!’ or ‘I’m told ‘Pugwash’ is on level two, is that right?’ or ‘Where the hell is ‘Drake’?!’
Fast forward a few months and I started messing about with a few bot-building platforms (my initial project was to build an AI version of our CSO, Kev Chesters, but that’s a chatbot story for another time) and halfway through investigating one of them one afternoon, Roombot was born.
What is Roombot?
Roombot is a Facebook Messenger Chatbot built specifically to help Ogilvy UK employees find the location of their next meeting.
Why does Roombot work?
A few reasons:
a) Roombot is super-silo’d: it answers a very specific user need. ‘Where is my next meeting? Argh!’ was a real problem that 90% of our employees were facing and the impact on day-to-day business was genuine and impactful.
b) Roombot is simple and easy to use: you type in your room name, it gives you directions. Easy. Nothing bigger than that. It starts small. Moreover, as Sea Containers has a finite number of rooms, the names and locations of which are all known, Roombot becomes a very simple to understand proposition.
c) Roombot has personality:
Most (not all) room directions have something similar/fun attached to them. The important thing is that, across all responses, the directions come first. Answer the user need then surprise with wit/bantz/sass.
Bots are great but Bots that solve problems and sound human are fun.
What has Roombot’s take up been like?
We soft-launched Roombot very slowly: OpCo by OpCo. O&M went first, then Ogilvy PR, then Healthworld etc etc… We slowly uncovered missing rooms, incorrect directions, and odd user habits (‘I love you, Roombot’ now has a programmed response, for example).
Once we’d gone full-building, Roombot hit around 300 active users straight off the bat. Today, it’s just over 500.
Roombot is used pretty much every day by our employees — for rooms, Wifi details, and even finding out what’s for lunch.
Furthermore, Roombot is now featured in the Ogilvy UK welcome pack to new employees and I’m led to believe that a number of clients also have it on their phone too.
At Ogilvy UK we find solutions to problems. For our clients mostly but sometimes just sometimes we solve some for ourselves too.