A professional assistant that gives insight and answers your questions at any time -and always the right time- on sales figures, trends, analyses and/or information on competitor activities may seem too good (or too expensive) to be true. If this were actually reality, it would mean you have all the relevant information to hand at all times. It would put an end to endless searches in network files or SharePoint for the right data, which you have to transform into something meaningful before you can work on it. And if this assistant could also send messages for you, give updates to colleagues and manage your schedule, you'd be guaranteed to work more efficiently.
Recent developments in the field of chat- & voicebots \ make this scenario a real possibility—and this assistant no longer needs to be a real person, according to Gartner. VAs and chatbots are capable of much more than tracking down annual figures and sending back search results. They can learn and save your preferences, initiate processes, adapt results based on your preferences and even make recommendations or predictions. These applications are not limited to personal assistants, they can be deployed right across your organisation.
In my previous blog I explained what chat- & voicebots are and the value they can create
for your business. At KPMG we have developed a platform to apply this value in the best possible way and to manage it proactively. In this blog I give the five most common use cases where this technology can add value. With investments in this industry already topping $24 billion, analysts, trend watchers and other experts are labelling these developments as the 'next best thing'. So I urge you to start on your own use cases right away, as 38% of surveyed businesses are experimenting with self learning virtual assistants, according to Gartner’s 2018 CIO Survey.
Dealing with and solving customer questions is one of the most common use cases for chatbots. You find them answering internal IT helpdesk questions and dealing with external queries to customer support services. As a virtual workforce, chatbots take over the tasks of service staff and support teams. Chatbots are able to identify customer questions and, if properly designed, automatically give answers and follow-up. The benefits of chatbots compared to traditional customer support structures include: 24/7 availability, automatic processing of first-line customer contact, and rapid and consistent answers to easy questions. Well-designed chatbots are capable of continuous learning—so the quality of the interactions will continuously improve—provided your business gives the right support. The main advantage here is that it frees service desk staff from mundane work and gives them more time to perform complex tasks.
Which is why companies that apply this technology are improving the quality of their customer support, are seeing greater efficiencies, cost reductions and potential to reduce workforce numbers in the long term. The biggest challenge for chatbots in IT and customer support is developing them in such a way that they can truly engage in the conversation to save time for your customers and your company.
I already mentioned that VAs can provide insights into a company’s finances. A recent McKinsey-report shows that many financial tasks are well suited to be automated. When a business has the capacity to obtain accurate financial insights at every level of the organisation at the right time, it can accelerate decision making and improve quality. VAs could be the ideal solution to harmonise financial data and KPIs within your organisation.
Well-designed chatbots can request and analyse this data for you at any time. The CFO, controller or manager is then able to take more rapid and more effective decisions without having to work through all the data themselves or ask colleagues for assistance. The greatest challenges in this respect are structuring the data and linking it to often complex business infrastructures. The next phase for these VAs is to join up with other data sources. In this phase the VA will not only be able to provide insights but also make predictions or recommendations.
Chatbots are the ideal tool to generate online leads for customer acquisition. This technology can add immense value in the sales process: from requesting extra customer information and direct sales to qualifying a lead. In most cases it's about responding to the prospect with the right information to rapidly establish if there's a mutual click. Time is of the essence here: the longer the customer waits for a response, the more likely you are to lose this sales lead.
Research by Inside sales and Harvard Business Review shows that long response time can cause a 400% drop in customer contact. This is where chatbots’ ability to provide rapid responses adds value. Using chatbots to book meeting rooms frees up time for the sales team to engage with customers and reduces time spent on lead qualification or generation. These sales processes are essential for both new and established companies. They require high quality and mature conversations, customer relationship management and personalised service before you can deploy them successfully.
HR bots are capable of supporting employees in every step of the HR process, from registering their time off to finding training courses or bonus entitlements. A good example is recruiting large numbers of temporary staff. An HR bot can conduct a simple dialogue with candidates to screen them, give them an induction training and answer questions on terms of employment. HR bots can also do the background checks for the screening process and gather information on all candidates.
When these automation processes are properly designed, they can reduce processing costs, improve employee satisfaction and guarantee consistency. Unlike sales and support bots, HR bots generally deal with personal data. In these cases you must ensure that the data stays in-house, that you comply with GDPR and Data Protection guidelines and that the users can be easily identified.
By definition, smart buildings are continually developing and the technologies available can raise collaborative working to new heights. The Smart IoT sensors which are now operating in or being added to most buildings provide a huge new source of valuable data which is interesting for customers, suppliers and employees. VAs form the overall connecting factor between all elements in these smart buildings: gathering information on energy consumption, dimming the lights, booking meeting rooms, displaying elements on smart boards and sharing content. Developers are continually extending these applications and providing them as modules.
The tangible benefits you could gain from VA applications include: increasing the productivity of buildings, energy savings and increased commitment from employees. These, in turn, may lead to faster product development cycles, reduced CO2 emissions, lower management costs and higher employee satisfaction.
These are just a few of the business benefits to be gained from VAs and chatbots. There are many more business applications which could add value for your company. If you haven't yet investigated the possibilities, my advice is: select those use cases which could add the most value to your organisation and just make a start. And make that start today. It’s not a matter if but when most business processes will be automated through chatbot and VA technology. So it’s really worth your while to start building the skills in your organisation today. Learn how to maximise the value of chatbots for your company.
If you have questions about this blog or would like help and advice on making a start on chatbot & VA technology in your company, please contact us at this page.
Through Smart Tech Solutions, KPMG unleashes its worldwide knowledge and experience in the areas of growth, performance, risk and regulation. With the help of data and technology, our smart tech solutions create insights into performance, opportunities and threats.