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Top 2 HR chatbot examples for the experience-driven job market

Chatbots, which use AI to mimic human conversations via natural language interfaces, are increasingly becoming a mainstay in HR. Here's a look at why that matters.

HR chatbot examples abound as human resource teams look for ways to streamline time-consuming processes and improve experiences throughout the employee journey.

As HR leaders look for ways to become more strategic, chatbots -- with their ability to mimic human interaction -- have the potential to both cut down on drudgery and offer better experiences to job seekers and employees.

To highlight that connection, here's a look at some of the most common ways that HR is using chatbots.

A better candidate experience during recruiting

Recruitment chatbots are taking over many of the most low-level or time-consuming tasks so that candidates get more personal attention where it counts. In today's tight labor market, offering a good candidate experience is key to hiring top talent.

Recruitment chatbots have the potential to help throughout the recruiting process, said Paul Phillips, global head of talent recruitment for Avanade, a consultancy on the Microsoft ecosystem and a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture. Chatbots can help candidates navigate a careers site, provide them with answers and help recruiters more quickly screen candidates. They can also reach out to candidates in candidate relationship management databases, Phillips said.

Recruitment chatbots can help keep candidates updated. That's a critical endeavor given that lack of communication is a widespread job-seeker complaint.

Candidate resentment is on the rise -- 40% higher since 2016, according to a report from Talent Board, a nonprofit research organization focused on candidate experience. Candidate resentment springs from a negative experience that makes the candidate far more likely to sever the relationship, opt to not apply again with that employer in the future and refrain from recommending that employer to other job seekers.

Candidates who could ask a chatbot questions felt they had a more positive candidate experience than those who couldn't, according to the same research. Indeed, candidates who interacted with a chatbot were 80% more likely to increase their relationship with the employer and continue with the candidate process.

An improved self-service HR employee experience

Self-service HR isn't successful if employees have trouble figuring out processes and need to check in with human resources anyway. Chatbots have the potential to help.

HR can use chatbots to answer common questions pertaining to company policies and processes and take over routine administration tasks.

For example, new hire assimilation is filled with routine processes that traditionally have taken up HR's valuable time.

"HR chatbots are used in gathering pre-boarding information to help with a smoother transition as well as answering pre-day one and new hire questions," Phillips said.

HR chatbots' value extends beyond that for job seekers and new hires, however. 

"If you are applying for a mortgage and want an employment verification letter, you can request the letter in the chatbot and will receive an email with the attachment," said Shantanu Jha, IBM vice president of HR transformation and operations. "The chatbot recognizes your working country and provides the appropriate response.”

A chatbot can also help employees find out their vacation balance, request time off or order a copy of their pay slips via the chatbot, Jha said. It can help U.S. employees order a reissue of their W2.

These things can simplify this part of the employee experience, Jha said.

"The chatbot can even help you create a support ticket [if it] is not able to satisfactorily respond or resolve your inquiry or request," he said.

As long as HR rolls out chatbots in the right way, they have the potential to help streamline a wide range self-service HR offerings.

"From answering benefits FAQs to notifying HR of an employee's desire to make beneficiary, life events and plan changes to insurance, and finding benefits planning tools, chatbots are a fast and efficient means to provide timely, two-way information," said Sreedhar Veeramachaneni, CEO of System Soft Technologies, an IT consultancy.

HR chatbot challenges

Despite good results and an uptick in adoption rates, chatbots do pose some challenges. Chief among them is the complexity of many HR events and encounters that the human resources department will find difficult to automate.

"Most HR chatbots are based on small data sets and data from different environmental settings," said Nir Kshetri, professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a research fellow at Kobe University. "Concerns related to accountability and fairness may also prevent the use of HR chatbots, and there are also legal constraints since AI-related regulations are at a nascent stage."

Even so, the advantages in using chatbots are sufficiently strong as to secure their future in various HR roles, Kshetri said.

"There are numerous benefits because computers are better than human beings in performing repetitive mathematical tasks," Kshetri said. "Their judgement and intelligence are also not affected by factors such as emotions, feelings, wants and needs, and they are capable of processing a large amount of information."

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