Chatbots are popular in customer service and marketing. But they can do more than just answer questions. They’re also great for teaching people things. They’re quick, work on your phone, and make learning fun. You don’t need a new app. Use them for training new employees, running awareness campaigns, teaching sales skills or product knowledge. Learn more about chatbots for knowledge transfer.
As quickly as chatbots moved into the spotlight a few years ago, they disappeared again. Their undoing was a cocktail of visionary ideas about what they should be able to do, the buzzword artificial intelligence, and underestimated pilot projects by companies that only disappointed users. But the hangover was followed by realistic assessments. The possibilities and limitations of chatbots have also emerged.
Automated conversations with computers
Put simply, chatbots are computer programs. As their name suggests, they enable a chat. Unlike a conversation with a human being, it takes place automatically with a robot (bot). The possible channel is a website or a messenger app such as Facebook Messenger or Microsoft Teams. If such an automated conversation takes place via written language, we are talking about chatbots. If users can interact via their voice, we are talking about voicebots. These are accessible, for example, via digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
A word about intelligence
Chatbots have a reputation for being intelligent. They acquire this intelligence in two ways: in one case, the chat follows predefined rules and paths. In most cases, users can only interact by selecting answer buttons. Chatbots of this type guide the conversation and leave their users limited room to interact. These chatbots are referred to as rule-based. In the other case, chatbots become intelligent because they rely on artificial intelligence (AI). More specifically, natural language processing (NLU), which interprets open-ended input from users and outputs the appropriate response through prior training. Such chatbots offer their users the opportunity to express their concerns freely. In both cases, however, it is true that intelligence is conferred by humans.
Undiscovered potential in knowledge transfer
Today, chatbots are mainly used in customer service and marketing. For companies, it makes sense to automate part of the customer relationship and have a chatbot answer recurring questions, for example. For users as well, since they are only interested in the one question to which they need an answer quickly. They thus only need one piece of information from an underlying knowledge database.
When it comes to knowledge transfer, the picture is different: users are not yet familiar with a topic, so they don’t even know what they could ask a chatbot. In knowledge transfer, one element from a pool of knowledge is to be brought to users. In terms of chatbots, this means: we are not dealing with a pull scenario, where the user queries and where AI chatbots could be useful. It’s more about push. This is where rule-based chatbots can show their strength. The chatbot takes on the role of the expert, guiding through a training session and personalizing it where possible according to the existing knowledge of the participants – and this in the form of a dialog.
Designing internal communication in a user-centric way
One of the overriding strengths of chatbots is that they make the most popular form of communication accessible on the smartphone, if not in digital environments: we’re talking about messaging. As a Swiss study from showed, reading and writing short messages is the most common and popular activity on the smartphone across all age categories. Among digital natives, by the way, talking on the smartphone isn’t even in the top five. Yes, messaging is even driving cell phone usage, ensuring that users look at their device almost every ten minutes to read or write.
A look at the Facebook group further shows that it is aligning itself around messaging with its apps like Instagram, Whatsapp & Co. In 2019, CEO Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed: “We’re building a foundation for social communication aligned with the direction people increasingly care about: messaging each other privately” (source). Thus, the strategic question also arises for companies as to how they can benefit from the advantages and strengths of messaging. If you want to communicate in a user-centric way, you can’t get around messaging.
Chatbots for knowledge transfer
Many features of chat lend themselves to addressing the challenges companies face in their internal communication and employee training: First and foremost is the heavy workload of many employees, which leads them to say that they don’t have time for learning. Those who are away from the workplace often feel or are seen as unproductive. This view is certainly short-term and ignores the fact that performance may suffer in the future. To ensure that employees can still gain the knowledge and skills to do their jobs successfully tomorrow and the day after, companies are increasingly turning to microlearning. Chat is by its very nature short and fast and thus fits seamlessly not only into this trend but also into everyday professional life. Call this approach conversational microlearning.
The fixed workstation and the stationary computer are part of everyday working life for fewer and fewer employees. It is no longer just field staff who are on the move. Working remotely and from a home office is also becoming more common. The lockdown this spring forced companies and their employees to do this – and gave many a taste for it. It’s safe to assume that work will increasingly be done remotely. As a result, companies will not only continue to invest in collaboration tools, but also in other tools that enable a mobile user experience. When it comes to mobile interaction, hardly anything comes close to chat.
Attention is a rare and contested commodity. Goldfish have become famous for their alleged ability to pay attention for nine seconds, one longer than humans. This simultaneously smug and controversial figure has now become a myth in its own right. Regardless of the number of seconds: the challenge is to accept that message recipients must not only be reached, but also remain attentive. Chat offers potential for this on several levels: Chat is casual, entertaining, and interactive. Unlike watching an explainer video or reading a text, users are an indispensable part of the interaction, even driving it.
For onboarding, awareness campaigns and more
Short, mobile and interactive: these strengths can be used in practice for numerous use cases. For example, for the onboarding of new employees: in hardly any other phase of the employee lifecycle is there more knowledge to absorb than in the first days and weeks at a new place of work. A chatbot can guide employees through this phase and provide everything they need in small chunks to make new employees feel welcome, get to know the company and become productive as quickly as possible.
In an ongoing employment relationship, it is further crucial that employees are always up to date. Salespeople who know their own products and services achieve better results. Support agents more satisfied customers. In addition, chatbots are suitable for creating awareness of topics such as data privacy or IT security. Instead of the one-hour e-learning that has to be completed once a year, a chatbot appears regularly and conveys in short bites what risks exist, how employees recognize them, and how they need to act. This keeps the topic present and thus promotes safety. In the context of classic measures such as a classroom seminar, chatbots can be used to repeat what has been learned after the actual event and to transfer it into practice.
Well-informed and trained employees have long become a critical success factor for companies. However, keeping the knowledge in one’s own ranks up to date is a significant challenge. Today, chatbots offer a technology that conveys knowledge in a simple, interactive and user-centric way. eggheads offers you a simple and intuitive way to train employees with your own chatbots.