Chatbots: It’s not a word you hear often, and you’re probably wondering what they are. They may not be a huge topic in the workplace yet, but it’s good to be prepared for when the conversation starts.

Let’s begin by diving into what a chatbot is. A chatbot is a software system that responds to your messages as if you are talking to someone. This software can be used for several things: sending money to other people, clocking in and out at work and setting up meetings with your co-workers.

Some companies already have embraced chatbots to interact with their customers. For example, on Sephora’s site, you can upload a selfie and the chatbot will respond by putting the best color of lipstick on your selfie. And Facebook has adopted chatbots in a big way, with more than 100,000 bots currently available to users.

Why should internal communicators have chatbots on their radar? Here are three reasons why you should be paying attention.

1)    Most employees have a smartphone, so they are already on a messaging app. Chatbots can be used on your employees’ messaging app – something they already use and are familiar with. This allows for the push notifications to always come through on your phone. “Your employees are spending more time in messaging apps than anything else,” says Chris McGrath, founder of TangoWork, and featured on the EE Voice podcast last month. Plus, employees are more likely to read these messages; research found that 90% of messages sent out by a bot are read in the first three minutes.

Which brings us to number two:

2)    It’s a great way to reach frontline employees. One of the hardest parts of being an internal communicator is finding ways to contact frontline employees. Not only do chatbots make it easier communicating with employees at their desk, but they also make communicating with frontline employees a breeze. This new tool allows communicators to send out the same information to frontline employees as they can to employees that have access to email and the intranet. Also, chatbots give frontline employees the ability to do things like check on their schedule and clock in and out from jobs.

3)    Chatbots support a two-way conversation. Employees can ask the bot questions about their schedule, a summary of a project, what is going on in a certain room at a conference as well as receiving the messages sent out – and the bot also can respond. “Employees are able to type ‘What is my schedule for the day?’ and they’ll receive their schedule as the reply from the bot,” says McGrath.

Here is an example of what it looks like when you ask a bot a question:

(Screenshot courtesy Tangowork Chatbots for Internal Communications. Find original article here.)

Pros and cons of chatbots:

So the next time you hear “chatbot” at work, you can strike up a conversation with your co-worker or boss about what they can bring to your company.