The Royal Navy is now providing “better and quicker” information to younger candidates with a new conversational AI assistant, developed in partnership with Wavemaker UK, Voxly Digital and the Navy’s digital programme partner, Great State. The project is the Royal Navy’s first major launch since Wavemaker retained its account in August 2022.
Accessible via the Royal Navy website, the Royal Navy Virtual Guide has been created to ensure its information and processes resonate with the changing needs of a new generation of potential recruits. “We’ve seen huge change in the needs of our users considering a career in the Royal Navy over the last few years” David Chandler, Division Director at Great State, explains. With increasing expectations from Generation Z to provide a more hyper-personalised and hyper-convenient experience, the Royal Navy needed a new approach that would ensure it stayed future-fit to meet audience expectations.
Using sophisticated data and technology, this innovative extension of the Royal Navy Recruitment team will change the way candidates are communicated with, enhancing how they access career information and advice. The Royal Navy Virtual Guide will provide applicants with individually tailored journeys, content and nudges as they navigate their way through the extensive information currently held on the RN careers website. With over 100 roles available in the Royal Navy, it will assist them to explore the career path that is best suited to their needs, ambitions and experience. It can even help candidates to complete their application form within the chat interface to kick-start their joining journey.
By leveraging sophisticated natural language processing models, the Royal Navy Virtual Guide can answer open-ended questions from potential candidates. The assistant gets to know candidates through conversation and provides dynamic answers, proactive content and nudges based on who they are and how far along the journey they’ve come. Answers vary based on age, gender, interest and level of commitment; ensuring that every user will have a unique conversational experience with their own personal virtual guide, helping to build trust over time.
“A key part of this project was ensuring we developed a supportive and inclusive innovation service” commented Rozzi Merrington, Head of Applied Innovation at Wavemaker UK. “We actively baked in Inclusion into the research, design and testing of the service and have worked hard to develop a Virtual Guide that actively addresses potential hesitancy and perceptions that more diverse audiences have about a career with the Royal Navy or Royal Marines; reassuring them that they will be both wanted and welcomed.” This will help the Royal Navy in its goal to drive higher quality candidates and increase applicant conversion.
Paul Colley, head of marketing, Royal Navy, said: “Solutions like our new AI Virtual Guide allow us to communicate in a 1:1 way for our website visitors, delivering the right content, to the right person, at the right time. This complex project has been a brilliant collaboration between our partner agencies. And we’re only at the start of an exciting roadmap. Our ambitions for this solution are long-term, and I look forward to seeing its capabilities developing over time.”
Ravi Lal, founder of Voxly Digital, said: “We believe that conversational AI is one of the key technologies powering and underpinning improvements for large organisations like the Royal Navy. After all, with 24/7 support, rapid response times, and the freedom to ask direct questions at any time, it will be no surprise that users will choose to interact with a proposition like the Royal Navy Virtual Guide now and in the years to come. Being the face of the recruitment journey means it’s important that we built the most personalised, friction-free experience possible.”
Rozzi Merrington added: “Whilst the advent of Large Language Models like GTP-4 have recently focussed the world on conversational interfaces and their potential, it’s an area which Wavemaker UK have been working in for some time. We’re delighted to have helped the Royal Navy take a first – and colossal step – in this space, leveraging innovative technology to solve some of its core challenges. David Chandler added, “This programme is an excellent opportunity for us to test, learn and iteratively build and enhance the solution so we can ultimately help increase the number of people actively consider a career in the Royal Navy.”
The first iteration of the guide was piloted on the Royal Navy website in early March. Caroline Scott, Head of e-CRM, Royal Navy, adds: “By launching the pilot live on our website, we’ll be able to gather real-time data from our website visitors. These insights will be invaluable in helping us not just to optimise the AI service over time but also to inform our recruitment, content and media strategies moving forward.” Whilst the Royal Navy already have a dedicated support team, the hope is that this innovation will free up their time to deal with complex queries which require detailed conversations with potential candidates.