Chatbots as HR Solutions
The HR industry is ripe for disruption. As always.
In a way, HR is always the first part of a business to adopt new technologies, techniques, or ideas. It is such a central (literally the central) part of an organisation, it is no surprise disruption emerges from it.
As chatbot specialists, I will focus this article on the obvious: chatbots in HR. What role can they play, now that chatbots are the new HR disruption? Can we think of chatbots as HR solutions?
Note: I try to talk to as many HR professionals as possible about the AI/chatbot revolution in their line of work. If you'd like to grab a 10min Skype call with me, please get in touch -- I'd love to hear your thoughts.
What matters to HR
If we are going to talk about a specific department within a company and the solutions that could help improve it, we need to first focus on what matters to them.
What makes an HR rep tick? What matters to an HR supervisor? Which KPIs does an HR director scrutinise?
There is a lot of great literature around this topic. However, since chatbots are new, we need a slightly different point of view. So, this is what I found through the interviews I carried. We will then see if an HR solution in the form of a chatbot can help with each of these.
To all: employee happiness
To the HR department in general, what matters is employee happiness. This should be obvious. A happy employee performs better, puts her best foot forward, takes initiative, etc.
Employee happiness and positivity is the HR department's north star metric. Even if, within the HR department, there are different sections (recruitment, for instance) that may not make you think 'employee happiness', trust me -- that is their ultimate goal.
To HR reps: solve HR issues
Stay with me on this one.
Surely, all the issues presented to HR reps must be HR issues, right? Wrong. We have found most enquiries an average HR rep gets every day demands very little of their amazing HR skills.
We've talked about this at length here.
From our conversations with them, what HR people like to do the most is solving real HR issues. Getting involved with the employees, strategising recruitment, and forecasting expansion plans; that is what floats their boat.
The thing is they get bogged down by repeated, 'easy', data-based questions. This part of their job ends up taking 30-50% of their time away from doing the stuff they love.
To HR managers: increase productivity
The HR manager is the person who oversees the productivity of the HR reps. She manages the team and makes sure they get everything they need to do their work.
To the HR manager, what matters is productivity. She needs to be sure her team is 'on it'. Closing more tickets, servicing more employees, and doing it all faster.
It is also part of her job to listen to the HR reps. They express the issues they run into that slow that productivity right down. Finding alternatives such as a chatbot for HR is in her hands.
To the HR directors: KPIs and SLAs
At the HR director level, what matters is the big picture. How is our HR department doing? Show me numbers, graphs, and statistics.
Pretty, pretty Excel HR KPI/SLA spreadsheet
To them, data is key. The data allows them to build their key performance indicators (KPIs) and service level agreements (SLAs).
What happens once they have these two numbers? The race to meet them! If employee enquiry response rate (in days) is a KPI they track, you can be sure they have an SLA in place and will do everything they can to meet it.
Can chatbots be HR solutions?
Now that we've seen all the things people in HR care about at their different levels, it is time to focus back to our initial topic. Can chatbots help HR? Are they a suitable solution for the HR department?
Of course, we believe they are. This is why.
During our interviews, we talked with employees of some of the largest companies in the world. When asked how they felt about their HR department's delays in answering their requests, one of the top three answers we got was 'unloved'.
Chatbots automate most of the enquiries employees have. This, by itself, brings that delay down to zero on most occasions. Furthermore, every minute an HR rep saves not having to answer these questions manually can be used to focus on an employee's more complex and pressing issue.
Chatbots increase employee happiness.
What if we built a magical tool that would allow HR reps to save time answering the boring repetitive questions they get? What would happen then?
The answer is their job.
HR reps could finally get the time to do what they love to do. Instead of copy pasting paragraphs from the employee handbook to answer employee queries, they could focus on actually helping them.
Should I write a paragraph about this? Combine the two sections above!
Increased in low-hanging fruit automation + decreased workload + improved happiness = ?
As simple as ABC.
Finally, chatbots are machines. Machines are good with data. Numbers are what they're made of.
Why would chatbots be great HR solutions for the director's side of the department? Because they allow you to track everything. Beyond simply reaching these SLAs you're trying too hard to meet every month, you can also now know exactly why you finally met them.
Keep track of all the conversations. Get a pulse on your employees' happiness level (via sentiment analysis). Figure out the way your employees are asking about specific rules. Use the data to train your reps, improve your onboarding, and edit your handbooks.
There we have it. Chatbots are serious contestants in the race for the best HR solutions. Over 70% of the chatbot building service enquiries we receive are about HR solutions.
I am not surprised.