Five innovative Uses of Chatbots
16. June 2019
Chatbots are set to be the next big trend that will save us time and money. Our innate fascination with robots that “feel human” keeps this technology in the headlines. But chatbots are neither intended to do all our work for us, nor to fool us into thinking they are real live personal assistants. Instead, they serve to help us process complex topics in simple steps, and learn in a natural, conversational way. To learn about the basics of conversational learning with chatbots, you can read our article, What is conversational learning, and why is it so important?
As chatbot technology becomes more advanced, a variety of fields are finding many innovative and interesting uses for it. In digital learning, chatbots are being applied with ground-breaking results. What can a chatbot use for your organization? Get inspired by these five examples of chatbot application.
1. Human resources: employee education and a safe, secure workplace
HR teams are experts at managing employee relations and training in the workplace. This includes making sure employees understand policies and regulations, and how these policies can keep them safe and secure. When it comes to sensitive topics like harassment, not everyone feels comfortable approaching his or her HR team to ask questions or explain a difficult situation.
Chatbots can be an invaluable resource for educating employees on harassment and other sensitive topics. For example, an interactive chatbot can offer ways of recognising and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. It can also make sure employees are aware of what resources or next steps are available to them.1
From outlining concepts and procedures to alleviating employee concerns, chatbots provide useful support. They can educate staff on how their rights are protected, and how to seek help if they need it. Chatbots humanise processes, and employees can “talk” to them without fear of judgement.1 Although they are not a replacement for HR professionals, chatbots can act as a first point of contact to start important conversations, and help build foundational knowledge in the workforce.
2. Mental health education and support
If chatbots can help improve health and safety in the workplace, then why not put them to wider use outside of the office? Chatbots can be - and have been - used to provide support and education in the field of psychology and mental health awareness.
Not everyone has easy access face-to-face therapy when they need it. This could be for financial reasons or because of geographical location, for example. While a chatbot cannot replace professional therapy, the technology can impart essential knowledge about mental health. This in turn can also help people improve their psychological wellbeing.2
How does this work? Alison Darcy, a clinical research psychologist at Stanford University, has designed a chatbot to walk people through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques. CBT teaches people how to “break negative patterns of thinking,” and it often requires regular check-ups with a therapist over several weeks. Darcy’s chatbot, called “Woebot,” can guide users through some basic CBT techniques and check in with them daily. It uses emojis, gifs and a friendly conversational style to encourage users along their journey.2
3. Patient communication in healthcare
Of course chatbots can’t make diagnoses or provide treatment. But they can be an invaluable resource to healthcare staff who manage correspondence with multiple patients at a time.
A chatbot can be programmed to direct patients to their nearest clinic, remind them of their next appointment, or even answer certain questions about health and treatments.3 It can keep the conversation going between appointments, and collect health history data.6 Chatbots can make interactions more patient-friendly, and can also reduce the workload for medical administrative staff.
4. Student engagement in schools: is banning smartphones really the answer?
Like any other institution, schools are adapting to the digital age. If put to the wrong application, mobile phones certainly detract from student learning. But they can also help students to thrive if used properly. For example, a chatbot can simplify a lecture or help a student to catch up on his or her schoolwork. 4
Instant messaging has become second nature not only to young people, but to the modern world at large. Forced separation from a smartphone feels like a punishment to students. To create a relaxed, attentive classroom environment and increase student engagement, teachers are taking steps to incorporate smartphones into learning rather than banning them from class. 4
A chatbot can become a handy teaching assistant by breaking up a lecture into small pieces of information and turning it into an instant messaging conversation. The chatbot can pose questions and check student knowledge, as well as provide clarifications if the learner is having trouble understanding a concept. The teacher need only insert pre-written messages and multimedia into the interactional interface. The chatbot platform does the background work of presenting certain content in response to a student’s input. 4
5. 24/7 Assistants for Start-up Businesses
For entrepreneurs, chatbots can assist with the work being done to get a business off the ground.5 Data-mining, number crunching and other “grunt work” can be assigned to a chatbot. When it is provided with data on a regular basis, the chatbot can answer questions like “what was our profit margin last quarter?” and keep track of set targets. This frees up employees to think critically and creatively. The chatbot can then give feedback on how their plans align with its data, creating a synergetic conversation. 5
A chatbot can handle tasks like scheduling, reminders, data processing, and financial alerts. It can even be taught to perform instant language translation for communication with international clients, or to assist with customer service using its predictive capabilities.5 Even with limited resources and a small group of employees, a new business can develop faster and smarter with the help of a chatbot.
So, how will you use your chatbot? There’s still a lot more to be learned about how chatbots and conversational learning strategies can benefit your organisation. Download the eBook The Power of Conversational Learning - Chatbots in the Workplace to explore the possibilities and learn how to effectively use chatbot technology.