It is interesting that few companies have yet embraced artificial intelligence (AI) for internal communications. Using chatbots, for example, would have some big advantages in terms of flexible working, and any-hours access to key teams and information.[1] At our recent roundtable,[2] we explored some ideas about how to supercharge internal communication team productivity by partnering with AI. Here are the key takeaways from the event.

It is important to put your people at the centre

It is tempting to reduce work by concluding that your customer-facing initiatives are nothing to do with most of your employees. However, that is a mistake. Whatever the initiative or goal, there is always an internal audience. Customers may end up speaking to anyone within the organisation, especially with social media’s ability to connect people—and your employees are your best advocates. [3]

Internal communications need clear objectives and a plan—but cannot be rigid

Having clear objectives and a plan for your internal communications helps to avoid overload and overwhelming employees. However, it is important to avoid rigidity in your planning. Almost every initiative changes as it develops and grows—and your internal communications plan will need to change too. Using agile methods can help to ensure that you retain the flexibility to amend your communications with your plan.[4]

Internal stakeholders are customers too

We have said before that employees are one of your biggest assets, and your most powerful advocates. They are expensive to acquire and more expensive to lose. It makes sense to think of them as the customers of your internal communications, and focus on improving their experience. Using AI can allow you to do this, by reducing wait times or ability to access essential information. This may also be a good opportunity for marketing to support other functions in the business by sharing expertise on measuring customer experience.

“This time, it’s personal”

You do not think twice about personalising communications to your customers, so why is it so hard to do it for employees? Your employees are also individuals. Using AI can help you to better understand how different employees like to obtain information, and enable you to tailor both communications and channels to match their needs. The bottom line is that AI gives you the chance to radically enhance employee engagement through personalisation.

Internal communication is about both facts and feelings

One of the obvious uses of internal communications, and especially of AI, is enabling employees to find the right information at the right time. This supports internal processes and functions. However, AI can also be used to understand the experience of finding information, and gauge employee reactions to communication events and wider change. This, in turn, can help organisations to adapt and tailor communications, and also to manage stakeholder expectations.

AI can support measurement and understanding around internal communications

Critical to any automation within communication processes is the ability to measure and report on impact. This, in turn, drives increased understanding of the effectiveness of messaging, and the use of different channels. This applies to both customer-facing and employee-facing communication. Assessing and analysing likes, shares and comments can provide new insights into employee needs and behaviours, and enable communications teams to improve the effectiveness of communications.

AI can help to identify new opportunities for collaboration

AI can be used to help identify opportunities to develop new connections across teams, to support common purposes. This, in turn, will help to improve and develop collaboration and co-operation. AI is all about collective intelligence, and it is both a partner and an enabler. Sharing information can also highlight additional opportunities to teams themselves.

The most important factor enabling the use of AI is trust

Ultimately, perhaps the most important factor in the use of AI or any other form of automation is trust. Employees have to trust that the automation or algorithm will do what it is meant to do. In customer-facing processes, for example, they will not act on insights into customer behaviour unless they believe that they are true. In employee communications, trust is perhaps even more crucial. Analysis of employee behaviour and wishes must be used to improve employee experience. It cannot be used as a way of tracking and punishing criticism. Trust is crucial, and once lost, it will not be easily regained.