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HR Web Portal – From Chatbox to Virtual Assistant


Having an effective HR web portal in place can take a significant load off the entire Human Resources organization.  The challenge is not only properly designing and implementing this type of solution, but also driving up usage levels by the employee base.  What is becoming a too frequent occurrence is that some companies do not exercise the proper due diligence in the initial design phase of the web portal, which can result in a tool that is lacking in functionality, difficult to use, and frustrating to the employees utilizing it.

While Tier 0 solutions are often implemented with a well-populated knowledge base containing a variety of policies, forms, and other documents, the ability of the employee to actually retrieve that information can be complicated when the initial design does not include a well-conceived plan to index the information and map it to relevant topics.  This results in the necessity to carry out an eventual major revision to the employee portal to resolve those inherent design issues that could have been avoided with proper planning at the start of the original design project.

Company Experiences

A Peercast discussion in Peeriosity’s HR Shared Services research area featured a global company with over $60B in annual revenue discussing their approach to adding functionality for their HR Portal to move from a FAQ chatbot design to a true virtual assistant design.

While the chatbot had success, limitations cited included:

  • Natural language training was rules-based
  • No built-in intelligence
  • Not context sensitive
  • Limited scalability and growth
  • Reactive development

The chatbot had great global penetration at 94% of the HR volume, but the user experience was frustrating with confusion about what the chatbot knows, and too much gray area without a clear and accurate answer.

The transition to a virtual agent created an advanced self-service solution with the following attributes:

  • Use of advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand employee queries
  • Interactive responses
  • Integrated with multiple company systems
  • Custom responses based on the user’s profile
  • Easily available through multiple channels
  • Offers full HR content

The solutions architecture includes ServiceNow, GENESYS, Workday, and Cornerstone SBX.  For more details about their design and implementation experience, Peeriosity-100 members are encouraged to review the full presentation and listen to the Peercast recording in the HR Shared Services research area. 

Polling Results Review

A poll was created to better understand how Peeriosity-100 member companies approach this topic.

The first poll question asked about the status of Peeriosity-100 companies for using a web portal for employee self-service and if yes, their satisfaction level.  Interestingly, 78% have implemented a web portal, with 22% who are very satisfied, 44% who are somewhat satisfied, and 12% who have implemented and their solution needs improvement.  For the remaining 22%, 11% have approved plans but have not implemented, and 11% are evaluating the opportunity.

The second poll question asked about the level of sophistication of the employee self-service web portal solution and specifically in the implementation included a chatbot or a virtual assistant, and if yes, the level of satisfaction with the implementation.  The results indicate that 38% of companies have implemented, with 13% who are somewhat satisfied, and 25% who have implemented and their solution needs improvement.   An additional 25% have approved plans to implement and the balance of 37% are either evaluating or they have not considered the opportunity.

Upon closer inspection, these poll results include implementations that include both chatbots and virtual assistants.  As described by our feature company, the impact of transitioning from a chatbot to a true virtual assistant was huge, and significantly changed the landscape for what the solution was capable of, and the level of user satisfaction from the implemented solution.

Closing Summary

While employee self-service technology has now been around for many years, at most companies it is still a work-in-progress, with much to be done to improve in this area.  The challenge of generating and maintaining consistently strong employee usage remains, even when companies get the technology piece of the puzzle right.  The good news is that it is possible, as demonstrated by a number of companies across the globe, when the appropriate focus and resources are applied.

What is the status at your company with respect to the implementation and utilization of an employee portal?  Is your current solution meeting your needs or is it time to take another look at this critical technology?

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


“Peercasts” 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 Mail, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees.

“iPolling” 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 Mail, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

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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