In the rush of everyday dealings, it’s easy to forget that everyone in your business ecosystem is a customer: from investors to partners, buyers and their networks to anyone in the value chain from manufacturers to end consumers, including your employees. So, when we talk about the CX trend, we are talking about employee experience in disguise.
While we’ve previously discussed the countless ways to use bots for closing customer experience gap, when looking at employees, chatbot use case pool explodes with even greater possibilities. Indeed, chatbots can have quite an influence on how your employees experience their day to day duties.
But is employee experience really that crucial?
Studies say it is!
Time and time again, research confirms that when it comes to customer experience and employee engagement, their value correlates quite closely.
In J. Morgan’s HBR report reviewing 250 companies, the data concludes that the companies that actively invested in employee experience shaped by these environments outperform the ones that didn’t 4.2x in average profit and 4.0x in profit per employee. Their average revenue was also twice as large.
Similarly to these observations, the 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report by Deloitte, found that:
- 43% of respondents believed that employee well-being reinforces their company’s mission and vision
- 60% said it improves employee retention
- 61% reported that it improves employee productivity and bottom-line business results.
Furthermore, according to IBM’s Employee Experience Index, of employees who ranked in the lowest 25% of EX, a staggering 44% expressed intentions to leave their current workplace. And indeed, Glassdoor reported that disengaged employees cost the US between $450 billion to $550 billion annually.
But before we rush into improving employee experience, we better clearly define what it is.
The employee experience is, in its essence, the total of interactions a single employee has with their employer in combination with the employee’s perception of the company (e.g. its mission, structure, culture) and their role within it.
However, the experience was not always this scrutinized when it came to employees.
At the beginning of the new millennium, employers were mostly concerned with a fairly straightforward concept of employee satisfaction. Later, in the 2010s, the focus shifted from satisfaction to employee engagement. It’s only today the most progressive employers have started looking at the bigger picture of employee experience composed of small pieces such as satisfaction, engagement, etc.
Research by the aforementioned Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage, showed us that there are three key employee experience environmental factors an investment in which leads to happier employees as well as larger talent pipelines and increased profitability and productivity:
- The physical environment (Everything the employees can see, hear, smell, touch, or taste.)
- Technology in the workplace (The tools employees need and have available to do their job well.)
- Positive workplace culture (the way employees “feel” at work in relation to what’s expected of them on a daily basis. The atmosphere given off by the company structure, hierarchy, and leadership.)
It’s no secret your customers will feel the consequences of unhappy, frustrated, disgruntled employees. So, for a business to truly embrace the experience economy they must begin researching and investing into improving overall customer as well as employee experience.
For the most part, chatbots are thought of as customer-facing tools which can help you improve end-user experience be it as customer service assistants or lead generation bots. However, the same technology can play a key role in transforming the employee experience by taking over basic tasks.
Chatbots can enable self-service by answering questions; help employees complete tasks faster and independently, send personalized notifications and provide specific data quickly.
In fact, they can come in handy in a multitude of cases.
It’s no secret recruitment process is one of the worst-rated experiences ever. At one point or another, we’ve all been there. The communication is so bad, recruitment studies show that 60% say to have had a poor experience and 81% of candidates doubts their application was even reviewed!
It’s needless to say the recruitment process is the first experience of your company for every single employee! And it’s precisely here, in this pit of negativity, the employee experience starts.
A greater part of the recruitment process is composed (or is supposed to be composed) of frequent recruiter-applicant communication using a wide range of channels including emails, phone calls, texts, and even social media. AI or choice-based recruitment chatbots can mimic human conversational behavior to interact with applicants giving them answers to common queries as well as providing immediate feedback on their application status.
While, from the candidates perspective, chatbots can be there to provide answers and support, from recruiters’ perspective, they can screen the hundreds of applications in real-time saving your human employees hours of work.
There are very few limits when it comes to bot use cases. You can use your recruitment bot to categorize and screen applicants, answer FAQs, schedule interviews or even give tests.
If you are interested, we’ve written a lengthy article on how to build recruitment chatbots, make sure to check it out!
Hiring is a tough process. But, once you are done, there is another piece of the recruitment puzzle that often causes friction – onboarding.
Did you know that only 12% of employees in the US strongly agree that their organization has a good onboarding process for new employees?
Successfully onboarding new hires is crucial as this process essentially sets them up for success or failure. An employee who doesn’t feel sufficiently informed or trained is likely to suffer from stress and anxiety. Not to mention the looming underperformance issues!
On the other hand, business gets busy. Plus, not every company has an HR department to help out. Often the legal and practical side of onboarding rests with direct managers. Having to train a new employee on top of all your normal responsibilities can put a significant strain on your workload.
The most frustrating thing? Onboarding is crucial but also largely repetitive.
Repetitiveness is a drag for humans but just the perfect fit for bots.
A simple onboarding bot can:
1. Walk hires through onboarding paperwork like tax forms or non-disclosure agreements answering their questions about the forms and documents if there’s any ambiguity.
2. Guide hires through company policies including anything from human resource policies on vacation to standard operating procedures. The new employees can ask questions and save themselves the time of asking the manager or coworker.
3. Give hires an introduction to the company’s and team’s history bringing someone up to speed with everything the company and the specific team has been up to in the past and plans for the future in greater detail. Since there’s not always time to dig deeper beyond the new hire’s duties, having a bot that can answer questions about past and future projects, missions, values and team’s role in the company can play a significant role helping them feel connected and involved from the start.
4. Check-in on the progress of onboarding and adaptation. Sometimes, new employees might feel insecure or embarrassed admitting they are still not up to speed with something. Having an impartial bot to answer their questions or suggest them the right person to talk to about a particular issue can be priceless in empowering new hires and make them feel comfortable and hence more motivated.
This brings us to HR chatbots because onboarding is really just the start of a long journey.
Let’s face it, policies, complex processes, and rigid frameworks are a boring, unpleasant but absolutely crucial part of the HR function. And so, human resource teams (or single agents) spend a huge amount of their time answering the same – most basic – questions.
To be quite honest, responding to most of the queries is so straightforward, you don’t even need artificial intelligence or machine learning to deal with it. Choice-based or simple NLP (Natural Language Processing) bots will do just fine. HR teams can use bots to communicate all of the above information automatically, 24/7 making HR more accessible. Trivial questions about scheduling, employee benefit or paid leave can be directed to chatbots for quick but still personalized responses.
Employees will be happy to get faster responses. On the other hand, HR team members will be freed from the weight of banal queries and devote their time to more complex and fulfilling tasks. Having a bot also ensures greater consistency and accuracy of information as well as provides a sense of familiarity that breaks through the inhibitions about more sensitive or personal questions.
BONUS: Bots are also quite excellent at serving as virtual time clocks. They can automatically prompt employees to clock in and clock out, sending the time-stamp info to a Google Sheet or any other system you might be using!
In the age of constant development and disruption, existing skills are as crucial as the ability to acquire new skills. Hiring competent people is a priority but so is employee development once on the job.
Integrating learning or data chatbots into the development process can improve learning outcomes.
For instance, rather than leaving employees to navigate the ever confusing depths of intranet, menus or documents to locate relevant data, chatbots can streamline the access to information by pulling out what’s relevant in a moment when it’s needed.
Ability to locate the relevant information empowers employees and fosters independence. For example, the CEO of Florida State University Credit Union (FSUCU), B. Blake claims chatbots are the best way to equip employees with the answers they need in real-time. Therefore, FSUCU has been entering its training manual into the chatbot, which employees access via Microsoft Teams. By structuring all the data in a question-answer format, employees can move through the training data materials quicker, following the order demanded by their daily tasks and responsibilities.
On the other hand, interactive content is known to drive engagement. With a learning chatbot, employees can study training materials in a more engaging way as well as test their knowledge using conversational assessments that provide real-time feedback.
A great example of a development bot is Hazel, an AI Coach for Managers. Hazel shares managerial advice through dialog, respecting the turn-taking principle and goes into as much detail as the user needs.
IT Helpdesk Chatbots
Very much like HR, IT department that falls victim of a never-ending tsunami of mind-numbingly routine questions. Having a chatbot enables employees to get answers to basic FAQs promptly and even guide them through a basic troubleshoot without needing the IT team to intervene.
Hence, your developers can spend less time telling people to turn their computer off and on. In return, they’ll have more time left for coding solutions that can push your company forward.
As in the case of HR, quick IT solutions make the employees feel more competent and independent. Furthermore, your IT team is likely to be less frustrated and more fulfilled focusing on tasks that make the full use of their skills.
Bots are pretty much the best way to get rid off forms and questionnaires. Not only in terms of customer support and satisfaction but also internally!
Whether you need to gather employee feedback; check the level of cross-departmental awareness; or test core company knowledge, chatbots are here to make things easier.
Well, as with any use case, a chatbot can process information in real-time. This means a human employee doesn’t have to check every response individually to compile an overall report. Plus, when it comes to assessment, employees can get immediate feedback!
Last but not least is the category of chatbots that can help you build positive company culture. Making a company (especially a large one) to feel as a whole, can be challenging.
So, besides all the serious tasks, chatbots can be used to have a little bit of fun. You would be surprised how a little chat can bring your employees and departments together.
For instance, you can build a Secret Santa chatbot that pairs up employees in an engaging manner; create a “roulette” bot that pops out a different name to lead the present at a team meeting or make a “how well do you know your team” quiz to bring people together.
Internal chatbots, although dealing with a multitude of fractioned tasks, should function as a whole. Merely automating repetitive tasks does not derive the most from the transformative potential of a conversational approach.
So, when deciding which bots to implement it’s important to rethink your process and how conversational bots can allow for smooth and efficient engagement across the entire employee lifecycle. In other words, before launching a bot, always be aware of what issue you are trying to solve. And don’t forget to consider how this solution connects to the rest of the company processes.
Another important thing to consider is that implementing internal bots doesn’t necessarily mean increased costs for your business. The beauty of chatbot solutions available these days that you can create a wide variety of bots using the same service which maximizes your return on investment. Furthermore, with no-code chatbot builders, managers and executives alike are capable of creating bots on-the-go without little support from IT.
The more applications you find a for a bot the better.
Chatbots are more and more accepted and appreciated by the end-user, so why not apply their benefits to the workplace?
Having an internal chatbot enables employers of all shapes and sizes to:
- Arm employees a higher degree of independence through streamlined self-service
- Train and keep employees informed faster and more accurately
- Lower costs through increased automation
- Create consistent experiences for all employees
- Reduce employee frustration with routine tasks
- Increase satisfaction by allowing employees to spend their time with more meaningful tasks.
Statista survey showed that customer support had a number of positive effects. Imposing 79% felt that working on more complex issues improved their skills and 72% felt they were having a more meaningful impact on the company.
The same effect can be replicated internally.
So, if you are already using chatbots to attract new or support existing customers, supporting your staff and improving the overall employee experience is the next step. On the other hand, if you are new to bots, beware that chatbots have a wide variety of applications in the business world, making the investment worth your while.