You’ve probably tried to contact a company on Facebook Messenger or on their website several times and found yourself faced not with a person answering you, but with a chatbot. The chatbot may have given you the answer to the question that led you to buy the service or given you instructions on how to pay. So it will have provided you with an exhaustive answer at the time you needed it and regardless of the time.
But what are we talking about when we talk about chatbots? And how helpful can they be in the HR world? Let’s try to find out, starting first with the definition of what a chatbot is and then seeing what it is used for and more specifically how it can help recruiters.
So what is a chatbot? It is a software based on Artificial Intelligence, able to simulate an intelligent conversation with the user through a chat. The term chatterbot, hence chatbot, as reported by Wikipedia, is an invention of Michael Maudin, in turn inventor of the chatbot Verbot, who in 1994 defined such conversation programs in this way.
It is used for the main messaging platforms such as Slack, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, but also for websites and much more.
It behaves like a human being, with all the limitations of course, and is able to interact with the person in front of it, so much so that it is called an ‘intelligent agent’. It is therefore used in those situations where the person on the other side basically needs answers or support.
Another thing that is important to know is that, if managed well, it can process a huge amount of requests by simulating a human responder. It also allows you to interact with the user by not only answering their questions, but also advising them, providing multiple choices, redirecting them to online stores, websites, landing pages etc…or pointing them to the nearest shop, company headquarters and so on.
Going even further into the details of how it works, chatbots are closely linked to Artificial Intelligence, although a difference must be made between rules-based chatbots and AI-based chatbots.
In the first case, as can be guessed, these softwares base their behaviour on rules that have already been preset through instructions such as ‘if this… then that…’. That is to say, if a user asks a certain question or performs a certain action, the chatbot identifies what the most suitable answer might be, based on its background knowledge (such as information about products, services, returns, etc.). Once the answer has been identified, it provides the user with a text if it is a written chat or a voice message if it is audio.
In the case, instead, of the chatbot based on Artificial Intelligence, there is a whole part of machine learning. In this case, the software is based on understanding natural language, processing it and consequently giving answers that take into account how people interact. This makes the bot smarter, more effective and also improves its performance in terms of time.
Behind the access interfaces of these chatbots, therefore, are NLP engines, i.e. Natural Language Processing or NLU, Natural Language Understanding. In the first case, natural language is processed in such a way as to make it comprehensible to the machine, while in the second case there is a psycho-linguistic analysis that can also lead to predictive analyses.
On the basis of how they act, the chatbots can be defined as “simple” or “smart”, simple and intelligent. The former are rule-based, the latter AI-based.
The uses that companies can make of chatbots are very diverse. Let’s look at them in detail.
When it comes to attracting potential leads and completing the entire sales process, chatbots can be a great solution. Why? They can generate several leads by qualifying them with relevant questions asked at the right time, as well as directing them to the sales team or even scheduling a telephone appointment. A chatbot that relies on Artificial Intelligence is able to ‘get to know’ the potential customer better and ‘accompany’ them towards a purchase. What’s more, it can do this at any time.
The use of chatbots is fundamental, both when the user is about to make a purchase and afterwards. When the user is about to make a purchase, towards the final part of the sales funnel, its presence can be decisive. Think, for example, if your credit card is not accepted or if you have problems going ahead with the purchase.
Having an immediate response from a chatbot is a great help. And this also afterwards, when the purchase is completed. For every problem that needs to be resolved, a chatbot can provide excellent customer care, making the person feel listened to. Consider, then, that not everyone feels like talking on the phone or writing an email to ask for explanations: a chat conversation can seem faster and more immediate.
The chatbot can be very important for the recruiting world. And really in so many ways. As a conversational interface, it helps to perform basic processes using Artificial Intelligence.
It can therefore help in the collection of basic information, perhaps missing, as well as ask screening questions about candidates’ qualifications and consequently ‘classify’ them according to these characteristics. Chatbots can then answer candidates’ most frequently asked questions and set up interviews with them. They therefore automate up to 80% of recruiting activities. And this information is entered directly into your company’s ATS (as In-recruiting can be) or into an internal database. All this obviously increases candidate engagement and allows you to avoid or rather ‘reduce’ certain recruitment biases.
The advantages, as you may have guessed, are various, but one of them is certainly the greater presence of the recruiter and the consequent saving of time. What do we mean? That a chatbot has the gift of “ubiquity” meaning that it can talk to a person via email, via LinkedIn, via Facebook or “work” within the ATS.
Just think: if as a recruiter you had to manage all these conversations at the same time, you would certainly be at risk of a nervous breakdown! Moreover, this way, you can respond to more candidates and increase their level of satisfaction. Think of all the people who complain that they don’t get a response and thus have a negative candidate journey.
Also, while you are interviewing or doing other tasks that no bot can ever replace you for, the chatbot is taking care of the heavy and boring stuff.
Of course, it will never be able to behave like a person, i.e. realise certain emotions, be empathetic and understand the mood of the person in front of it.
Thank goodness: the chatbot helps as much as it can and should, and according to the needs you really have.