Talking recruitment with Tenzing

PwC’s chatbot epitomises our expertise with emerging technologies

The challenge

Like many firms today, both within our industry and beyond, PwC struggles to attract the talent we need, especially the younger tech-savvy generation. According to PwC’s 22nd Global CEO survey, 48% of Belgian CEOs are concerned about the lack of availability of key skills.

We not only need to make sure that we have the tools and technologies in house for them to work with once they join us, but we need to start the whole recruitment process from this standpoint. That need is what prompted the birth of Tenzing, our recruitment chatbot. The firm, our audience and the market at large have all been impressed.

Consistent communication across channels

PwC launched an innovative Basecamp recruitment campaign in 2017. The chatbot was designed to embrace the concept of  the "Sherpa attitude", guiding graduates to a top job at PwC. Its aim was to mirror the same way that PwC seeks to work with clients; listening to their needs and supporting them every step of the way to meet their objectives, from Strategy through Execution.

"Adopting the firm’s overall go-to-market strategy and look and feel for our graduate recruitment efforts made sure we were portraying a consistent message to the market in all the media we use," explains Gregory Renier, Online Communications Manager at PwC.

Why the name Tenzing? "The best chatbots positively differentiate their brand through the way they look and speak, and the values they embody. To achieve this, our bot needed a face, an attitude and a name. Tenzing Norgay was the Sherpa of Edmund Hillary. They were the first two individuals known to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953," Gregory Renier explains.

Tenzing asking: "Hey, got any questions about working at PwC?"

Treading carefully with chatbots

But not everyone within the firm was comfortable with the idea of a bot to interact with students.

"There was some concern that people wouldn’t want to interact with a machine or would be turned off by the lack of human interaction. We were very careful with Tenzing to make sure that users knew from the outset that they were engaging with an automated bot. Obviously, it was an experiment for us all, but one that has clearly paid off. When designing bots like Tenzing, it’s crucial to bear such concerns in mind. Chatbots aren’t panacea for every situation," explains Jens Devloo, a PwC chatbot expert.




"The best chatbots positively differentiate their brand through the way they look and speak, and the values they embody."

Gregory RenierOnline Communications Manager at PwC



Making the most of Messenger

The chatbot was designed using DialogFlow, a Google framework, and embedded on Facebook’s popular Messenger service. Facebook is PwC’s most-used social media channel to engage with young graduates so it made most sense to host it in this way.

Also, the new joiners with whom we first tested early iterations of Tenzing identified Facebook as the ideal platform for such a bot.

Fine-tuning Tenzing’s functionality

The variety of actions users can undertake with the bot facilitates deeper engagement between PwC and young people, albeit with a sole focus on recruitment. "Via Tenzing, users can find the answers to more than 80 frequently asked questions (FAQs) about working or getting a job with PwC. Tenzing also offers professional advice, such as how to perform well in personal interviews and display the right attitude, etc., depending on the user’s input. It can even engage in small talk. Tenzing also provides details of recruitment events that the user may like to attend," notes Jens Devloo.

Importantly, Tenzing allows graduates to upload their curriculum vitae (CV) and encourages them to do so by inviting them to take part in a competition to win a trip to a different, attractive location each year. "We’ve a whole host of additional use cases in mind, but are only introducing those for which we feel there’s a real need or based on user demand. We consider all feedback to make sure we’re developing a truly valuable bot solution," Jens Devloo adds.

Example of Tenzing recruitment ad for student trip to London

Exceeding all expectations

In sync with the networked digital lives of PwC’s target recruitment group and its active nature, PwC was able to not just reach, but engage with, many more young graduates than hoped for.

“Our objective was to engage in 300 chats within the first six months. Tenzing proved immensely popular and we actually more than tripled our aim with more than 2,000 chats taking place in the half-year timeframe. To date, since its launch and upgrade (see below), Tenzing has engaged in over 4000 chats. "Given that PwC seeks to hire around 300 juniors each year, our ability to interact with such a large part of our target audience means Tenzing’s making a substantial and important contribution to our recruitment efforts," Gregory Renier says.  

That contribution has been recognised by CUSTO, acc's expert Content Marketing centre that bestowed a BOCA (Best of Content) award on the Tenzing campaign in the category "Highest Conversion Response".

Taking Tenzing to the next level

Building on Tenzing’s success, the bot’s since been upgraded with a brand new look and additional functionalities. Tenzing 2.0’s design has been brought in line with the style of PwC’s most recent recruitment campaign. The bot now sports a "smarter" look that further dramatises PwC's digital innovation agility. With the bot running on a Google framework, it was also easy for the team to evolve it from Dialogflow to Google Assistant, making Tenzing a voice-activated bot.

However, Gregory Renier explains, "we had to downgrade the chat version to adapt for voice activation and given our ambitions and how the bot’s used, it didn’t really make sense. So while, exploring the possibility of making Tenzing voice-activated was interesting, we believe it’s more performant as is."

Tenzing Sherpa, Chatbot messenger, giving you a thumbs up

A true centre of excellence for chatbots

Tenzing’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed within the PwC Network and further afield; not only have other PwC firms expressed interest in having chatbots for various applications, but clients and prospects have also been in touch with our Experience Centre, the hub where we explore chatbot technology for different purposes and design and deliver solutions where the technology could add real value.  

Contact us

Floris Ampe

Floris Ampe

Partner, Digital Services & Innovation Leader, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 477 61 79 91

Xavier Verhaeghe

Xavier Verhaeghe

Partner, Technology Consulting, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 49 559 0840

Follow PwC Belgium