Tom Waddell in Conversation with Martyn Redstone – October 2020

Martyn
Martyn is an experienced recruiter with more than a passing interest in chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) within the recruitment process, he has had numerous articles published on these subjects in both the industry recruitment press and the wider tech industry.

With over 15 years of experience in the recruitment industry with half of that dedicated to digital transformation, Martyn is well placed to talk about the latest tools and technology to help makes recruiters’ lives easier.

Tom - Martyn, thanks for taking to time to chat with me today. Let’s start by summarising what you offer to recruitment businesses.
Martyn – Thanks, Tom. Really appreciate you inviting me to chat. So, to summarise, I work with recruitment businesses to unblock processes using technology. For the last three years, I have specialised in helping recruiters automate repetitive and mundane time-sapping conversations using conversational and messaging technology – chatbots, SMS, WhatsApp etc.

Tom - Excellent, what type of companies would generally use your services?
Martyn – I work with all types of recruitment businesses – from business with a handful of staff all the way up to some of the biggest recruitment businesses in the UK.

Tom – Can you explain in layman’s terms how a chatbot works in the context of recruitment
Martyn – Sure, of course. Ultimately, we’re looking to use a chatbot to converse with candidates and clients on behalf of the recruitment business and there are a number of conversations that have been proven to be effective when taking place with a chatbot.
However, the first thing that most businesses forget is that the chatbot is a representative of your brand – think of it as the helpful employee that greets your customers as they walk through your door. It needs to reflect your brand and your organisation’s style. It needs to communicate and ‘speak’ in the same way that you would expect any employee to when they answer a phone call.

Tom – What benefits do companies derive from using bots over human interaction?
Martyn – there are many benefits, which depend on the scenario or conversation that the chatbot is automating. The main benefits that most recruitment companies realise are time savings, improvements in candidate and client experience levels, revenue growth opportunity and increased data enrichment.

Tom – Are there areas where a bot is proven to work best?
Martyn – Absolutely! There are two main areas when it comes to automating messaging and chat – inbound and outbound. Inbound can be best thought of as the reactive side of a recruitment business’ operations with the areas that have been proven to work as converting website visitors (both candidates and clients) into prospective leads, helping screen applicants for your jobs and answering FAQs (which could be about a job, or subjects like temp payroll enquiries etc.).
On the outbound side of things, we can think of this as proactive engagement, with areas that have been proven being scenarios such as scheduling interviews, reaching back out to previous applicants to get more information, or re-engaging your database to fill your jobs, reactivate their data profiles are gather referrals.

Tom – Other than the points listed above what other advantages are there to using bots?
Martyn – Experience is the other piece of the puzzle. One of the most frequent objections that I hear is “my candidates won’t speak to a chatbot”. Without sounding arrogant, this is just plain incorrect. In every project that I have been involved with, I have seen the opposite – high engagement levels and high satisfaction levels.
In fact, I recently carried out a project for one of the UKs largest recruiters, where we used automated SMS and chatbots to keep their database engaged during the recent pandemic-related lockdown. 25% of recipients clicked through from the SMS to the chatbots and 81% completed the chatbot conversation. Think about that. Those stats equate to a 20.25% engagement rate. Email on its best day will get you around 2.32% engagement.
And it’s not just me. There is plenty of research out there showing that consumers of all walks of life are using chat as their preferred form of engagement. Salesforce recently reported that given the choice between filling out a website form or getting answers from a chatbot, only 14% of its customers would choose the form.
We also know that COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital communication strategies in over 2,500 global companies by an average of 6 years, due to this being one major way to address a lot of the business challenges that the pandemic has created – doing more with less and dealing with an ever increasing workload of inbound enquiries.

Tom – Most people would think utilising chat bot technology is expensive and technically beyond them – is it?
Martyn – Not really, I think this is symptom of poor marketing and startups that just want to concentrate on the bigger fish in the industry.
When looking to implement chatbot technology, it’s not just the price that’s important, but the value it brings to the organisation. For instance, calling through applicants to screen them, or resourcing from your database – there’s only a finite amount of capacity a recruiter or resourcer has in their day, but a chatbot can work 24/7 speaking to multiple people at the same time. There’s huge value in that.
As an example of value, in one week, working through 500 candidate to proactively re-engage them and reactivate their profile, we saved 2.71 days of consultant time (which equated to around £833 of time opportunity) and uncovered a further £15,000 of temp revenue and £21,000 or perm revenue opportunities.
The outlay? £660! Chatbot technology shouldn’t be expensive and out of the reach of all sizes of recruitment businesses.
Regarding the technology side of things. To some degree it is technically beyond most recruiters. That’s why most chatbot vendors have decided to build platforms that are based on decision-tree types of chatbot conversations. It’s easier to use and build a conversation. However, conversation design is a specialism in itself. In fact, I think I am the only certified conversation designer in the industry and, to the best of my knowledge, there’s maybe one US-based recruitment chatbot vendor that actually employs conversation designers.
However, I have recently partnered with a chatbot vendor – AiRecruiter.com – as they provide the best of both worlds. The chatbot design and build is done by them and the recruiters are given access to the dashboard for the data to action.
That way, recruiters can be provided with the best type of chatbot – one that works on conversationalAI and is built and designed for them, and all they have to do is worry about the results.

Tom – How would a business know when using a chatbot is right for them?
Martyn – There can be various indicators to consider when deciding if a chatbot is the right solution. It could be that your website is getting a lot of visitors, who are not converting into applicants or client leads. It could be that your team are overwhelmed with the amount of applications coming in, or that you want to refresh your database to reactivate it – for GDPR, to source from it or to offer job opportunities out to candidates quickly and at scale.
There’s no one correct answer here but talking it through tends to get to the right answer – whether it’s right for a business or not.

Tom – Can they be used as one-off exercises or is it a long term commitment?
Martyn – Either really. If you’re looking at a reactive chatbot, then it needs to be longer term as you may not see value in a short amount of time – especially as one of the concepts of conversation design is that no chatbot conversation can really be tested until it’s in the real world and does need some tracking of how it is being engaged with before it can be iterated to get it performing at its best (I suppose like training a real member of staff).

Tom – Any online resources you could point people towards?
Martyn – For chatbots in general, there are loads of online resources. One of my favourites is the content that’s put out by the team at Conversational Components - https://a-i.com/category/blog/
For anything relating to recruitment chatbots (and without being modest) I invite your audience to follow me on LinkedIn – as I tend to share as much about recruitment chatbots as I possibly can.

Tom – Finally, what is the best way for anyone interested to contact you?
Martyn – Either via LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/mredstone/ or by heading to my website www.pplbots.com


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