Chatbots are still making big changes to business

Some businesses still consider their chatbot as a small, point solution to help improve one area, such as customer support, bookings or sales. However, big businesses, or small ones that think big, are looking at bots to change much more of the organisational culture and way of doing things.

COVID is changing how all companies do business and how they communicate, but there has been plenty of evolution in recent years as businesses become more digitally-focused and understand the use of AI and bot technology.

Traditional shoe retailer Clarks is just one of many businesses facing massive issues but has spent the last 18 months making major changes to its digital efforts. The bot and omni-channel efforts aim to keep Clarks relevant and “has been transformational for both colleagues and customers, opening up the brand in new ways to their global market. CAI, the chatbot, now takes 70% of incoming contact, half of them out of hours, resolving three quarters, with an 83% satisfaction rating. Fourteen systems have been combined into a unified desktop for advisors and data is captured across every touchpoint. As a result, the business can now listen to what customers want and colleagues feel they have a hand in owning the customer journey.”

Unilever goes massive with a HR bot

Consumer goods giant Unilever is one of the latest big companies to make a major change within their business using a chatbot. The brand deployed Una in 2018, an AI-powered chatbot to help with human resources tasks across the giant’s 106 country presence speaking 32 languages. Una will help with HR queries, requests and provide information through the company’s Skype tool, making her a seamless part of the business process.

Una will save the company’s HR professionals from dealing with the constant requests from new hires, provide access to all the company’s HR information and services. To drive usage of Una, the company is switching off HR phone numbers and general email boxes as she arrives in each country.

That type of commitment is key to driving the success of the bot, along with intense development, understanding of the HR roles and requirements from users. Unilever is just the latest company to go down this route to let the AI take over a major business function, freeing up the teams around the world to deal with hiring, motivation, management and other tasks.

Danone leading the way with bots for business

Global food giant Danone has simplified its IT service by introducing a chatbot, using Workplace for Facebook to make it accessible to all workers. From dealing with PC tech support to broken iPhones, holiday and insurance requests, the bot was trained to handle a wide variety of requests.

With heavy promotion at company events, and clear placement on intranets and company sites, the bot has helped provide a wide range of information across the company’s global footprint, and helped establish a baseline for future projects. Any company with major public visibility will help drive the bot agenda, and workers will soon be used to these tools in all organisations.

Your business can go big too

Your company doesn’t have to have a global footprint to deploy a bot that can make the company a better, more productive or more efficient place to work. Bots can work in the place of team members you don’t have the time or revenue to hire. It can replace people who are leaving, responding automatically to their most frequently asked questions to take up the load until they are replaced.

Bots can also help startups with next-to-no staff, by acting as a receptionist, customer support or sales agent. These bots can vary in complexity from the simplest scripts to advanced bots with AI features to help them become smarter.

Midsize businesses may find they struggle to recruit the right staff and can use bots as part of the recruitment process, finding the right candidates for the main interview. They can also link bots to other apps and services to create automated chats that help workers make instant decisions for business processes.

IT research firm Gartner listed four more areas back in 2017 where businesses can use chatbots to improve process or data flow. These hold up today and include call center help desk, “chatops” approvals where changes require an employee to approve, deny or defer changes across the business or systems using a chatbot app.

Equipment diagnostic inventory management sees warehouse or Internet of Things connected bots alerting workers when a product is out of stock, or if a shipment has arrived. Lastly, chatbot scheduling agents sees bots talking to each other, linking to calendars or schedules to find open time on multiple calendars for meetings or delivery options.

Bot cloud services like SnatchBot allow any business to create a bot that can impact a few internal users, a globe-spanning department or millions of customers. Whether big or small, the rise of bots in all areas of businesses shows just how fast the landscape is changing.

Companies of all sizes need to get to grips with bots to help make them more efficient and engaging into a future where bots will be a dominant feature for all companies. Many verticals are already aggressively focused on building the chatbot future, and their efforts and lessons can help your company find the right way to go about developing and launching bots to make a difference.