Executive Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd

Is 2019 the year of the chatbot?

Are you using chatbots yet? These computer programs allow a business to communicate with stakeholders...
Is 2019 the year of the chatbot?

Are you using chatbots yet? These computer programs allow a business to communicate with stakeholders without the involvement of a human being, potentially freeing up employee time and allowing you to focus on the really important, value-adding tasks. But are you ready to let a robot take over some of your more tedious tasks?

What is a chatbot?

“A chatbot works like talking with another person over an instant messenger (such as WhatsApp, SMS or Facebook Messenger) except the other person is a computer,” explains Charlie Markham, CTO of eva.ai. “The most famous original chatbots, such as jabberwacky or cleverbot, were designed to mimic human responses to questions, and to be entertaining. More recently bots have been developed that are trained to specialise in particular professional functions.”

Recruitment seems to ahead of the curve on this trend, with more and more firms installing them as a first line of communication for applicants. Prof. Steven van Belleghem, an expert in customer experience in the digital world, and an award-winning author, believes 2019 could be the year chatbots really make their mark on the recruitment industry.

“In the world of customer experience, there has been a common view that chatbots have been ‘the dog that didn’t bark’,” he says. “Brands had high hopes that they would transform the way customers interacted with them, but they just never quite lived up to expectations.

“However, companies are now starting to learn more about where chatbots are most effective, and I believe that in 2019, we’ll start to see them deployed in a much more focused and intelligent way.”

How can recruiters use chatbots?

Van Belleghem suggests that the best use cases for chatbots are situations where they are used for proactive communication. For example, KLM recently started deploying chatbots to inform passengers where their luggage would come out in the baggage reclaim area. “Sharing information about an upcoming event adds value to a customer, and it is actually much easier than using bots to solve complex customer service issues, which often escalates into customer frustration,” he says.

For recruiters, this could be as simple as informing candidates when feedback about their application is ready for them to view, or inform them of start dates. Applicants may be able to ask a bot questions such as who to ask for when they arrive for an interview, or if there will be parking available for them, completing a lot of simple administration tasks that otherwise might have taken up time through phone calls or emails.

“While recruitment agent time is limited, and constrained by their individual ability and productivity, bots give candidates control back, and give recruiters time to have longer, deeper conversations with those people in the short-list,” adds Markham.