Chatbots help create better engagement with employees

SAN FRANCISCO—The majority of hotel employees don’t work at a computer or have an email address—which can make getting feedback difficult. Beekeeper, an employee communication hub, recently added an intelligent chatbot to its repertoire, aimed at soliciting employee feedback—but the company has bigger plans.

Companies can use the chatbot to send surveys and monitor response rates, as well as send targeted automated follow-ups.

Beekeeper’s CTO Flavio Pfaffhauser said the chatbot reduces pain points: “It was hard to get feedback from employees because they couldn’t be reached,” he said. “Surveys were usually done offline and then needed to be digitalized again.” According to the company, response rates for well-written surveys reach 60% at best.

And, said Pfaffhauser, “Because it was offline, it could only be done around once per year, so it was very infrequent. This can run surveys much more frequently, and it’s really easy to use for the employees… The way the survey comes out is more like a one-on-one text messaging session. After you ask the first question, you’ll automatically be given the second question, like you’re texting back and forth with a friend.”

The company kept simplicity in mind when creating the solution. “It should feel as natural as possible,” he said. “All of the complexity is hidden in the back end systems that power the chatbot—all of the logic, the connections to other enterprise systems that deliver the information through the chatbot, that is hidden.”

Beekeper’s chatbot enables employees to give feedback

Within an hour of launching, Beekeeper clients created more than 500 surveys. He added that because the survey can be done quickly, employers don’t have to create long questionnaires. “If you ask five questions once a week or every other week over the course of time, you can compile some really great data you can start to analyze internally,” he said.

According to the CTO, it also leads to better employee engagement. “About 80% of the hotel industry doesn’t have an email address,” he said. “It’s been neat to see how the simplicity of the chatbots, and the ability to connect with the majority of the staff that wasn’t connected before, what an impact it has on employee attitudes and productivity.”

But employee surveys aren’t the only use for this solution. For instance, the CTO said, “You can have a pre-stored chatbot that would be sent out in case of, say, an earthquake in California, asking are you OK—yes or no. If they say no, you can have the chatbot follow up for help, so the hotel can [act]appropriately.”

Or, he said, “There could be integrations with the PMS where workflow could be noted and prioritized. A housekeeper would use the chatbot feature to say that room 210 is clean, and the chatbot would ask where they’re moving next, or could give the housekeeper the next room to move onto. It’ll be interesting to first connect, but then automate and streamline the workflow in a way that makes it easier and more efficient at an operational level.

“As we think of chatbots today, we think of them mostly to distribute relevant information to the employees (i.e., shift schedule, payroll, etc.) or push information out,” he continued. “A big next step for chatbots is establishing the other direction: getting information back to Beekeeper and further into other integrated enterprise systems. We are starting to implement artificial intelligence (AI) to making chatbots smarter by ‘listening’ to the chats and being able to decode employee messages and respond accordingly. Many employees have the same questions that HR teams have to answer repeatedly as they arise. The chatbot would listen, understand the question being asked and automatically respond with the appropriate training video, policy, or relevant information to the employee… There will be more integrations that will be powered on top of chatbots coming.” HB

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