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Utilizing a Chatbot as the Entry Channel for an HR Shared Services Contact Center


While everyone is familiar with Automatic Call Distribution systems that support the routing of incoming calls to the right agent based on answers to a predefined set up questions, the use of “Chatbots” is a more advanced technology solution that ups the ante by automating via software programs much of the interaction related to a customer service inquiry that previously could only be performed by a live person.  Today, the variety of applications for the use of Chatbots is extensive in the corporate back office, including Human Resources related activities.  While it may be several years before this type of employee inquiry management can be handled entirely by a Chatbot, there are many aspects of it that are ideal for the application of intelligent automation, particularly artificial intelligence.

Company Experience

A recent Peeriosity PeercastTM looked at the efforts of one of its member companies in utilizing Chatbot technology as an entry point to their HR Shared Services (HRSS) contact center.  Our feature company, a global consumer products company headquartered in Europe with over 50,000 employees and more than $25 billion USD in revenue, shared their experiences in automating their HRSS contact center operation.

Looking first at the history and structure of the company’s HRSS operation, in 2010-13 HRSS was established, with the main global process and support centers being located in South East Asia (captive) and India (outsourced).  These two global centers only provide support in English, with several regional centers providing local language support in each of the major geographic regions.  The company offers a wide variety of Hire-to-Retire processes in their HR Shared Services operation and this is part of a larger Integrated Business Services organization that includes Finance, HR, and IT. 

The company initially launched the first phase of chat functionality for their HRSS operation in late 2017 using Office 365, SharePoint, and Skype for their initial chat functionality.  A Chatbot was launched with limited capabilities in some countries, including welcome messages and follow-up messages while employees are waiting in the chat queue.  Also, when the HRSS center is closed, the Chatbot handles the messaging related to hours of operation, etc.   

Phase 2 of the implementation of the Chabot functionality will go live in the middle of 2018, with the launch of enhanced bot capabilities. The plans are to make it the front-end of the chat functionality for handling employee inquiries and providing content-related responses. The expectation is to provide a limited scope of knowledge at first for the Chatbot and then to enhance it gradually.  The Chatbot will be able to identify frequencies of specific employee inquiry topics and the HRSS team can then add intelligence to the bot to address those questions.  It is expected that the core chat technology will still be based on Microsoft solutions. 

Further details, including the technical configuration for Chatbot 2.0 and specific learnings from this project, is available exclusively for Peeriosity members in the member’s area of the Peeriosity website.

iPollingTM Results Review

As part of the research related to the application of automation in the HR contact center environment, a poll was developed using Peeriosity’s iPollingTM technology.  The first poll question looked at the overall structure of the employee contact center, with the results being fairly evenly distributed among several of the response options.  The global contact center design is being utilized by 20% of the companies, with another 32% using multiple regional centers, such as those located in the Americas, EMEA, etc.  An additional 16% have centers supporting multiple countries, but not entire regions and 12% structure their employee call centers based on supporting specific business units rather than geographical regions.  Finally, 16% of the companies do not have an employee contact center in place at this time.

The second poll question then focused on the level of automation utilized at the employee contact centers, with the results being quite interesting. First of all, a significant majority (68%) of companies indicated that their contact center uses a limited level of automation, with such standard call center technology as Automated Call Distribution (ACD) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) being utilized.  While no companies said they were using a highly automated level of leading-edge technology, such as bots and artificial intelligence, 16% indicated that they have a strong use of advanced call center technology.  This research clearly points out the significant opportunity for intelligent automation to transform the employee contact center operation at most companies.

Some of the comments made by Peeriosity members related to this poll include the following:

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: We have one contact center serving 58K employees. We have a fairly robust telephony solution; however, we’ve yet to activate all of its capability to move us into a more moderately automated call center.

Consumer Products & Services Member: In the next couple of months we will begin automating processes in HR Employee Services.

Manufacturing Member: We leverage regional help desk centers (primarily for IT) that can be utilized for other service areas like HR. Limited automation used in our current IT help desk process.

Retail Member: We have several call centers that support various functions, such as eCommerce, Back Office, HR/Payroll/Benefits, etc.

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: Limited advanced automation across our centers currently, but plans are in place to drive automation significantly over the next year.

Closing Summary

The application of intelligent automation in the HR Shared Services environment is a great opportunity for many companies to streamline their operations.  The use of this leading-edge technology in the Employee Contact Center arena is particularly attractive, with the prospect of significant productivity and quality improvements appearing to be very likely.

What is the status at your company related to HRSS contact center technology and the application of Intelligent Automation?  Is it time to take a serious look at this rapidly-advancing technology?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.

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