- ChatGPT has made chatbots popular again. They’ve moved from just being a buzzword to becoming useful tools. Big companies like Microsoft are investing a lot in them.
- A chatbot is like a computer friend you can talk to using text or voice. Conversations feel more natural than clicking.
- There are different kinds of chatbots: Rule-based chatbots follow set rules and respond based on specific words you use. AI-driven chatbots use AI to understand and learn from what you say, getting better over time. Hybrid chatbots mix both approaches.
- Chatbots are often used to help customers, like in customer service, marketing, or online shopping. Beyond these applications, a chatbot for training employees has also proved to be a good investment for businesses.
- Chatbots make learning feel like a friendly chat. This chat-based training approach offers a relaxed environment for learners. This is the essence of effective employee training via chatbot, making the process engaging and relatable.
- Employees need to keep learning. But there’s not always time, and sometimes training can be boring. Using AI for workplace training, chatbots offer an innovative approach.
- Chatbots in corporate training can be updated easily and can reach everyone, no matter where they are.
- Chatbots can help with sales training, compliance training, new employee onboarding training, and more.
- With the rise of Chatbots in eLearning, there’s a shift towards a more interactive and personalized training approach. Chatbots won’t replace all training, but they will be a big part of it. They offer new ways to tackle old training problems.
Chatbots: From Hype to Handy Helpers
“Bots are the new apps.” That’s what Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft, said in 2016. He was talking about how chatbots were becoming a big deal.
In 2017, the market research company Gartner made a similar guess. They said that by 2021, most companies would spend more money on making chatbots than on regular mobile apps.
Years went by, but chatbots didn’t live up to their promise. Not to mention, users didn’t like them. It seemed like a regular ride on the hype cycle.
But in November 2022, things changed. Chatbots were in the spotlight again. Why? Because of ChatGPT, made by OpenAI. Suddenly everybody was chatting with this tool to get quick answers, inputs for content, or even computer code.
Today, it looks like Nadella’s 2016 guess was pretty close. It just took way longer. Microsoft went on to invest billions into OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, and to integrate AI into almost all of its products with Copilots everywhere.
So, has the time for chatbots finally come, and if yes, what are they really good at? This article briefly touches on the basics and then focuses on the application of chatbots for employee training.
What is a chatbot in the first place, you might ask. A chatbot is a computer program you can use with text messages or your voice. It is like chatting with a friend in your favorite messenger app except that a machine sits at the other end of the line instead of a person. The conversation is automated. Or as the term chatbot indicates: you’re chatting with a robot.
This type of software is called a conversational interface. There are other types of interfaces too: to use an early computer you needed to enter commands (DOS). Then graphical interfaces made computers more accessible because you could click with a mouse cursor on an icon on a computer screen or later tap your finger on a button of a smartphone app.
The new aspect of conversational interfaces is this: you can talk to a computer by using text or your voice. You don’t even need a screen anymore. By the way, in the latter case, you could also use the term voicebot.
You can find a chatbot on a website, typically in a bubble in the lower right corner, or as an entire landing page. Chatbots can also be integrated into messenger apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Telegram or into a business messenger like Microsoft Teams or Slack.
There was a time when virtual Assistants like Alexa, Siri, and the Google Assistant found their way onto our smartphones on into our living rooms with dedicated smart speakers.
Are you interested in learning more about the history of chatbots? We have a paragraph about it in our blog post “Can Chatbots Improve Online Learning? A Scientific Review”.
Types of Chatbots
When considering chatbots for employee training, they can primarily be designed in two ways: using set rules or utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI). Some chatbots use both methods, and these are called hybrid chatbots. Let’s explore these types.
A rule-based chatbot follows specific rules you set. If users type a certain word or click on a button, the chatbot knows exactly how to respond. It’s like the chatbot is following a script. This means the chatbot always gives the same answer to the same question. However, it can’t answer questions that aren’t in its script.
Benefits of Rule-based Chatbots
- Easy to Create: They’re simple, quick, and cheaper to set up. You don’t need to be a tech expert or know how to code to make one.
- Easy to Use: Users can’t go wrong or reach a dead-end, they will always stay on the path you predefined.
- Simple Maintenance: They’re straightforward to look after.
- Predictable Responses: They always answer in expected ways because they follow set rules.
- Clear Logic: It’s easy to understand why they give certain answers. This isn’t always the case with some advanced AI chatbots, which can sometimes seem mysterious in how they decide to respond.
- Ready to Use Quickly: Once you set the rules, they’re good to go. Unlike some AI chatbots that need time to “learn” before they’re ready.
- Doesn’t Need Much Power: They don’t need the same heavy computer power that some AI chatbots do, so they might be cheaper in the long run.
- Safe and Controlled: They only say what they’re programmed to. This makes them a safe choice, especially when you don’t want any unexpected answers.
Disadvantages of Rule-based Chatbots
- Feeling Limited: Some users might feel the chatbot’s answers are too fixed and might feel boxed in or talked down to.
- Harder to Update: If you have lots of rules, changing or adding to them can become tricky.
- Can’t Handle Surprises: These chatbots struggle with questions or comments they haven’t been programmed for. This can annoy users if the chatbot keeps getting things wrong.
- Growing Pains: As the chatbot needs to do more tasks, adding new instructions without messing up the old ones can be hard.
- Repeating Themselves: Users might hear the same answer over and over if their question isn’t just right.
- They Don’t Learn: Unlike some other chatbots, these ones don’t get better with time. They don’t learn from what users say or ask.
Suitable Use Cases for Rule-based Chatbots
- Advice and Explanations: When users seek guidance or need things clarified.
- Guided Processes: Helping users with multi-step tasks or procedures.
- Learning: When users want to gain new knowledge or information.
AI-assisted, AI-driven or AI-powered chatbots use Natural Language Processing (NLP) or Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to understand and answer questions from users. They can learn from conversations and handle many different kinds of questions, more than the chatbots that just follow set rules. The most popular examples of AI-driven Chatbots are ChatGPT, Bard (by Google), Perplexity, or Claude.
Benefits of AI-driven Chatbots
- Handles Many Questions: They can answer a lot of different questions, not just the ones they’re set up for.
- Keeps Learning: The more they chat with users, the better they get.
- Personal Touch: They can give answers that match what the user likes or needs.
- Deals with Unclear Questions: They can understand and answer even if a question is a bit vague.
- Speaks Many Languages: Some chatbots can talk in more than one language, which helps more people use them.
- Knows the Chat’s History: They remember what was said earlier in the chat, so conversations feel smooth.
- Gets Better with Time: They can answer more and more questions as they learn, without people needing to update them a lot.
- Learns from Honest Feedback: They improve by listening to exactly what users tell them.
- Puts Customers First: They focus on what users need and want.
- Works Fast and Efficiently (automation): They can quickly handle tasks like answering basic questions, which helps in places like customer service.
Disadvantages of AI-driven Chatbots
- Tricky to Start: Setting them up needs a lot of data and know-how.
- Unexpected Answers: Sometimes they might give answers that surprise (“hallucinations”) or aren’t right.
- Needs Powerful Data Centers: They require more computational power, especially during the training phase.
- Regular Check-ups: While they learn, they also need periodic retraining and oversight to ensure accuracy.
- Takes Time to Start: Before they’re ready, they need a lot of time to learn from a lot of data.
- Can Be Biased: If they aren’t taught right, they might give answers that seem unfair or one-sided.
- Can Be Costly: Because of the high-tech parts and expert help needed, they might cost more than simpler chatbots.
- Can Be Confusing for Users: Some people might not know what to ask or how to talk to them.
Suitable Use Cases for AI-driven Chatbots:
- Handling Questions: They can answer tricky questions that don’t have simple answers.
- Assisting: They can help by guessing what users might want based on past chats.
- Giving Instant, Updated Answers: They can give answers on the spot and can change their responses as they chat more.
- Personal Touch: They can give advice or suggest products that fit what the user likes.
- Chatting Like a Person: They can talk more freely, not just sticking to a set script.
Today, with chatbots like ChatGPT, most of the described efforts needed to develop AI-driven chatbots have been accomplished by providers like OpenAI. It has become much easier and cheaper to take advantage of AI-based Chatbots through APIs (programming interfaces).
Hybrid chatbots blend the structured approach of rule-based chatbots with the adaptability of AI-driven ones, capturing the best of both worlds.
Popular Chatbot Use Cases
As we’ve seen, there are three main ways to design chatbots. All of them can make chatbots helpful to users and good for business. Next, we’ll look at the most common ways chatbots are used.
Apart from helping businesses talk to their customers, chatbots can also help inside a company, improving how a business works with its employees.
Chatbots for Customer Service
When customers experience a problem with a product or service, they want the right solution right away. Looking up a handbook or checking a help section are not common anymore these days. Customers search the web, call the hotline or live chat with agents to immediately get the answer they are looking for. The annoyance starts, when customers can’t find the answer on their own or are passed on from agent to agent.
A well trained chatbot is capable to handle the most common requests on the spot, thus providing a high quality of service. At the same time it gives agents more time to take care of the complex cases. From a business point of view chatbots in customer service are seen as a way to increase the employees’ efficiency and maintain service levels.
Chatbots for Marketing and Sales
Have you seen those small chat boxes on the bottom of websites? Sometimes, there’s a real person chatting with you. But many times, it’s a chatbot. Chatbots help in different ways on websites. For instance, they can show visitors where to go based on their questions (navigation). If a visitor is confused, the chatbot can help. Instead of filling out a form, chatbots can also collect contact information. Their main job is to start conversations, especially in sales. They can get details from potential customers or even set up meetings (Lead generation and lead qualification). This lets salespeople focus on talking to the most interested customers.
Chatbots in Ecommerce
Online stores often have a lot of products to choose from. With so many options, it can be hard for customers to decide. That’s where chatbots come in. In E-Commerce, chatbots can provide guidance through the store similar to an agent on the floor of a brick and mortar shop.
Chatbots for Health and Well-being
Digital training assistants, like chatbots, can significantly contribute to health and well-being initiatives. Chatbots for learning can help track things like weight or heart rate, give basic health tips, remind people to take their medicine, or even help with relaxation exercises. Before seeing a doctor, they can also give a quick check on symptoms to see if a visit might be needed.
Chatbots for Finance and Banking
Banks and other financial institutions often use chatbots to help people quickly. These chatbots can tell people their account balance, show recent money moves, set reminders, and give simple money tips (financial literacy). This makes everyday bank jobs easier without going to the bank or using a special app.
Chatbots for Employee Training
Now, let’s dive deeper into the world of chatbots for employee training, often known also as a chatbot for corporate training. As the chatbot-technology is applied to educate personnel, they are also called e-Learning chatbots, educational chatbots or just learnbots.
Simply put, they are a great example of AI-driven employee education and make learning feel like having a friendly chat. It’s easy and fun, just like talking with a friend at work. We’ll discuss this use case more in the following sections of this article.
Why Use Chatbots for Employee Training
Before we see how chatbots help train employees, let’s look at the problems they’re trying to fix. In today’s fast-changing digital world, it’s important for employees to keep learning. To stay ahead, they need to regularly update their skills and knowledge. However, there are some challenges.
Increase the Impact of Learning
Hand on heart, aside from educators and L&D professionals not many employees get excited about learning for its own sake. Similar when you talk to executives or business owners: learning is quite often perceived as just time away from work. Most professionals and their superiors see learning as a means to an end: they want to achieve an outcome. This could be for example a change of habits, behavior or culture. That’s for sure ambitious. And there’s no silver bullet.
Make Use of Limited Time
The most obvious challenge is the lack of time. Professionals find themselves in back-to-back meetings. When should they find time for their development? In fact, a study by Deloitte found out that professionals can only dedicate one percent of their work time to learning. Thats’ beween four and five minutes per day. When you consider the sheer amount of information and knowledge they should absorb and how soon it will be updated again, that’s very little time.
Increase Learner Engagement
Learning at work in its many forms like classroom training or e-learning are widespread with digital methods having become more common after the pandemic. However, as consumers we are spoilt with beautiful and convenient software and top notch content for news and entertainment.
Traditional e-learning doesn’t enjoy the best reputation. Mandatory training like compliance training is perceived as boring. Learning and internal communication are in the same battle for attention. That’s why they can learn a lot from marketers on how to capture attention and create engagement. The worm has to be tasty for the fish, they say.
Increase the Relevance
One-size fits all content definitely has a plus on the production side as it is easier to get done. Yet, it won’t work for every employee. Skill and knowledge levels are different across the organization. Why bore an employee with something she already knows or that’s not relevant for her? That’s not motivating. The difficulty is to create personalised and adaptive learning experiences at scale – and budget-friendly.
Knowledge is the only good that increases when shared. Only, if it’s accessible. Accessability matters on the technical level: Learning Management Systems (LMS), Learning Experience Platforms (LXP), Learning Apps or even the internet might be filled with valuable knowledge but are seldom part of a daily work flow. Quite often they are described as silos. Not even to mention that still not every tool supports mobile devices like mobile phones or tablets.
L&D professionals are challenged to deliver training content to the environments people are accustomed to and where they communicate and collaborate in every day. Accessability also matters on content level: topic matter experts might insist, that a certain subject just has to be dry and needs lengthy sentences or complex diagrams. Making knowledge accessible also means to boil it down into easy-to understand bite-sized chunks. Even complex or technical topics.
Become Available for Remote and Frontline Teams
Since the world has experienced lockdowns where everybody who could had to work from home, remote and hybrid work has become increasingly accepted and even requested by parts of the workforce. Tying an organisation together and creating a sense of belonging across a remote and dispersed team is one of the challenges in this setting. Another one, keeping teams up to speed when everybody has a different time and location that works best for them.
Become More Agile
To get a classical e-learning from the idea stage into the hands of employees can take weeks and even months. In addition, this type of content production takes a lot of resources not to mention the substantial costs it causes. While many teams have switched to agile forms of collaboration and production, it seems the colleagues from L&D and internal comms still enjoy their waterfall methods. Customers, competitors and technology move fast, it’s a challenge to update staff on frequent updates or short-term development. Have we mentioned that the training material itself also needs to be updated?
Benefits of Chatbots for Employee Training
Now that we understand the challenges businesses face in learning and development, let’s see how e-learning chatbots can help overcome them.
Challenge 1: Increase the Impact of Learning
24/7 Support & Immediate Responses
With continuous availability, chatbots can reinforce learning regularly, ensuring a change in habits, behavior, or culture.
Chatbots adapt to the individual needs of learners, making the learning experience more outcome-focused and impactful.
Challenge 2: Make Use of Limited Time
Chatbots cater to learners anytime they want, making the most of the limited time professionals have.
Chatbots can deliver concise, impactful learning chunks suitable for short breaks or in-between tasks.
Challenge 3: Increase Engagement
Motivation and Engagement
Interactive nature and real-time feedback make chatbot interactions engaging and less tedious than traditional e-learning.
Personalized Learning Paths and Feedback
Chatbots adjust their training approach based on individual needs, ensuring content relevance and engagement.
Challenge 4: Increase the Relevance
Chatbots deliver content tailored to the individual’s skill and knowledge level, ensuring maximum relevance.
Challenge 5: Increase Accessibility
Chatbots are easily accessible anytime, anywhere.
Consistent Training Delivery
Chatbots offer consistent learning experiences across various devices, including mobile phones and tablets.
Chatbots boil down knowledge into easy-to-understand chunks, making complex topics more digestible. Think of chat-based microlearning (or conversational microlearning).
Challenge 6: Become Available for Remote and Frontline Teams
Chatbots can reach remote and dispersed teams, providing a consistent learning experience regardless of location. They can be scaled to train any number of employees at the same time.
Employees can access chatbots as per their convenience, suiting varied schedules in remote settings.
Challenge 7: Become More Agile
Once set up, chatbots can instantly deliver content, making them more agile than traditional e-learning methods.
Scalability & Consistent Delivery
Chatbots can be easily updated, ensuring that the training material is always current.
Summary of the Benefits
Chatbots for training and development are great for employee training. They are available all the time and on every device, which makes them perfect for frontline teams too. Due to the short and bite-sized character of elearning chatbots, they enable ongoing training and facilitate continuous learning. Repetitions and learning reinforcement ensure knowledge sticks, thus increasing the impact of training. Personalized educational content and feedback increase the relevance of what is being learned. These are good reasons for any businesses to transition to chatbot-based learning platforms.
Use Cases for Chatbots in Employee Training
From E-learning chatbots to specialized employee training bots and learnbot experiences, let’s see how chatbots can help train staff in various ways. These use cases often overlap and can include skill development, knowledge enhancement, assessment, compliance and onboarding at the same time. Chatbots can mix different training needs and methods for a well-rounded experience.
Chatbots for Employee Onboarding Training
An employee training chatbot can be an invaluable tool during the onboarding process. Employee onboarding chatbots make new hires feel welcomed and informed. Use chatbots as virtual buddies, guiding new coleagues through company processes, culture, and initial tasks.
Chatbots for Sales Training
Increase revenues by teaching sales teams how to sell your product effectively. Use chatbots to simulate customer interactions, allowing salespeople to practice their pitches and handle objections.
Chatbots for Customer Service Training
Empower agents to give customers the best service. Use chatbots to simulate customer complaints or queries, allowing agents to practice their response skills.
Chatbots for Product Knowledge Training
Ensure customer-facing employees can effectively communicate the benefits of your products. Use chatbots to explain product benefits or simulate customer inquiries about products, allowing employees to practice their explanations.
Chatbots for Compliance Training
Ensure employees remember and stick to the rules and regulations when it matters. Use chatbots to test their knowledge and provide instant feedback, reinforcing key compliance points.
Chatbots for Security Awareness Training
Protect your organization from cyber threats. Use chatbots to test employees’ knowledge of security protocols, providing immediate feedback and tips for improvement.
Chatbots for Employee Sensitivity Training
Promote a respectful and inclusive workplace. Use chatbots to simulate various workplace interactions, teaching employees how to handle sensitive topics and situations.
Chatbots for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) Training
Create a workplace where everyone feels heard. Chatbots can guide employees through diverse scenarios, helping them appreciate unique perspectives and support fairness for everyone.
Chatbots for Refresher Training
Maintain and improve knowledge retention after initial training sessions. Use chatbots to periodically quiz employees, providing reminders and updates in a conversational manner.
Chatbots for Frontline Training
Equip the non-desktop workforce with the necessary information and tools. Use chatbots to deliver training and updates directly on mobile devices, ensuring they are always informed.
Chatbots for Customer Enablement
Turn knowledgeable customers into revenue sources. Chatbots, acting as virtual training assistants, guide customers through product features, ensuring they get the most out of their purchase.
Chatbots for Knowledge Checks
Understand what your employees know and where gaps exist. Use chatbots to quiz them on various topics, helping shape future training initiatives.
Chatbots for Scenario-based Training
Interactive training bots help employees practice real-world scenarios in a safe and controlled environment. Use chatbots to train employees on how to handle difficult situations, such as customer service complaints or safety hazards.
Chatbots for Employee Engagement
Keep your team motivated and involved in their work. Use chatbots to check in with employees, gather feedback, and provide resources or activities that foster a sense of belonging and purpose.
Best Practices for Designing and Implementing Chatbots for Employee Training
Businesses hope to see benefits when they train their employees. Sometimes, it’s tough to measure these benefits in clear numbers. However, changes in how employees act or greater awareness of a topic are key signs of success.
We’ve put together a short summary how to create effective chatbots to train employees that begins with this idea. You can read it here. To show you a practical example, there’s a case study on how chatbots are used in compliance training.
Are chatbots the future of corporate training?
Simple answer: No. More detailed answer: Training chatbots are definitely carving a niche for themselves in the corporate training landscape. Why? Bot based learning can help solve major challenges in employee training.
Integrating Chatbot L&D tools can provide a solution to your training needs. By using AI chatbots for employee training and development, you can ensure a continuous learning chatbot experience. Chatbots might be the missing piece in your learning technology stack.
Try eggheads for free and gain first-hand experiences with AI-Powered Chatbots for Employees. Let’s figure out how chatbots can enhance employee training at your organization.