Corona dominates the world of work: most employees are working from home. This has started to feel normal, and is now working rather well. Why? Because everyone knows each other and understands how to work together. But what if you are new to the company and neither know nor see your new colleagues? Who will answer questions, supply important information, and help you identify your points of contact? The answer: chatbots.
What are chatbots?
The word is a combination of "chat" and "robot". These are made up of a complex technical and text-based dialog system. Communication with a chatbot is done via text input or speech recognition and serves to receive, answer, and process user requests without the need for human intervention. Chat bots are being used more and more frequently to assist communication processes and digitalize procedures. This is because the latest generation of chatbots not only carry out a conversation with the user, but also trigger specific processes in other systems and applications by controlling technical interfaces. The chatbot thereby becomes an "Actbot".
Which features should chatbots have?
In one of our last webinars we posed the question: what features should chatbots have? First, the chatbot's intelligence and ability to learn was addressed. With the help of AI (artificial intelligence), chatbots "train" to better identify the needs of the user with every incoming request, and to provide the appropriate response or carry out the desired process. But a chatbot should also be fast and uncomplicated. For example, they should recognize the user and not have to request data, like an email, every time a conversation takes place.
The fundamental advantage of the chatbot is its accessibility. Being a machine, it can be accessed around the clock, thereby relieving employees (e.g. in the HR department) by taking over routine tasks such as travel expense accounting. However, it is also important that the chatbot is recognizable as such a machine. While it's nice if the chatbot has a certain sense of humor and creates an atmosphere of empathy, if the request becomes too complex or the user requests it, the chatbot should immediately let the user talk to a human.
What are the use cases for chatbots?
Chatbots can be used for almost all corporate functions: in external dialogs for the sales, purchasing, product management, marketing, communication, and customer service departments. The same applies to internal processes with HR, IT, and Operations as well as internal support.
In this article, we would like to focus on an internal use case, namely the onboarding of new employees.
What is important when onboarding employees?
When it comes to the onboarding of new employees, three areas can be identified: overall introduction to the company, professional training, and social integration. As part of the overall introduction, important company information and key contact persons should be communicated. To ensure that this part does not become too dry for the "newcomers", gamification can be used to break the ice, e.g. through a site scavenger hunt. An FAQ or good-to-know section on the Intranet, which contains all the information required such as maps, working hours, the canteen menu, and so on, is also very helpful in the first few days.
Most important area: social integration
During the professional orientation, new employees can first complete small, department-specific tasks, such as designing their own business card, before being integrated into more specialized areas. In the initial phase, it is also a good idea to invite the "newbies" to training or introductory courses. The most important area mentioned by many is social integration. The main focus is on feeling welcome and networking with other employees. Appropriate measures include filling out their own profile or creating a blog post on the Intranet, or small challenges such as bringing a cake, making an appointment with a colleague for a (virtual) coffee break, or posting a selfie with a team member on the Social Intranet.
What could an onboarding chatbot potentially look like?
Having a permanent point of contact or mentor was highlighted by the participants of our webinar as an important factor in onboarding. This mentor does not necessarily have to be a real person, but can also be a chatbot. For example, an onboarding chatbot can be integrated into the homepage of the Social Intranet and can guide new employees through every step of the onboarding process. Of course, it must take into account the general, professional, and social aspects of onboarding. As a general introduction, the onboarding bot provides links to important company information, which the new employee can view at any time on the Intranet. In order to convey the information interactively, the "newbie" is presented with a quiz and the result is later evaluated. All the information required for the quiz can be retrieved again via the Intranet.
The chatbot helps new colleagues network
The most recent version of the onboarding bot suggests two webinars for professional training, which can be booked by the new employee directly in the chat window.
As a first step in getting to know other employees in the company, the onboarding chatbot suggests creating a profile on the Intranet and, of course, shares the link to their profile so that they can network directly with each other.
Conclusion: chatbots can become mentors for onboarding
Chatbots are an effective tool for providing information and initiating processes internally and externally. They are available around the clock and, if they are well "trained", can relieve employees by handing routine tasks. There are numerous use cases for chat bots at many different levels, such as training new employees. This is because many important components of the onboarding process can be done via an onboarding chatbot. The chatbot accompanies you through the first months at the company and, therefore, acts as a mentor who is always available to answer your questions. The activities and information a chatbot should provide is entirely up to the company and can be individually customized.
🙋🏻♂ If you want to know more about our partner Empulse and the usefulness of onboarding chatbots, click here or contact them directly.