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Have you ever been stuck with an internal system? You knew what you needed to do, such as file an expense report, but you didn’t know which system to use, or if you did, you didn’t know how to use the system? Perhaps you were using the system but encountered an error?
These are all use cases that can be solved by a chatbot.
A chatbot can essentially abstract an internal system to the extent that the user doesn’t know which system they are using.
Human Resources (HR) is a department that is well suited to chatbot use cases. This is because most HR engagement with users happens infrequently, which means that users forget which systems they need to use for a given task, forget their login details or forget how to use the system in question. It may even not be worth the time and hassle for them to learn a system to accomplish the task at hand. All the problems that we highlighted above.
The most obvious use cases for HR chatbots are tasks like filing expense reports, requesting a holiday, updating compliance training or asking questions about some aspect of company policy.
In each case, the user does not have to remember an exact procedure and system, but instead is guided through the process by the chatbot. For example, instead of sending a link to a slide deck and a system to verify their compliance, the user can simply read the slides on the chatbot and verify their compliance there, in a step by step way.
In all the above cases the user has one point of entry, the chatbot. Whatever their question or task, they start with the chatbot.
Of course there may be cases where the chatbot may not know the answer to a given question. In this case, it is efficient for the question to be escalated to an HR support person. This person can answer the question, and can also ensure that, if appropriate, the chatbot is updated so that it can answer the given question itself in the future.
This function is called human in the loop (HITL) and it is best set up so that the support person can give responses in real-time, at the moment that the employee is involved in the task at hand.
While the above use cases are fairly obvious, there are ways in which chatbots can be used by HR that are not so obvious.
When HR interactions are carried out by humans, things are done in a certain way in order for their time to be leveraged. This means that there is little customization in terms of the way individual employees are dealt with. The software tools available also limit what can feasibly be done by HR without annoying employees.
Chatbots solve the two problems above. It is much easier to provide a customized engagement to an employee in ways that are less disruptive i.e. provide customization at scale.
The relevant use cases are surveys and coaching.
AI can be used to figure out which employees need to be asked given questions at certain times and when to follow up based on their responses or the responses of others. These can be pointed questions about their level of satisfaction with their job and their working relationships with others. A question could just be one question i.e. it does not have to be several questions.
The above can be integrated with coaching and training programs which in part can be delivered by the chatbot. The idea is to ensure that the employee never feels that their needs are not being looked after.
It makes sense that such mentoring type engagement also be integrated with any goal setting or task management software.
The possibilities as to how employees could be engaged with are endless.
The advances in this area will be in the chatbot learning in the aggregate to figure out when to engage with employees and what questions to ask. The goal will be to provide the highest level of employee satisfaction and to identify problems before they get bigger.
Chatbots can also be used within the HR department by HR employees to improve their own productivity. In this case, chatbots can be used like free form workflow tools whereby HR employees can launch a task that requires engagement from an employee but then only involve themselves in that task when necessary. For example, an employee may need to engage in a multistep process to update their pension policy or need to provide updated contact information.
At the very least the chatbot can provide them with a procedure and guidance to accomplish this task even if it cannot do the task for them.
There are many ways that chatbots can improve the lives and productivity of employees and help HR engage with employees to boost satisfaction and identify problems before they turn into something serious.
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