In her recent newsletter, Marie Haynes referred to some of the advances being made in ‘natural language processing’, mentioning Google’s new algorithm SMITH, which can “allow algorithms to analyse much larger chunks of text than BERT can” (although Google insisted they were not replacing BERT with SMITH).
But what is Natural Language Processing, or NLP, as it’s also known? Ultimately, it’s a form of Artificial Intelligence that uses machine learning technology to analyse the interaction between humans and computers by deciphering the data from natural language. Its main objective is to interpret the human language so that it can uncover useful insights from unstructured data.
A prime example of NLP is smart assistants – like Amazon’s Alexa – which are programmed to provide informative responses to our queries. It can also be used in translation applications like Google Translate or Word Processors such as Grammarly.
So, the big question is how can you utilise NLP for your business?
Enhanced Recruitment Process
Hiring the right people for your business is a task that’s easier said than done. You’ll need to sift through countless CVs to find that needle-in-the-haystack candidate that – on paper – is perfect for the job, and even after you find them, there’s the chance that they are not as suited to the role as you first thought. Not only is this whole ordeal time-consuming, but it takes your attention away from other more pressing business matters.
NLP can do all the hard work for you, analysing CVs and screening your candidates to see who possesses the right skills for the job. According to Manatal, “NLP technology analyzes the resume and is able to extract details that pertain directly to the applicant’s value as a candidate for a specific job. It’s able to understand and extract data such as previous employment title and employer details, specific skills, and spoken languages, and is even capable of understanding the nationality and origins of the candidate in question.”
One of the biggest benefits of using NLP for the recruitment process – aside from it being time-saving – is that it removes human emotion from the equation, meaning that there is no subconscious bias when it comes to selecting the right candidate, as the results are purely data-based.
Faster Customer Service
Chatbots are another great example of how NLP can improve your business’ customer service.
Did you know that chatbots can cut operational costs by up to 30%? Or that 50% of businesses plan to spend more on chatbots than on mobile apps?
The reason for chatbots’ popularity is that they are an efficient method of responding to customer enquiries. Chatbots use NLP to help answer your customer’s questions quickly and efficiently, so even if your staff can’t immediately reply, you can be confident that your customers are still receiving attention. Chatbots use predefined answers, so customers won’t lose patience and click off your site when they don’t find a human to talk to. By using chatbots, you can reduce the number of visitors who click off your site and are more likely to convert them into customers.
There are 3 types of chatbots you can utilise for your business:
Support chatbots: These are created for a single domain with built-in knowledge about your business. They are primarily for FAQ-based queries.
Skills chatbots: These bots don’t need a lot of contextual knowledge and have set commands.
Assistant chatbots: The most popular type, assistant chatbots are more conversational and have a wider knowledge of various topics.
Higher Employee Satisfaction
It isn’t just your customers who will appreciate NLP in your business, as it can also incentivise your employees. Using NLP can help your team by responding to customer queries, regulating comments, serving as customer support, checking emails for spam and scanning for keywords in content. According to a Forbes article, 84% of small companies still use some type of manual process every day, and this is time-consuming for employees who could be using their skills elsewhere.
Because NLP uses text analytics, it can identify key areas in your business where your employees may be struggling or are overworked. This allows you to gain a deeper insight into how your business is performing, and by addressing these findings, you can make suitable changes as and when needed.
According to Analytics In HR, NLP is expected to become more mainstream in HR departments going forward; “HR is the prime candidate for adoption of NLP-based technologies, as HR is inherently people-centric and communication based. HR business processes thus generate vast amounts of natural language data. This presents an opportunity for HR. It will also enable HR to have greater intelligence and leverage within the organization.”
Better Site SEO
NLP can help your business to rank higher in the SERPs by better understanding the human language and phrasing in your site’s content. Instead of relying solely on keywords, your site can use more conversational language that isn’t overly stuffed with keywords (something which Google will pick up on). This makes content look less spammy and will improve your site’s domain authority, as well as deterring Black Hat SEO techniques.
Sites can also benefit from ‘content categorisation’ which means that Google will be able to understand your business niche from your content; so, if your content is about solar energy, for example.
At the end of the day, NLP is a free tool and is based on the technology that Google uses in search algorithms – it’s not going to require a large investment; however, it can hugely benefit your business. If you’re looking to save time, money and streamline processes in your business, then it is worth looking into NLP.