by Alexandra Goger, SharePoint and Office 365 Evangelist at Iflexion
From consumer-centered to manufacturing industries, chatbots are taking over. With the exponentially growing amounts of data and the general increase in workflow speed, companies need to find new ways of assisting employees in navigating digital workplaces, resolving IT problems, and coping with mental health issues.
Let’s figure out how AI software development can help employees in their daily workplace experiences through intelligent automated assistants.
Streamlining Information Access.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for employees to spend an inordinate amount of time navigating complicated intranet trees when trying to access the information they need. The ineffective structure of conventional workplace applications becomes especially apparent when companies merge, making the system architecture even more confusing.
A chatbot can act as a simple one-page interface that can pull any information stored on the intranet in a convenient question-answer format. With a chatbot, employees don’t need to spend time thinking about where to start searching or whom to ask. This can significantly boost employee productivity and encourage independence.
For example, Kore.ai has developed Kora, an enterprise virtual assistant, which can retrieve information from a company’s knowledge base and streamline information access for its employees. Notably, companies don’t need special assistance in setup, as Kore.ai’s platforms are no- or low-code.
Resolving Helpdesk Requests.
The never-ending stream of ever-similar requests often overloads IT departments, causing long waiting times and frustration for employees. IT chatbots can successfully manage the most common helpdesk requests related to password change and account management, freeing up IT workers’ time for more cognitively demanding tasks.
Most importantly, instant resolution of the simplest IT issues like application updates safeguards employees from being unable to continue working. Most of the time, a short step-by-step instruction is all that’s needed to resolve a problem, but employees often can’t receive it because of a heavy workload in the IT department. Also, 24/7 chatbot assistance proves to be especially relevant for remote teams and people working flexible hours.
Leading HR specialists continue to stress the importance of a solid onboarding process. Quite often, the onboarding defines the relationship between the employee and the company.
While human interaction is undoubtedly important, onboarding is largely a repetitive process that human workers don’t find particularly engaging. With an onboarding chatbot, new hires can do all the required paperwork, get to know corporate policies, and familiarize themselves with their team’s goals and missions on their own.
For example, ChiefOnboarding, an onboarding open-source chatbot developed by Slack, optimizes this process by introducing new hires to the company in a playful manner, while ensuring that all the relevant information is delivered.
Collecting Employee Feedback.
Getting honest feedback from employees is the most important factor in formulating effective engagement strategies. While it has proven to be somewhat effective when done through surveys and questionnaires, specialized chatbots can provide much more reliable reports.
Employees feel far more comfortable opening up to a bot than to a boss or any other person tasked with feedback gathering. While you can argue that feedback can also be collected anonymously, the traditional form and structure of written questionnaires make them far less engaging than desired.
With conversational chatbots, questions are not only personalized but also open-ended. Advanced NLP-powered systems allow converting unstructured data into insights, enabling companies to better understand how exactly their employees feel and what can be done to improve their experiences.
For example, Weeve developed Kim, a chatbot that has empathetic conversations with employees and gathers data regarding their engagement. Weeve claims that their chatbot increases response rates up to 2.5 times and enables companies to resolve common employee issues up to 18 times faster.
Providing Mental Health Support.
Unsurprisingly, 2020 was one of the toughest years in terms of employees’ mental health. According to a Workplace Intelligence study conducted by Oracle, 70% of employees mark this year as the most stressful in their working experience. Given the sudden bump in anxiety levels across the workforce, managers need to come up with proactive solutions.
Interestingly enough, according to the Oracle study, 68% of respondents claim that they would feel more comfortable talking to a bot than to their manager about stress. Employees simply don’t want to be perceived as problematic and mentally unstable as they think it can negatively impact their careers. Moreover, rolling out a large-scale mental support program with licensed clinicians would be not economically feasible for many companies.
This is where chatbots come into play. When talking to a chatbot, workers can rest assured that their conversations are private and nobody will judge them. Chatbots are available 24/7 and employees can receive immediate responses. The most notable example of such chatbots is Ginger, an app-based AI-powered service that provides emotional support via therapy and coaching. Ginger claims that 70% of users report a significant reduction in depression symptoms within 12 weeks.
As chatbots become more integrated into our daily lives, employees will trust them more, fostering this technology’s wide-scale adoption. Gartner claims that by 2022, 70% of white-collar workers will use conversational AI daily. Given the comparatively low adoption costs and undisruptive implementation, companies of any size and industry need to start looking into how chatbots can benefit their workplaces.
Alexandra Goger is SharePoint and Office 365 Evangelist at Iflexion, a software development and IT consulting company headquartered in Denver. Sandra focuses on the SharePoint and Office 365 capabilities, challenges that companies face while adopting these platforms, as well as shares practical tips on how to improve SharePoint and Office 365 deployments and take maximum benefit out of them.