3 Questions to Ask Before Building an HR Chatbot

With the release of the new Samsung smartphone, another artificial intelligence agent, “Bixby,” joins the market already occupied by IBM’s Watson, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. According to the search engine, There is a Bot for That; there are over 300 registered chatbots. A recent Wall Street Journal article estimates that there are 30,000 chatbots to date. HR is one industry that is currently using chatbots for many HR processes from giving information about benefits to helping recruitment efforts.

Chatbots can be effective in saving time while providing a better customer experience. However, before building the chatbot, HR shops should consider these three questions:
1) What are the benefits to the users from using the chatbot? Just the novelty of having a chatbot is no longer enough. Why should the employees want to use the chatbot? Is the chatbot an easier way to perform a task than the current way that users complete the task? You need to demonstrate that having a conversation will be much better than filling an online form or using a mobile app.

2) What is the business case for building the chatbot? Closely related to the first question, what are the benefits to the organization from using the chatbot? Map the value stream of your HR process. Where in the value stream can a chatbot (or chatbots) save the organization time, money, and resources? Make sure to factor in maintenance costs and future development costs because some chatbots have become victims of their success as users demand more sophistication.

3) Will people want to use a chatbot? For some tasks, people may prefer to interact with a person rather than a chatbot – even if the chatbot option is quicker and more efficient. People may also enjoy taking their time with a task so, efficiency is not their first concern. For example, think about employees who are planning for retirement. Retiring employees often prefer having a conversation with a knowledgeable benefits officer as the employee explores his or her options. A retirement chatbot may be useful for help in filling out forms but, not as user-friendly in the initial discussion.

Chatbots can be a great benefit to the HR department. However, before committing the time and resources to building an HR chatbot, make sure that employees will want to talk to it.

Bill Brantley
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Bill Brantley teaches at the University of Maryland (College Park) and the University of Louisville. He also works as a Federal employee for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. All opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of his employers. You can reach him at http://billbrantley.com.

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