Like any automation, chatbots, aka “virtual assistants”, take on tasks to save businesses (and consumers) time and money. Whether chatbots engage via typed text or conversation, they present a solution that allows people to focus on using our higher-order human being skills–creativity, charisma, strategic thinking, opposable thumbs, etc.
According to Deloitte analysts, chatbots will significantly contribute to “the new, next-generation workforce.” Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing have made conversational interfaces useful within enterprises, as well as B2B and B2C applications.
The number of unique, active enterprise users of virtual assistants is projected to rise from 155 million in 2015 to 843 million by 2021. These same projections show total revenue from chatbots growing from $1.6 billion in 2015 to $15.8 billion in 2021.
Can these increasingly versatile tools advance your enterprise-level business and help hit KPIs? Yes, and here’s how…
1. Improving HR Responsiveness & Allocation
Human resources teams cover a wide range of tasks. Some of these tasks require exceptional tact and communication. Others are more repetitive and routine. These everyday doldrums take away from HR’s ability to focus on more sensitive, demanding employee issues.
Conversational AI systems can provide accurate and simple 24-hour answers to many general information requests. For some positions within applicable industries, chatbots save time by assisting with initial job applicant screening, and help HR connect with future candidates.
2. Lightening the Load for IT
No enterprise operation gets more tickets than IT. And with the proliferation of IoT and various smart machines, the stream quickly becomes a river. To save wear and tear on IT staff, chatbots can step in to answer an ever-increasing percentage of technical questions.
Whether it’s teaching dozens of workers how to change their settings on a new software system or explaining why the printer isn’t recognizing a file, chatbots can easily handle many routine functions. Built-in analytics allows chatbots to flag the areas where the most problems arise. As a result, your IT team can invest in more innovative problem solving for issues too elusive for even the smartest virtual assistant.
3. Promoting Internal Coordination
On average, professionals spend 1.8 hours a day — 9.3 hours per week — searching for and gathering information. For new employees in particular, not knowing the right person within their company to ask can be daunting. A chatbot can serve as an internal utility, answering frequently-asked questions. Chatbots provide responses according to natural language comprehension capabilities.
Calendars, meetings, and other operational matters can all be coordinated through a smart virtual assistant. You can access chatbots through SMS, as well as other messaging platforms, such as Slack, Workplace by Facebook, or Microsoft Sharepoint. Collaboration is suddenly simplified when facts and documents can be summoned on demand.
4. Relieving Global Workforce Logistics Woes
A workforce spread across the globe faces ongoing challenges around language, time zones, and currency conversion. Coordinating meeting times in different time zones is inconvenient, but relatively straight-forward. But with Watson Assistant, among other natural language translation chatbots, it is possible to facilitate real-time multilingual conversations.
Intelligent chatbots can also do some of your homework for you when it comes to staying up-to-date with respect to relevant trade regulations. Virtual assistants don’t have to answer to their families. So it’s no big deal for them to stay on the job 24/7/365 to accommodate your company’s connections not only with global team members, but also customers and partners.
5. Promoting More Thorough Lead Generation and Sales Support
By adding a chatbot to a landing page, visitors can be further pre-screened and qualified. When LeadPages added a chatbot to its site, for example, it increased conversions by 36%. Initially, the chatbot simply greeted site visitors. This small change increased the number of (human) chat interactions 4x.
This success motivated expansion–sending site visitors targeted messages, based on their activity on the site. These targeted messages had a click-through rate of 21%, compared with the 2% standard response rate for traditional marketing emails. Chatbots can intuitively integrate into customer lifecycle communication. This is especially crucial for B2B customers who seek more complex information around innovative solutions and services.
6. Offering On Demand Employee Training
One of the main differences between the workplace and school is the availability of resources. This isn’t a test. Using reference materials repeatedly during the work day is necessary, encouraged and allows you to get back to more important things. Some people can memorize systems and processes like the periodic table–but most can’t.
Chatbots provide bite-size training modules, directly related to employee tasks. Whether it’s centered around using a internal systems, entering PTO, making IT requests, etc., employees can access content and fix the information firmly in their mind through repetition — no shaming involved.
By embedding chatbots into continued education efforts, with automated and personalized content, employees can choose how deep they want to dive. Topics can also be set by an administrator, so the entire company receives updates on new products, processes, and services as they’re rolled out.
7. Tracking Employee Productivity
Through the use of friendly virtual assistants, employees can report on the status of their tasks and identify obstacles. Managers can have more vision into workflows and efficiency. Chatbots can collect information and provide an objective overview of production.
Through chatbot analytics, supervisors can determine where correction and/or additional/fewer resources are needed. But it’s important to note that more often than not, the emphasis of chatbot-based employee assessments focuses on coaching and support. They are closely tied in with AI-based “listening interfaces,” such as Achievers “Allie” that enhances companies’ employee recognition and reward incentive programs.
8. Increasing Employee Engagement
The financial benefits of engaged employees is real. In fact, Gallup tracks this metric each year. In 2018 they found:
Only 34% of workers state that feel engaged at work. If you consider recruiting efforts, business referrals, productivity, and retention, this directly impacts the bottom line. Companies with engagement levels in the top 25% have 21% higher profitability, as well as better worker retention, higher productivity, and fewer incidents.
Employee engagement software, like the Achievers platform, continues to optimize engagement opportunities by adding smart chatbots into the mix. These chatbots send out pulse surveys, encourage workers’ feedback, and nudge managers to act on what they learn from the listening interface.
9. Managing Information Overload
Data collection and flow within an enterprise operation can feel like a tidal wave. In parallel with providing solutions for actual tasks, smart virtual assistants can also crunch numbers and interpret information.
What can chatbots do with this data? A lot…
Compare new information and results with baseline (control) data
Alert you the right people to significant trends.
Provide certain data points to associated teams to interpret and plan next steps
Check its alignment with relevant data points and automate routine data management Create visual dashboards showing KPI metrics in real time
10. Enabling Human-Machine Interactions with AI & IoT
As the presence of the IoT grows, human beings have an increasing need (and desire) to interact with machines. In industrial environments, people need constant updates around supply trucks locations, field device efficacy, assembly line production, etc. Chatbots can relay all of these status updates and more through natural language capabilities.
AI drives the software that interprets sensor data received from machinery, as well as the natural-language interface that transmits this data to human beings. Order-fulfillment and supply-chain queries provide countless opportunities for chatbots to share information — with employees, as well as customers.
People Aren’t Bots, Bots Aren’t People
Most people want to feel more like people, not robots, at their jobs. But with the “will a machine take my job” question looming, it’s important to call out the positive, human-enhancing–not replacing–capabilities chatbots currently offer.
As chatbots evolve from simple rule-based algorithms to smart digital assistants powered by sophisticated AI, they often present a people-friendly solution. The efficiencies and smarter workflows translate into significant savings of time, money, and human energy. Chatbots promote necessary businesses hygienics so humans can contribute with their dynamic talents.