Using chatbots in corporate communications
Chatbots can be used in a company for internal and external purposes. Internal bots can be accessed by employees, for instance to seek assistance with unfamiliar tasks or to obtain information. External chatbots talk to customers, partners or other stakeholders, and can for example support customer service.
Currently, chatbots in corporate communications are mainly used internally. Many companies first want to gain experience with an audience that isn’t as critical as external stakeholders. Other companies are testing the technology in small internal communication projects.
Benefits of chatbots
Chatbots can help companies to save costs, improve the availability of their services, and reduce the workload of employees. This allows staff to devote more time to complex problems and to “quality” communication with customers, stakeholders and other employees.
The are especially three specific areas in which chatbots have proven to be useful:
- Customer service: Simple questions with standardized answers can easily be handled by chatbots. They can, for example, accept customer inquiries, answer simple questions immediately, and forward more complex topics to employees.
- Information for employees: Instead of reading extensive FAQ documents, employees can simply ask an internal chatbot, which will respond by finding the appropriate answers and resources for them. In addition, questions can be recorded and then used to better adapt the internal knowledge database to employees’ needs.
- Website personalization: Chatbots can start a conversation with website visitors, for example to get information about their interests and previous knowledge. The content and presentation of the website can then be adapted in the background to their needs.
Pitfalls of chatbots
- Limited capabilities: One of the main concerns is that chatbots make mistakes, don’t work as planned, or just aren’t sophisticated enough to be of any real use. Communication is often dynamic and unpredictable, yet chatbots are still too static and not flexible enough to deal with unexpected topics.
- Limited empathy: Another reason not to use chatbots is their lack of responsiveness, depending on the sector a company operates in and the purpose of the bot. Therefore, bots may not be suitable for dealing with conversations in cases where empathy with the customer is important.
- Limited transparency: It should always be clear to users that they are communicating with a chatbot and not a human being, as otherwise they might feel deceived or get angry about any failings.
- Limited data: Chatbots rely on a database to offer added value. If a bot is to be more sophisticated than generating simple if-then clauses and become genuinely helpful, it has to access huge amounts of data. Projects involving data for chatbots may also be viewed critically by the company, especially by the works council, or even contradict the company’s guidelines.
- Limited expertise: Many organizations lack the expertise required to implement and handle chatbots systems, and so have to consult external contractors. The company But although outsourcing the implementation of chatbots may be easier and quicker for a company, this approach impedes the company’s internal learning process. Therefore, companies need to decide early on whether the topic is important enough to build up expertise within the company.