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Could chatbots become the future of training?


The applications of artificial intelligence in the human resources field aren’t exactly big news. For several years now, organisations have relied on innovative AI-powered tools for essential HR processes such as recruitment, employee engagement, and performance review, and the results have been encouraging. According to a recent study, 96% of recruiters believe that AI can enhance talent acquisition and retention, and 55% of them expected AI to become an integral part of HR in the following five years. However, AI could play an essential role in employee training as well. In the same way that machine learning can enhance customer support, through chatbots, it can also improve the retention and application of new knowledge and skills.

Assisting employee learning and development are complex tasks that will always require a human touch, but that doesn’t mean that they must be carried out 100% of humans. In fact, by combining human training with automation, organisations can boost efficiency, save resources and solve staffing problems, while at the same time empowering employees to maximise their potential.

The benefits of incorporating chatbots into corporate training

Thanks to the latest innovations in ML & AI development, chatbots have become more and more fine-tuned, reaching impressive levels of likeliness to a real person. By replicating human speech patterns almost exactly and learning constantly with each interaction, chatbots can streamline business processes and by the year 2020 80% of businesses will use them in one way or another. But how exactly can a chatbot train personnel and what tangible benefits do they offer compared to human trainers?

Chatbots can solve staffing problems and reduce staffing costs

New personnel require constant assistance and attention, but if your company is understaffed, their training needs are unlikely to be met. When you only have a couple of trainers on-site and they have to split their time between teaching and other tasks, new employees will find it difficult to learn, on top of that they could make some critical mistakes. For most organisations, increasing the number of trainers is simply not feasible. On the one hand, staffing costs are high and their presence isn’t justified once employees finish their training. On the other hand, qualified personnel may not always be easy to find. Chatbots can solve this problem. They are available 24/7 and your new employees can use them at any time for their learning needs. During this time, the staff that would normally deal with training can do their job as usual and only step in when necessary.

Chatbots are available 24/7

Imagine your new product development engineer has a question, but the trainer is on another floor, or in a meeting. In this non-automated context, the engineer would either have to wait, slowing down development, or do their job without getting an answer, which could lead to expensive errors. But when training is done with the help of a chatbot, this scenario doesn’t exist anymore. Chatbots are available at all times, even during breaks or after hours, and anyone who needs help, old or new employees, have all the necessary information at their fingertips. Receiving instant support not only reduces frustration but also increases productivity, because there is no downtime due to lack of training. Even old employees can benefit from chatbots because they can refresh their memory or take quizzes to continuously improve their knowledge.

Can be integrated with existing software to provide additional data about employees

Almost every company uses some form of enterprise software to streamline HR and modern chatbots can easily be integrated with your existing platform to provide additional data about employees. By having employee files, performance reviews and training data in the same place, it will be easier for you to pinpoint weak spots and address them before they become liabilities.

Chatbots are easy to engage with

The idea that a chatbot could teach you as much as a human trainer might sound uncomfortable, but studies show that people aren’t that reluctant to interacting with AI. According to a recent study, 44% of U.S. consumers prefer chatbots over humans for customer communication because they’re fast and easy to engage with. Employees are no different. If a trainee could refrain from asking a senior staff member a particular question because they would be embarrassed or afraid to be scolded, a chatbot is not intimidating so they would just ask the question right away.

Chatbots are flexible

Not everyone learns at the same pace. Some new employees pick up speed right away, while others need more time to get used to their tasks. Training these two types of employees in the same group isn’t efficient, which is where chatbots come in. Thanks to ML capabilities, the chatbot can identify patterns and learning difficulties and adapt the training rhythm after each employee. Unlike a human trainer, a chatbot doesn’t mind repeating the same thing over and over until it’s clear.

Does this mean that chatbots are a threat for human trainers?

Even at the current rate of development, robots are unlikely to replace human teachers and things don’t look any different in corporate training. In fact, research shows that 65% of recruiters say that AI doesn’t make them nervous and they don’t have any issues with incorporating them into the workflow. The role of chatbots and artificial intelligence isn’t to replace human workers and make them obsolete. The human touch is irreplaceable in education, but what chatbots can do is take over some of their duties, freeing them up from repetitive tasks and empowering them to use their skills in critical ways. Last, but not least, chatbots can provide human trainers with essential insights into trainee performance, allowing them to enhance the learning experience and maximise trainee potential. The best trainers will use chatbots at the workplace as part of an expanding toolkit, and the modern enterprise will undoubtedly continue to change, but a human will always be in charge.

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