Conversational commerce will change talent acquisition

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Chatbots.

Voicebots.

Artificial Intelligence.

We’re seeing these popping up all over the place, invading the consumer marketplace in multiple ways. Today, many brands offer options to make purchases, check order statuses, receive information around product suggestions, and more. In fact, Gartner predicted that 30 per cent of our interactions with technology would happen through these conversations with smart machines this year alone.

Here’s a few examples:

Whole Foods: Through its Facebook chatbot, consumers can search for items and receive complimentary recipe options as well.

Trulia: Users have the ability to search for real estate by giving location and pricing to its bot. In return, they will receive a list of available properties and can drill down area demographics too.

Dominos: Introducing conversational commerce to the fast food industry is smart. Via the Dominos chatbot, consumers can build pizza orders from scratch, track order delivery status, and more.

These are just a few showing how companies across multiple industries are using conversational commerce to drive efficiencies and convenience for people. Although the focus is heavy on the impact conversational commerce will have on the ecommerce side of things, brands need to start thinking about the opportunity to apply this same concept to talent acquisition within the organisation.

What exactly is conversational commerce?

Coined by Chris Messina, former lead product designer for well-known brands like Uber and Google, conversational commerce refers to the intersection of messaging apps and shopping.

“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalisation, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.”

- Chris Messina 

And it’s not like conversational commerce is a new idea. Think back to 2011 when Apple introduced Siri. It promised you could talk to Siri like a human being, advertising it as “an intelligent system, to get things done just by asking.” But, Siri didn’t turn out to be all that intelligent – at the time, it couldn’t do much. It made a bad first impression in the world of conversational commerce.

Fast forward to Amazon’s introduction of Alexa in 2014 – 18 per cent of US adults presently own a smart speaker like Amazon Alexa, and this number is only going to continue to increase. It’s much more intelligent than Siri, and it will continue to evolve into a smarter machine in the not so distant future.

 “Siri has become the Blackberry of conversational commerce, and Alexa is the iPhone.”

– Mahe Bayireddi

Much like conversational commerce will impact our interactions with technology as consumers, it will impact the future of talent acquisition and the way candidates search for jobs and recruiters source for talent.

What’s this have to do with Talent Acquisition?

Think about the current challenges both organisations and candidates face when it comes to talent acquisition. Through conversational commerce, there’s a unique opportunity to solve many of those challenges by catering to the expectations of the candidate.

Conversational commerce translates to conversational recruiting in the talent acquisition world, enabling organisations to attract, pre-qualify, and engage prospective talent with real-time and continuous communication. As a result, candidates are able to receive quick bursts of information at times that are convenient to them. If they are looking for a job or application status in the middle of the night, it’s no problem for a chatbot to engage in conversation.

Let’s take a closer look at the opportunities.

Think of your candidates as consumers: According to Drift’s 2018 State of Chatbots Report, 27 per cent of consumers predict they would buy a basic item through a chatbot. It’s pretty easy to predict that these same consumers would be more likely to search for job opportunities through a chatbot or voicebot like Alexa. On the other side, what if recruiters could source for talent through Alexa?

Recruiter: “Hi Alexa, how many software engineers with Java experience are there in a 10-mile radius of our corporate headquarters in Denver, Colorado?”

Alexa: “Hi Brad, there are 55 software engineers with Java experience in a 10-mile radius of your corporate headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Would you like me to list them for you?”

You get the point.

Solve common candidate frustrations: It’s no surprise that candidates get frustrated throughout the talent acquisition process – beginning with their initial research about and discovery of the company. In fact, 48 per cent of consumers would rather connect with a company via live chat than any other mean of contact. On top of that 40 per cent of consumers do not care whether a chatbot or a real human helps them, as long as they are getting the help they need.

Become more human in the process: It sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not. Enabling chatbots to provide real-time conversation and feedback with candidates helps organisations keep the human element alive. For large organisations, it’s easy for feedback and communication to slip through the cracks, and people just want to know what’s going on and have their questions answered.

Instant Feedback: 57 per cent of consumers are interested in chatbots for their instantaneity. Consumers report being frustrated with websites that are hard to navigate, lack of answers to simple questions, and not being able to find basic details about a company (i.e. address, hours of operation, and phone number). The same frustrations happen with candidates during the job search process.

Free up recruiters to focus on what matters most: Every individual visiting the career site or company Facebook page requires a recruiter’s attention. Through conversational commerce, prospective talent has the ability to ask initial questions, qualify potential opportunities, and learn more foundational information about a company. In addition, they can troubleshoot the application process and learn more about process expectations. This frees recruiters up to focus on meaningful conversations with top talent post-apply.

Although conversational commerce will play a huge role in the future of talent acquisition, it doesn’t mean that you can’t accommodate other mediums of communication. However, in order to become or remain competitive in an already tight talent landscape, you need to start thinking about how to integrate this into your talent acquisition function.

Mahe Bayireddi, CEO, Phenom People
Image source: Shutterstock/Kirill Wright