Hans van Dam of Conversation Design Institute tells us about becoming an expert in Conversation Design.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Hans van Dam: We’re all good. Thanks. I caught the virus early on, but it wasn’t too bad. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Conversation Design Institute.
Hans van Dam: I have a background in copywriting and customer service. When chatbots became more popular, I realized it was my opportunity. I met my co-founder Olaf, who had a background in behavior design, and we started a couple of years ago.
How does Conversation Design Institute innovate?
Hans van Dam: Conversation Design Institute is the world’s leading institute when it comes to conversation design. We work together with conversational AI companies, universities, and enterprises and try to seek alignment within this field of stakeholders to advance the industry as a whole.
As new technologies are being developed, we are training a global workforce that knows how to unlock the potential of that technology.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Hans van Dam: Many of our clients are using conversational AI to reduce costs. They want to automate conversations in service and sales. This means that we have seen a good uptake during the pandemic. We are on the good side of this market shift.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Hans van Dam: For us, the question is always when to invest. With this much uncertainty in the market, we might take longer to make key hires. That we have grown today doesn’t mean that the government might make a change that week that can harm our operation. For us, it’s important that our team stays motivated and stoic. If we would bring in people anticipating growth, and there would be a sudden downturn, then motivation in the team will quickly fade away. Those are the challenges we try to navigate when it comes to human resources. Besides the obvious challenge of having people work from home 🙂
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Hans van Dam: We use our regular CRM system, hop on lots of video calls, and use collaboration tools like Miro for workshops that we run with clients. Our business is a small team that operates globally, so the adjustment to WFH wasn’t that big a change in this regard.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Hans van Dam: The government has not supported us with any grants. Some of our competitors did get lots of funding, keeping them afloat. This has obviously harmed us. The talent pool isn’t too big in our field, so the government stood in the way of us making some good hires by supporting other businesses when they were about to collapse. I do expect the government to make some funds available for businesses like ours.
Your final thoughts?
Hans van Dam: These are tricky times. People talk about struggling businesses and the hyper-successful ones. It’s important to understand that there are lots of businesses like ours. Doing well enough not to get any support, but at the same time being slowed down every day in operating in great insecurity because of the pandemic.
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