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What would you do if someone—or something—eliminated 3 to 5½ hours of your administrative duties each day?

AI-and-HRAccording to a study by the Center for Effective Organizations, HR spends a tremendous amount of time on administrative tasks—73.2% of their day in fact. Assuming you work an eight-hour day, that’s more than 5½ hours spent maintaining records, producing reports and answering questions from employees, many of which are related to benefits.

That doesn’t leave much room for evaluating current programs, impacting workplace culture, conducting market research and a host of other “big picture” activities HR is increasingly expected to perform. Simply put, time—our most precious and finite resource—prevents many HR teams of becoming the true strategic partner they were meant to be.

Enter artificial intelligence

While AI will never completely replace the vital role HR professionals play—after all, you put the “human” in “human resources”—a recent survey by CareerBuilder found that HR professionals are handling at least 14 hours of manual work a week that could be completed through artificial intelligence. So, on the conservative side, let’s just say AI can save you around three hours a day.

What would you do with 3 hours today? And tomorrow? And the next day?

Chances are you would choose to work on things of a more strategic nature—leading your organization toward its shared vision while improving efficiency, mitigating risks due to the human factor and improving your overall bottom line.

AI’s impact on benefits administration

Speaking of the bottom line, let’s look at how AI can have a positive impact on one of your biggest budget spends—employee benefits. Today, this line item accounts for 30% to 38% of an employee’s overall compensation. As the key owner and driver of that investment, HR can win big with AI in three important ways:

AI and automation

When you bank online, you benefit from processes that programmers and AI engineers have put in place to save you time and effort, providing you with immediate and seamless access to records that live in the bank’s back office without any human intervention whatsoever. And, it even works in reverse. You can upload an image of a signed check for deposit into the account of your choice. Not only does this save you, as a customer, oodles of time, but it also makes the bank much more efficient. Fewer resources dedicated to manual administration of routine activities means they have more attention to spend on their customers, engaging with them on a uniquely human level, improving services to meet their customers’ needs, etc.

When automation is applied to benefits administration, both the customer (your employees) and the service provider (you and your HR team) win big. Dependent verification is a great example. Not only is this topic a big driver of calls to HR, it’s a sensitive one to both your customer and your HR team. Failure to “get it right” would negatively impact employee engagement and could result in paying massive claims to the wrong people. So, first off, it must be accurate. Machines can do this, often better than humans. And, it must be fast. Your customers expect it. That’s why we added Instant Verification to our suite of AI-enabled administrative services. Using optical character recognition, our system can scan a variety of legal documents, “read” them, and verify that they match what is populated on the member record, instantly approving the dependent when appropriate.

By automating this work, you improve the employee experience while freeing yourself from piles of deskwork so you can concentrate on more strategic endeavors.

AI means better communication

When AI applications are built using strong machine learning principles, they get better and better at doing their job over time. Smart speaker apps like Alexa are constantly learning based on the way people talk to them, processing natural language and responding in kind. We’re still far away from developing something like C-3P0, the protocol droid who is fluent in over 6 million forms of communication. But, another hallmark of AI applications is that they learn fast. Very fast.

When our personal benefits assistant, Sofia, came online just before the 2018 Annual Enrollment season, her knowledge base was limited to 35 topics and she only spoke English and Spanish. Now, as we get ready for AE 2020, Sofia can interact with employees on nearly 170 complex benefits topics in 20 languages. And because she’s available around-the-clock, she can engage with multiple users at the same time—no waiting. In fact, she’s already saved members over 2 million minutes of time they would have spent talking to a live representative. What’s that mean for you and your HR team? As with automation above, it helps create the kind of experience your employees expect today while freeing you up to concentrate on more “big picture” thinking.

AI as an empathy booster

It may seem counterintuitive: How can a machine be more empathetic than a live rep? Actually, 70% of HR pros see AI as an empathy enabler and 82% of CEOs believe AI can help their organizations become more empathetic. Here’s why:

  • AI-based applications can deliver service when and where people want or need it. Sofia works around the clock, making her our MVP. In fact, 25% of her chat volume happens after hours or on weekends, long after you have left the office.
  • AI never judges you or jumps to conclusions. These are uniquely human traits. If you’re a bad speller, for example, Sofia won’t make any judgements about your intelligence level.
  • AI “gets” emotions without getting emotional. While Sofia has no emotions of her own, she can recognize emotion in others by the words they use. To develop and train her, we analyzed years of chat and phone interactions for patterns on how people communicate. Using this information, Sofia learned how to infer the user’s state of mind. If she perceives any frustration, she can transfer the employee to a live rep for a higher-touch response and resolution.

Want more information about AI and empathy? Check out our e-book below. 

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