A man in a shirt sitting at the office desk holding a pen and a paper.

Visma’s Payroll Chatbot Solution

Visma Enterprise Denmark has implemented Certainly’s AI chatbot solution to help HR and payroll during peak times.

The chatbot helps customers using their HR and payroll system, as well as Visma’s employees, to speed up their service time and to provide 24/7 support for their users.

Visma’s payroll chatbot proved to be an exceptional move since it:

  • Was built by 1 trainee in 1 month
  • Has over 50% response rate
  • Provides 24/7 assistance for payroll customers
  • Solves 84% of all inquiries without any assistance
  • Is one of the first conversational AI’s within the HR sector

Leading the HR and Payroll Sector with Cunning Business Solutions​

Visma has been providing a variety of businesses with reliable HR solutions for more than 20 years. The company opened its first office in Oslo in 1996.

Visma later made its way as a leading company in the field, providing an extensive list of HR and payroll services to companies all over the world.

With offices across Europe and around 1.000.000 active contracts, Visma’s customer support answers a large number of inquiries every day.

Therefore, maintaining smooth and fast customer service is essential for the company, especially when it comes to their payroll system customers.

As the world of payroll systems is complex and requires ad-hoc integrations, it’s no wonder Jesper Langberg Thomsen, Customer Care Manager at Visma Entreprise Denmark, started looking for a conversational AI solution to ease Visma’s huge workload.

“I was looking for a bot that was complex and had artificial intelligence, but it also had to be an easy-going system. We had to start with a platform that was easy-to-use,”​

says Jesper Langberg Thomsen.

So how can the power of conversational AI solve such an issue? Let’s get to the bottom of it.

A representation of Visma's HR and Payroll solutions on a laptop screen.
Visma has been providing reliable HR and Payroll solutions to a variety of businesses.

Finding the Right Platform to Build an HR and Payroll Chatbot ​

Visma’s Danish branch experiences major peaks in requests throughout the last few days of each year, in correspondence with the closing of the financial year.

Their number of tickets rises by around 30% during this period. Some of these inquiries can be answered within minutes, but others require longer time for appropriate assistance.

We can see that there are peaks around the end of the year that give us much traffic. I tried to look for something that could mitigate the workload we receive and give our customers a faster solution to their problems,”​

explains Jesper Langberg Thomsen.

Visma has a strong, dedicated customer support team, which provides their users with daily support during regular business hours.

However, when there is a large number of tickets coming in throughout the entire day, the team gets overloaded with work, and therefore, waiting time gets longer.

We wanted to have more contact with our customers, because every contact counts. We also wanted to have contact with our customers that gives value to them.

Because all the easy questions, they don’t give any value to the customer, they don’t give any value from us. So why use time on resolving some tasks that give no value. You can just build a bot and focus on all the tasks that actually give value to the customers,”​

adds Jesper Langberg Thomsen.

What was Visma’s solution?

To solve this issue, Visma needed to innovate and become a first mover within the HR SaaS industry. They chose to implement a conversational AI solution that could speed up their support process and improve their efficiency.

They were facing a difficult choice when it came to picking the right product for the job due to the type of platform they desired.

Visma wanted a product that has a fast ideation-to-launch time, something they could customize with their preexisting team without the need for extra IT assistance.

However, they also needed the type of advanced technology that would be able to effortlessly answer complex questions, regardless of grammatical mistakes, and understand the context.

They needed a payroll chatbot that could provide 24/7 smart support, 365 days a year while keeping up and possibly improving their customers’ and employee’s experience.

Infographic of a person shopping online and chatting with a chatbot.
Certainly’s Payroll chatbot offers 24/7 customer support

We were surprised about the time it took to launch the bot. We originally had two people who were supposed to build the bot, but one of them resigned right around the start. So we only had one trainee to build the bot, and it only took her about a month to finish it,”

says Jesper Langberg Thomsen.

When Jesper came across Certainly’s AI chatbot solution, it proved out to be just what they were looking for. An easy-to-use platform with multi-channel integration possibilities that can tackle even the most complicated questions.

Right, so how does one build smart conversational AI for customer support? How does one, specifically, build an HR and Payroll chatbot?

A man in a white shirt smiling at the camera.
Visma Enterprise Denmark is revolutionizing the HR sector by implementing innovative business solutions.

Building an HR and Payroll Chatbot on Certainly

Visma started building the bot at the beginning of October 2019. They initially put 2 employees on the task expecting a somewhat lengthy building process.

Visma’s CTO wasn’t confident that Customer Support could deliver a working AI chatbot on their own and expected that IT would need to jump in.

To add to the uncertainty, one of the two employees tasked with building the payroll chatbot left the company, leaving a single trainee with no IT background to create their AI chatbot.

This could have almost certainly meant a significant delay on any other platform. Yet, after a month, thanks to the simplicity of Certainly’s chatbot builder, the first version of the chatbot was ready. Their chatbot has been live on their website since November 11, 2019.

We have a lot of work to do, so it’s not like we were going to fire people because there is no work left to do. So of course it was a huge help for our Customer Support team, and they were glad to have it.

“On the other hand it also comes with new tasks, it’s not just about deciding who will answer the phone anymore, we also have to decide who will handle the bot and answer the chat,

explains Jesper Langberg Thomsen.

Visma’s HR and Payroll chatbot can guide their users and answer complex payroll system-related inquiries. The chatbot is in Danish, given the fact that Visma’s local customers are all Danish-speaking firms.

The bot is for everyone to use and has built-in integration with Zendesk. It also allows human handover in case the problem is too complicated or unique for the bot to solve.

A horizontal screenshot of Visma mobile app.
Visma’s HR and Payroll chatbot has the potential to serve around one million customers in the future.

A Chatbot as a Helping Hand to Customer Support​

Many people seem to think that implementing a chatbot leads to the company laying off half of the support department. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Although advanced AI makes it possible to automate most of the support process, there’s always a need for humans to manage the bot.

An AI chatbot doesn’t take anyone’s job; it simply transforms the job functions of support employees.

It prevents them from getting overloaded by a large number of simple questions and allows them to focus on issues that require human assistance.

The chatbot turned out to be just what Visma’s support department needed and has been their first line of support since its launch. Their employees love their new payroll chatbot and enjoy the relief it has provided.

Infographic of Certainly's payroll chatbot as a first line of support.

What’s in it for Visma’s Customer Support?

Now, their customer support is running more efficiently than ever.

The only major challenge they have encountered with the payroll chatbot so far is deciding which employee will monitor the bot on any given day, which is a task they are happy to handle.

Some of Visma’s customers haven’t even noticed that they are talking to a bot, which is due to the 3 seconds waiting time that they programmed between messages when the chatbot is writing.

This way, the conversations have a natural feel, and it gives the users the illusion of the “person“ typing on the other end.

Our customers actually think that they are talking to a live person. Because we have built in a 3000 milisecond response time in between answers. So all of our customers think that they are talking to a person. Which is kind of funny. They have no idea that it’s a bot,”

explains Jesper Langberg Thomsen.

Visma’s effortless transition from human-to-human chat to an automated conversational AI chatbot solution is also mainly due to the nature of their bot. Their AI chatbot can emulate the feeling of having a real human conversation.

As Visma trains the AI with more and more information, it can increase accuracy and access to information, and improve its already impressive ticket solving rate.

Robot and human shaking hands.
A modern Customer Service can only truly flourish when Conversational AI works hand-in-hand with a human.

Visma Enterprise HR and Payroll Chatbot: Numbers and Results

Although the new Visma Enterprise payroll chatbot has only been live for a short period of time, it has already proven to be a worthy asset. The bot has shown itself to be a handy tool to keep customers well-informed and satisfied.

If we look at the pure data, we can already see the value that a well-utilized proprietary AI engine can create for a business.

So, what do numbers look like exactly? In less than 4 months from its implementation, from November 11, 2019, to February 29, 2020:

  • Visma Enterprise chatbot has been part of 910 chats, which accounts for over 42% of all chats.
  • 717 chats were solved with the payroll chatbot’s involvement.
  • On 537 occasions, the bot solved the issue in cooperation with a human agent.
  • 84% of chats were independently solved by the chatbot, without human assistance.

According to recent data, in April 2020, Visma’s chatbot response rate was over 50%.

The bot is currently integrated with Certainly’s longtime partner Zendesk. The chats also provide Visma with a lot of useful data, which they use for improving the chatbot.

Improving the AI and consequently, the customer experience, is a goal that Visma works on achieving every day.

Conversational AI is just the first step in Visma’s innovative digitalization strategy. This initiative equipped them with all the necessary knowledge to implement new bots, and truly push the HR sector into a digital future.

A screenshot of Visma's mobile app with a payroll chatbot conversation on.
Visma’s new conversational AI handles many chats a day.

Future plans for the new Visma Enterprise Chatbot and AI Arsenal

The primary purpose of the chatbot was to improve response time and efficiency within Visma Enterprise payroll system support.

However, Visma is a large enterprise, offering a multitude of HR solutions to over 250.000 customers. It would make sense to extend this initiative to other branches of the company, and this is precisely what Visma plans to do.

We want to have it within the payroll system and make it bigger and more complex. So our customers can access it right from our program,”

says Jesper Langberg Thomsen.

They’ve seen the value of using artificial intelligence to enhance customer satisfaction, and they don’t plan on slowing down with their innovative approach to it anytime soon.

It’s just a matter of time that we get to the next step. Which is building a bot into our HR systems, where we have about 250 000 customers. So they can get a better experience with the system, and get a better understanding of how to use it,”

adds Thomsen.

Any other plans of action by Visma?

Their plans also include expanding their list of integrations and making the bot available directly from their payroll system. This way, they can speed up their support process even more. Users can get instant help right when the problem occurs by having a direct entry channel.

Furthermore, Visma wants to extend the bot’s job functions by making it able to assist customers with Denmark‘s new Holiday Law.

They want to establish a channel where their users can get all the necessary information and help with the transition to the new law.

Our next topic that we want to expand the bot with, will be regarding the new Holiday Law. As there is always confusion around new laws, we want to make the transition period smoother for our users,

Jesper Langberg Thomsen points out.

Overall, Thomsen described Visma’s Certainly journey as a smooth and pleasant ride and encouraged other companies to switch to a conversational AI and digitalize their service as much as possible.

I would recommend all companies to start making use of this technology because it is easy to get started and easy to use. This is the future,”

finishes Jesper Langberg Thomsen.

This article is based on the interview between Beatrice Carraro, Head of Marketing at Certainly and Jesper Langberg Thomsen, Customer Care Manager at Visma Enterprise Denmark.

Article written by Adam Rumbach and Beatrice Carraro