A great customer experience starts with an outstanding employee experience. In fact, companies with highly engaged employees actually outperform their competitors by 147%.

For new hires at your company, starting their new job can be many things: invigorating, exciting, and a little overwhelming, especially during onboarding. Policies, procedures, facts, and figures can add up quickly! No matter what information people are given during orientation, they’re bound to have follow-up questions specific to their own situation. When looking for answers, people only sometimes find what they need, buried deep in a fifty-page employee handbook that hasn’t been updated since last year.

How frustrating, right?

Businesses spend hours defining and refining customer journeys, but how much time is spent on the employee journey? One increasingly popular solution for improving this process and many other elements of employee experience is the use of virtual assistants. A recent Gartner study found that “by 2022, 70% of white-collar workers will interact with [virtual assistants] on a daily basis.

What is conversational AI?

Conversational AI tools include virtual assistants, or chatbots, which are messaging tools that use machine learning to respond to user input.

What is employee experience (EX)?

Employee experience (EX) is the human experience of working at a company. This includes corporate culture, the physical workspace, interactions with fellow employees, the day-in-day-out emotional experience of working, and more.

How can technology be leveraged to impact the employee experience, which affects employee engagement? For businesses, awareness of this is key because happy employees perform better for customers, so improving employee experience is a shortcut to improving the bottom line.

What gets in the way of positive employee experience?

Employees can struggle with a variety of obstacles at work. Many of these are due to challenges in finding the right information at the right time. When trying to get an answer to a question, users must engage with multiple tools and people, then must compile and compare information from the different sources. In addition, since teams are busy working, documentation and similar content can be outdated, obsolete, or siloed away from other relevant data. All of these factors can complicate an employee’s search for the information they need.

How conversational AI improves employee experience

Messaging changes the standard for how employees interact with the content, tools, and people within their organization. Messaging changes how we interact, mainly because this channel is:

• Massively adopted. Messaging has become the norm in our personal lives and using it in the workplace is a natural next step.

• Easy to access. Messaging and bots are available 24/7 and create a one-stop-shop for employees to get their questions answered.

• Ready for automation. The channel is text based and offers major automation opportunities, serving as a foundation for AI-driven processes throughout the organization.

• Asynchronous. It allows users to do other tasks, either on the client side or on the employee side. Whether in HR, sales, or another department, employees can use chatbots to save time and prioritize tasks that are valuable to the company, instead of pointing colleagues to available online assets.

• Insight into employee needs and opinions. Data from chatbot conversations such as search keywords, intent analysis, and poll results can help HR teams prevent employee attrition and improve company morale.

Questions conversational AI can answer

Internal virtual assistants can answer questions like:

• How much PTO do I have left this year?

• What holidays do we have off this year?

• Where is our company organizational chart?

• Who do I talk to about applying for an internal transfer?

• When is my expense report due?

Use cases for conversational AI

Internal virtual assistants can answer questions like:

Everyday interactions

• Reminders and check-ins

• Polls

• Phone call dial in

Onboarding for new employees

• Answers related to the employee handbook

• Answers on employee information: PTO left, company holidays

• Answers on company’s training, organization, org chart

• Answers on forms and benefits

Common requests and submissions

• IT tickets

• PTO requests

• Expense reports

• Timesheets

Conversational AI best practices

How can companies successfully integrate virtual messaging into their organization? There are a few key elements to keep in mind:

• Have a plan. Consider all messaging tools such as live chat, enhanced chat, and basic and advanced virtual assistants. Establish a messaging roadmap to facilitate adoption by employees. Include live chat features as an entry point feature.

• Identify quick wins and design with several use cases in mind. Build bots to host several use cases and build the bot with room to grow.

• Integrate legacy systems carefully. Proper integration is what drives the “brain”—and success—of your bot.

• Establish a training process to continuously improve the bot over time. Design a training cycle to improve the bot’s efficiency over time.

Implementing messaging also helps position companies that want to use voice assistant channels. The data that is gathered now can be leveraged in the future.

Gartner predicts that “by 2021…25 percent of digital workers will use a virtual employee assistant (VEA) on a daily basis. This will be up from less than 2 percent in 2019.” This immense growth of chatbots will benefit employees, companies, and business practices across diverse industries.

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Paul Lee

Lionel Bodin is the Director of Digital Transformation at Logic20/20. He manages highly complex, multi-faceted digital programs related to CRM systems, cloud and on-prem implementations, Big Data, and more.