Many enterprises are turning to conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to improve productivity within their organizations. But can a chatbot be so helpful that it impacts staff behavior and increases their productivity at the same time?
Not to keep you in suspense, but the answer is yes, and it’s something that often surprises our clients. Many enterprises start their AI journey looking to solve specific pain points, for which chatbots for customer service may be a prime solution. But organizations may quickly find that employees are adapting how company chatbots are used for their own productivity benefits.
Most people can’t help but look for shortcuts. It doesn’t mean they’re lazy. In fact, it’s often the opposite. They value their time. And at work, that means they value yours too.
As employees learn the benefits of having a conversational AI tool in their reach, here are two ways I’m seeing chatbots used to boost internal productivity.
Improve Call Center Capacity
Take, for instance, the virtual assistant that looks after the online and mobile customers of a large bank -- it knows everything, from documents required to open an account to obscure questions that might only ever get asked once a month but still need immediate answers. The assistant is always up to date. If there is a new regulation or a form to fill in to meet with compliance obligations, you can be certain it’s covered. Within just a few weeks of having this assistant in place, call center staff may gravitate toward using it, instead of their own systems, to find answers.
Relying on the assistant is faster than wading through menus on the intranet. Staff can simply ask the chatbot the question, and they don’t even have to use the bank’s terminology to be understood. They’ll receive the right information along with any legal advice or warnings that need to go with the answer.
Using the digital employee might be considered the lazy option to some, but it can increase your team’s capacity for more important tasks. Staff members may feel less pressured and have more time to deal with complex customer issues, while supervisors can concentrate on other areas to further increase performance rates.
Reduce Internal Inefficiencies
But there are also times when the “lazy” option doesn’t help productivity. Take for instance human resources (HR) departments. As multinationals continually look to drive down costs, employees -- in effect the “customers” of HR teams -- are often expected to self-serve, resolving queries through search. Yet, finding even the simplest items of information, like departmental contact details, when you’re working in disparate, complex global operations can be difficult.
This is why employees may not bother searching, preferring to phone the HR help desk instead. As a result, HR teams in multinationals respond to numerous queries throughout the year. And yet, all the information is accessible online.
Using conversational AI can help to improve the employee experience by delivering a rapid and accurate HR service that saves valuable time for your employee. And for the HR department, digital employees have the ability to help reduce HR costs by allowing HR staff to only have to address more complex queries, helping improve key performance indicators through reduced wait times and higher employee satisfaction.
Your chatbot will understand the many different ways your staff asks the same question as well as recognize subtle differences in topics such as company leave and leaving the company -- potentially two very different conversations. It accesses back-end systems, integrated with third-party data and a host of other sources, to deliver the right answer, consistently and compliantly.
Empowering Your Employees With AI
Especially in the early days of chatbots and customer service, there is often hesitance by employees who view digital assistants as competition for their job. Newspaper headlines might shout that AI will destroy jobs, but I believe the reality is different. It may change the nature of a role, but for the most part, the role will continue to exist.
The landscape is changing as chief information officers start to take control and move toward a centralized enterprise-wide strategy. And it’s often the early successes that are driving the discussion of conversational AI into the broad room.
In cases where employees adopt an organization’s chatbot for their own productivity gains, enterprises should encourage them to use it. With the right technology, it’s easy to involve business users in the improvement and maintenance of the application. After all, no one knows your business better than the people working on the front lines.
This collaborative approach to learning to leverage a chatbot’s uses can assure staff that there is no need to be afraid of technology advancements within the organization and encourage them to be stakeholders in their adoption.
Enterprises are already seeing the benefit in implementing conversational AI into their outward-facing customer service activities. Now, many of those same companies are looking to expand its use throughout the organization, integrating it with other productivity-driven technology. It’s not about reducing headcount; it’s about achieving greater profit by empowering employees to do more.
This post was written by Andy Peart, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Artificial Solutions, an international AI-focused business with the vision of Making Technology Think.
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