Designing Conversational Interfaces to Improve Employee Experience

The war for talent is a major battle; the job market is hotter than it’s been since 2007(1) and employee loyalty is hard to capture. In fact, in a recent survey by West Monroe, 59% of the workers stated that they would leave their current company for a more appealing offer.(2) Given how expensive it is for companies to identify and onboard new talent (3), companies are searching for effective ways to improve employee experience and engagement.

To increase employee engagement, innovative companies are creating employee-facing chatbots. These chatbots are being used to reduce the burden of repetitive activities like scheduling meetings, where the chatbot can be directed to find a time for specified participants to meet. They can also be used by new employees to help sort through an overwhelming amount of information, by being able to ask things like “where can I find my benefit information?” or “how do I record my time?” By removing these types of activities, employers are able to use enterprise resource planning solutions to improve overall employee satisfaction, and help employees focus on what matters most.

That’s the promise of cloud-based enterprise conversational interfaces—they can eliminate confusion and assist in task automation using machine learning and natural language processing. But in practice, if a chatbot is not designed correctly, the benefit of the technology will be limited. As we see this technology evolve, the actual impact of the interfaces will be entirely dependent on the quality of the experience.  Those that prioritize human-centered design in the development of their chat-bots will benefit ten-fold.

Here are the three critical steps for creating an effective employee-facing chatbot:

  1. Design with users to ensure it is accessible | Work with users to identify an unacceptable experience that needs to be changed. Creating a chatbot that solves for relevant user pain points will make employees more likely to engage with the new solution. While initiating engagement is half the battle, the other half is understanding how and when an employee’s communication style shifts as their context shifts. Conversational interfaces are trained to identify a user’s intent. Employees will have different intents and different ways of communicating those intents.  Above all, in order for a conversational interface to truly be effective, it needs to be designed so that it is accessible to all users.
  2. Build the best training data | Predictive chatbots are more sophisticated and are able to assist because they leverage data, previous interactions, and predictive analytics to personalize responses. The data that companies need to train their employee-facing AI-enabled conversational interface probably doesn’t exist yet, and if it does the data is probably biased towards a specific type of user. Companies need to consider the quality of their training data and dedicate resources to evaluate bias in training data, and also dedicate resources to testing the evolution of the conversational interface.  This is essential for a company to benefit fully from implementing a conversational interface.
  3. Prioritize analytics | Once you have employees interacting with a conversational interface the opportunity for data-driven decision-making sky rockets. Companies that create chatbots that prioritize analytics will be able to assess employee engagement, competence, interests, and attitudes rapidly, and at scale. By designing the chatbot so that the structure of the questions elicit discrete choices (e.g. yes/no, Likert scale, mutually exclusive categories, etc) companies will be able to collect enterprise information quickly and analyze it easily.

Well-designed conversational interfaces are an efficient way to invest in—and modernize—the employee experience and improve employee engagement. Companies that invest in the design of their chatbots to be accessible, evaluate and correct for bias, and prioritize analytics will see the benefits of increased employee engagement and increased employee loyalty (they will also be able to measure it!).

 

 

 

References

  1. https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/videos/recruiting-top-talent-in-a-competitive-job-market/
  2. https://www.westmonroepartners.com/Insights/Newsletters/Keeping-Employees-Loyal-in-a-Tight-Labor-Market
  3. According to Bersin by Deloitte, the average U.S. employer spends about $4000 and 24 days to hire a new employee – https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/calculate-cost-per-hire/?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=FastCo
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