As the planet struggles to contain the pandemic outburst of a deadly virus called COVID-19, enterprises are having to deal with unprecedented challenges. They are doing their best to ensure their employees’ safety and well-being and are putting in place contingency places and reassuring customers, partners and every other stakeholder that they have the wherewithal to manage this crisis and run efficiently.
For now, most companies have enabled remote working, curtailed business travel, and are extending compensatory benefits for the sick employees and their families and providing advisories on staying safe and healthy.
In times of such crises and uncertainties, the onus to stay connected and communicate with workforce is of strategic concern. Digital and cognitive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) are proving to be a critical asset in enabling a collaborative work environment even in an extremely stressed situation like the current one.
The ostensible need for enterprise virtual assistants (EVAs) has always been understood: to reconfigure and boost employee productivity, accelerate innovation, improve enterprise communications and provide a stimulus for growth. As force multipliers, virtual assistants of various types powerfully blend cognitive skills with conversational-style interactions to boost human productivity and drive enterprise excellence. In times of crises, they can be life-savers.
VAs handle an impressive array of tasks that include both B2B and B2C use cases spanning functions as diverse as sales support, customer service, booking agents, IT services manager and more. This has prompted analysts to predict that by 2022, 85% of customer service interactions will be powered by VAs. Already, a countless number of businesses are using some form of chatbots/VAs and exchanging millions of messages. But an area that’s still surprisingly underserved is VAs for crisis management.
The predominant use that customers have for a virtual assistant is to get answers during emergencies and get them fast, per the 2018 State of Chatbots report (in which over 35 percent of respondents indicated they planned to use them for that exact reason in future).
Taking a cue, we at Kore.ai have formulated a solution – a skill within our enterprise digital assistant offering Kora - that communicates the impact of a situation like COVID-19 within enterprises. It based on the following sound principles:
1. Demonstrates you care
During times of uncertainties, people seek connection. A message or a bulletin through Kora to employees, partners and even customer teams shows that as an organization you’re monitoring the situation and can offer helpful resources. Kora is ideally suited as it can relay messages on multiple channels - social media, email, IVR, messenger, web, mobile or live chat. Given the intensity and widespread nature of the crisis, enterprises are expected to receive a deluge of messages. Kora can easily handle unimaginable scale of emails, social media messages, calls, complaints by scrawling through FAQ pages, knowledge bases and canned messages.
2. Puts you in control of the narrative
Kora provides the enterprise with a handle for content strategy that carefully calibrate which information to release, on which channels and with what amount of detail. Kora will connect to the most reliable sources such as World Health Organization, NIH, or US Homeland Department to check for accuracy, completeness, relevance and timeliness. More importantly, it maintains consistency while handling an enormous quantity of questions and conversations from multiple different locations, across multiple devices. It also keeps the information updated, as in the case of COVID-19, where every day sees new recommendations.
3. Proactively lets you communicate
How about proactively keeping your employees updated about the state of business before they seek information? Kora is a good medium to faithfully inform your employees about changes or impact to business. This will build trust among employees so they can focus on tasks other than worrying about the situation over and over again.
4. Inspires your people
Times of despair also throw up rare instances of solidarity. Kora can be a great source of relaying inspiring stories of humanity. It lets people collaborate and allows them to assist and help those in the need. Kora is a good way to share a donor portal; communicate your philanthropic position; assist with collection coordination; and enable a mechanism to donate products, services, money, or time.
5. Handle regular enterprise tasks efficiently
Beyond health and safety, COVID-19 has implications across many aspects of work. From what we gather, there’s a huge spike in queries related to cancelled business trips, insurance and medical claims, medical leave policies, remote working FAQs or meeting rescheduling requests. When the queries skyrocket, as it often does in a crisis like this, your HR, Finance and other Support teams would find it extremely overwhelming. The wait times to resolve any of them will simply be daunting and non-scalable. Kora is ideal for identifying and categorizing queries quickly, and then resolving the issue without a human agent.
6. Lets employees focus on strategic tasks
Reducing wait times and queue lengths also gives your employees a lead time to deal with more complex or sensitive issues. For example, imagine an employee on a business and quarantined in a foreign country needing medical assistance. He needs special attention be it helping access the right the healthcare support system, or assisting him in the right documentation for travel, visa and more. Such challenging cases need human intervention, which can be taken up by the respective departmental business partners.
7. Easy to rejig internal processes
Your organization may want to change corporate policies in line with the evolving crisis. Thankfully, it’s easy and quick to make and publicize update tools through Kora. Build a new leave management system, a revised reporting structure, a cancellation/rebooking tool as a Skill. Kora facilitates these workflows, and give them more visibility, so that fewer people clog up your queue with requests that they can handle themselves. And more zero-touch resolutions means better, faster service for those that really need it.
8. Kora gets better with time
As it processes requests from employees, or answers queries, Kora becomes more sensitive to information as the worlds of conversational chat/voice interfaces and AI blend. It can understand the employee context, monitor the conversations, interpret the questions being asked, and then suggests answers to your employees in real-time from the Knowledge Base, canned messages, and chatbot intents.
Why Kora When There Are So Many Other Chatbots
As COVID-19 spreads so are proliferating the number of chatbots. A casual search on the internet has revealed there are more than 50 chatbots to choose from when one types Corona, in different languages for varied purposes with diverse states of maturity.
But the most effective use of chatbots/VAs as crisis communication comes from less not more. Instead we need a single source of truth than can communicate and calibrate a company-wide effort. Kora is an enterprise virtual assistant that acts as your cross-functional go-to-person drawing-in expertise from public relations, social, sales, HR, marketing, data/IT, SCR, philanthropy, travel, insurance, logistics, supply chain and customer service to coordinate teams and efforts. It’s a single-interface productivity booster, promising an exceptional conversational and digital user experience for your employees to:
- Set up meetings at the desired time and location
- Send meeting invitations by smartly identifying time slots of the invitees and come up with a commonly available slot
- Search for any folders or files effortlessly
- Work collaboratively with colleagues 24/7 for a better team effort
- Integrate with all the systems with your organization through a single window
- Quickly assign tasks and clear overdue tasks
- Save Knowledge, create a repository of the topics of interest
- Share repository with teammates with access control
If you wish to do something right now, don’t be part of the problem. A crisis of COVID-19’s scale necessitates copious sharing of information. It’s critical that the information is accurate, contextual, applicable and actionable.
In times when people are, understandably scared, re-assurance is all they need. Kora brings people together online at an enterprise-level, and makes them feel less isolated. As you prepare them to work remotely, help them access their most critical enterprise systems while at the same time enabling edutainment and infotainment.