Chatbots: An Employee Experience Channel
Chatbots are taking the business world by storm; it’s fair to say that we’ll be seeing more of them in the coming years. Organizations today are already using chatbots in applications ranging from customer service to lead generation. Those that haven’t already implemented the technology are reimagining their processes so that chatbots can take over the effort-intensive and repetitive tasks that human agents currently perform.
What are chatbots?
Simply put, a chatbot is a solution that provides users with a natural conversational experience via a chat-based interface. It’s usually applied in the automation of various business processes.
Chatbots vary in complexity. The simplest systems can only respond to specific inputs with predefined replies, as determined by rules-based logic. On the other end of the spectrum, advanced systems are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and audio and video processing capabilities to learn actively from previous interactions and replicate life-like conversations.
How chatbots differ from conventional customer servicing systems
Some call centers use IVRs to resolve queries without the need for a human agent. Such interactions can often be frustrating for users, as they’re forced to listen to lengthy recordings, when what they’re looking for is quicker resolution. When human agents are involved, the main concerns are their lack of efficiency and knowledge. They don’t always have the requisite data or knowhow to answer the consumers’ queries. The end-result is an unpleasant experience for customers.
Figure 1: Chatbots and how they differ from conventional systems
Chatbots bring together the best of both worlds while avoiding their pitfalls. They engage consumers in personalized and relevant conversations rather than presenting a list of predefined options. With connections to various systems at the backend, chatbots are privy to information that can help contextualize interactions and provide more value. They offer consumers customized interactions across various communication channels and also maintain conversation history.
Chatbots have gained significant traction in the field of customer service; this comes down to the fact that they’re exceptionally effective at handling simple queries at large scale – infinitely more so than human agents. Realizing the opportunity to save time, effort and money, organizations now want to implement chatbots for such mundane tasks. Customer calls would be screened, and only validated calls forwarded to the agent.
Mindtree and enterprise chatbots
Today, the line between internal and external processes is blurred. Where they used to earlier function as discrete entities, marketing, sales, production and customer support are now working in tandem to create new connected opportunities. For instance, let’s take the use of chatbots by an organization’s marketing department, where different channels are utilized for sales and lead generation. In order to achieve a unified framework, chatbots appear across web, social and enterprise properties to form a common thread of communication. This, in turn, will aid the efforts of other departments.
Chatbots aren’t solely for end-consumer use cases; they’re applicable to other facets of enterprises too. The introduction of millennials into the global workforce and its increasing diversity are forcing organizations to rethink their employee engagement initiatives. This is compelling organizations to:
- Improve employee engagement by connecting with a workforce with diverse demographics. Employees no longer view their work life and personal life as disjointed experiences. They expect their work experiences to be equivalent to and as simplified as their personal digital experiences.
- Simplify the learning curve to navigate the organizational application landscape. In doing so, organizations can not only enhance the usage of their systems, but also improve overall employee satisfaction.
- Provide 24x7 support. Many modern businesses comprise geographically distributed teams – employee needs and demands can arise at any time.
- Elevate the employee experience by reducing wait times.
To address the evolving dynamics highlighted above, Mindtree has developed a next-generation conversational offering. Our solution relies on the 5-part Mindtree Customer Experience Framework (MCEF), which helps:
- Identify the program objectives with corresponding KPIs
- Identify high-level functional areas and sub-areas, and use design thinking to craft the employee journey and develop a to-be mindmap
- Prioritize the most effective use cases to support the ROI for the undertaking
- Apply research to understand the current business flows and modes of operation
- Define the bot user experience (personality, style, conversation flows, tone and UX).
This is coupled with a scalable AI architecture, thereby enabling a:
- Platform-led vision
- Cognitively evolved system capable of handling multiple languages
- Reusable asset library including customized MS BOT framework, LUIS and QnA Maker to enable enterprise-wide scaling
- Analytics-driven experience, which aids with personalization
Figure 2: Some of the scenarios in which chatbots are used in enterprises
Let’s take the example of an organization for which we reimagined the HR-employee experience. The process we followed is described below:
Our first step in the implementation was to prioritize the different use cases. This was done based on factors such as the current cost of servicing and level of human intervention required. Each of these factors were then classified according to severity as high, medium or low, so as to help us rank each use case. Based on this exercise and taking into consideration how quickly each use case could be achieved, we came up with a list of potential use cases, which included FAQs in different sub-areas and updated employee information in the backend.
After the prioritization exercise, we conducted a user research, which helped us empathize with the users and study how employees are being served with the existing process. Service desk call recordings, email transcripts and existing portals were studied as part of the research. This helped us come up with utterances for each use case. For instance, FAQs was an area that employees were concerned about. In order to access this information, employees had to navigate through a number of webpages. With the help of chatbots, a single-window experience was provided to the employees.
The next step in the journey was to give a style to the chatbot. We wanted the chatbot’s conversation style to be chatty, so that it had the feel of a real-life HR assistant. This helped us define a personality and voice, and became the guideline for structuring conversations.
Once we had a style in place for the chatbot, we started designing various conversation flows. Flows were designed in so that employees were greeted on signing in, and they could access workplace information quickly and accurately. For each use case, we came up with a happy path, a repair path, a refine path and hand-offs, which provided a good conversational experience to the employees.
We’ve seen a lot of organizations implement chatbots to help consumers buy their products or interact with various brands. However, when it comes to internal processes, we find that most of them use portals or other conventional interfaces to interact with their employees. With the help of the enterprise chatbot, we can shift from conventional modes of engagement to a smart and conversational one, which helps automate an enterprise’s many service desk tasks.