What the heck is a chatbot?

And how could your staffing firm use one to improve the service you deliver?

Glad you asked! I’ve been reading about chatbots for awhile now. Just a few years ago, they seemed like the stuff of science fiction, but today they’re not just reality – they’ve gone completely mainstream. Below, I provide a quick Chatbot 101 and explain why they’re one of the “next big things” in customer communication:

So…What ARE chatbots?

Simply put, they’re automated, conversational bots that you interact with via a chat interface. Without getting too technical, there are two main types:

  1. Rules-based chatbots function on (you guessed it) a set of rules. They’re very limited, because they can only respond to very specific commands. Say the wrong thing, and communication breaks down.
  2. Machine-learning chatbots are much more advanced. This category of bot uses artificial intelligence to understand language – not just commands. What’s amazing is that an AI chatbot gets smarter as it learns from conversations it has with people. Kinda creepy AND cool, right?

Why should you care?

We’re currently in the midst of a fundamental shift in business communications. Within the last few years, mobile tech has taken over the landscape, allowing for real-time, instantaneous, global exchanges of information. This immediacy has heightened customers’ expectations in terms of on-the-go, 24/7 service across communication channels. People want questions answered and problems resolved, NOW.

And for the first time ever, people are using messenger apps more than they are using social networking apps. Bottom line? Messaging apps are service platforms of the future.

How could your staffing or recruiting firm use a chatbot to enhance customer communication?

Here are a few potential applications:

  • Rather than just having a static FAQ page on your website, a chatbot could provide answers to questions posed by clients, prospects, field employees and potential candidates.
  • Rather than relying on a standard Contact Us form, an AI chatbot could gather information about a customer’s issue or concern and:
    • perform rudimentary triage, based on its experience with the customer (these things learn and remember!);
    • provide immediate feedback which may resolve the problem immediately;
    • or escalate the issue, routing the customer to a real person for help.
  • Helping your recruiters with answering questions and performing C and D level tasks like:
    • following up on assignments to verify that the employee and client are both happy;
    • answering questions about an assignment (e.g, directions, scheduling, supervisors’ names, etc.);
    • or taking orders, especially repeat orders for current customers.
  • Helping your accounting team with billing and payroll, for example:
    • handling address changes and other account updates;
    • getting approval on timesheets, or even facilitating time sheet entry;
    • or reminding clients about over due payments and handling questions about billing issues.

What a chatbot ISN’T

This technology can deliver amazing enhancements to customer communication – especially in terms of timeliness and efficiency – but it definitely won’t fix bad customer service. What’s more, bots have the illusion of simplicity on the front end, but they take a ton of work on the back end to create a seamless (and not frustrating) experience for the user. As this technology matures, more cost-effective options will likely become available.

Did someone say “automation”?

Haley Marketing has a full complement of solutions that make it simple and cost-effective to communicate with clients, prospects and job seekers – and deliver consistently shareworthy service experiences. How can we help? Connect with a marketing educator today.

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