Chatbots and the Future of Employee Experience

What is the future of employee experience?  To get a view, ServiceNow conducted a survey at this year’s HR Tech Conference and Expo, the largest gathering of HR leaders in the world.  We asked more than 350 attendees about how their employees find information and answers to questions on HR policies and processes such as a maternity leave, and what they see as the demands of their employees.

The findings show the rapid rise of a new technology – chatbots – which conduct conversations via written or spoken words.  But more than that, the survey sheds light on the importance of building better consumerized employee experiences—the heart of HR service delivery.

Here’s a snapshot:

Employees struggle to access key HR policies when they need to, the demand for anytime, anywhere self-reliance rises:

  • 99% of respondents say it’s valuable for employees to feel they could find information on a maternity leave or other company policies in the evening or after hours.
  • However, only 12% say it’s easy for employees to quickly find that information.
  • More than 1 in 3 respondents report that it’s difficult or not possible for employees to find that information.
  • 47% say employees want to get information when they want it—for example via a company portal.
  • Only 4% of employees would wait as long as it takes to make an appointment to speak with an HR consultant.

My take is that it is far too difficult for employees to get the information they need, when they need it. Our consumer expectations are not met at work. Let’s face it, employee experiences are not limited to 9 am to 5 pm. Companies need to support their employees whereever they are and whenever they need assistance, globally. Policy and procedure information repositories and knowledge bases need easier and instant access directly by employees and self-reliance is the prevailing expectation of many employees to meet their needs.

HR teams see chatbots as a natural way for employees to get the information they need and adoption is rising

  • 92% agree that in the future chatbots will be important to direct employees to find the information they need.
  • 2/3 of respondents feel that their employees are very comfortable using chatbots, especially for retrieval of information. For example:

  • 13% of those responded said their HR teams are already working with chatbots, virtual assistants or machine learning apps to deliver employee services.
  • This year 21% of HR teams said they’ll be working with those types of intelligent machines to deliver employee services.
  • Within the next 3 years 75% said they’d be working with intelligent machines.

I think this survey underscores the potential and enthusiasm behind new technologies to finally deliver what employees want and need – a consumerized and compelling experience.  With self-reliance as the goal, HR teams will start to add new channels to their employee experience rapidly. Chatbots are one path in an omnichannel strategy that is seeing high interest and early adoption now.  The benefits of chatbots is that they can direct employees to the information they need at any time.  And more sophisticated chatbots can even provide personalized information such as how much time off an employee has remaining in a year or a policy that is specific to that role. Chatbot technology promises to play a defining role in consumerizing the employee service experience.

The big take-away for HR teams:

Before companies think of adopting chatbots and other new intelligent technologies, I recommend they take a step back.  These technologies are not stand–alones. Rather, they are part of the broader approach of delivering a consistent, consumerized employee service experience.

Your HR team should ask:

  • Do we have a strategy to provide employees with great employee service experiences across all departments in the enterprise?
  • Do we have a formal HR Service Delivery platform as the means to provide and ensure productivity, consistency and quality?

This is an exciting time for HR teams.  ServiceNow wants to partner with you on this path. To learn more about how to move ahead, please visit this site.

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Deepak R. Bharadwaj

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