You don’t need to be a technology geek to realise that chatbots are changing how organisations across industries do business - including in government.
Not familiar with chatbots? Here’s a quick primer: a chatbot is a digital communication tool that applies artificial intelligence (AI) to engage with stakeholders in a far less robotic and more humanlike way than other digital client engagement tools. They are providing the impetus for the rise of conversation-based commerce, in which people interact with brands through AI-driven chat and messaging.
Let’s consider five ways in which chatbots are transforming government services by making them more efficient, effective, economical and ethical.
1. Reduce the number of face-to-face interactions
Many government services are delivered face-to-face. Stakeholders are required to visit a government shopfront or departmental office to:
Manage vehicle registration
Because chatbots are backed by secure systems and have accurate and very comprehensive data integration, they can manage end-to-end delivery of customer services. This means fewer visits to government centres, more efficient services in rural and remote areas and a more seamless, time-efficient stakeholder experience.
2. Address queries faster
A human can only solve one customer query at a time, but chatbots are capable of interacting with large numbers of people simultaneously. The capacity to provide services for multiple customers concurrently saves time and liberates staff resources for dealing with more complex issues and queries. This means significant efficiency and productivity gains and higher stakeholder satisfaction with government services.
In a recent example, apilot chatbot servic has been answering calls and processing about five percent of requests in the Moscow City Government’s integrated call centre.
The bot’s capabilities include
Informing people about the working time of multifunctional centres in various city district
Providing the address of the nearest centre in relation to a specific metro station or home address
Keeping citizens updated about water or power outage
Data already provided by the bot and questions still to be answered are provided on a screen if the call needs to be put through to an operator, saving time and preventing frustrating repetition.
3. Improve stakeholder engagement
Chatbots have the potential to improve engagement by providing a more individualised and personalised stakeholder experience. By integrating with CRM and customer experience platforms, chatbots have access to a wealth of information about individual customers.
When a user signs into a service or provides login details, chatbots can use data about prior conversations, transaction history and browsing data to tailor its response. Their ability to access, analyse and integrate large data volumes in real-time means customers receive highly personalised service that a human may not be able to match.
Chatbots provide choices for people in how they interact with government. The Singapore Government, for example, hasreleased a chatbot on Facebook Messengerthat lets members of the public find contact details for any civil servant.
Users type in the name or job title of a civil servant and the bot will retrieve the most relevant finding, answering questions and guiding the user through the process. The bot also lets citizens report concerns like dirty streets, or political views on topics such as immigration
Chatbots also make access more equitable and work particularly well for those with accessibility challenges such as reduced mobility, hearing or visual impairment.
4. Provide more consistent and cost effective delivery of basic government services
Chatbots can handle many aspects of government service delivery, from answering questions to processing documentation. This provides government with greater flexibility in the allocation of human resources.
Chatbots invariably provide all stakeholders with consistent and accurate information which reduces resources needed for staff training and the monitoring of the quality of interactions. They enhance privacy and the management of other ethically sensitive considerations such as conflict of interest.
Chatbots also maintain consistent tone, pronunciation and have multilingual capabilities, reducing the need for the resourcing of translation and interpreter services.
5. Receive instant feedback and enhance data collection
Chatbots help government agencies to obtain instant feedback and understand stakeholder perspectives.
Gwinnett County in the Atlanta metro area, for example, usedTextize, an interactive text messaging platform, to engage residents about the future of local transportation and to collect their comments and opinions about improving county transportation services. The county received more than 1,400 survey responses and 2,700 text survey responses in a week, and the data is presented visually to track progress over time.
Chatbots are a powerful tool for accurate and speedy collection of data through surveys and real-time feedback. This opens up new possibilities for data-driven policy formulation, assessment and adjustment.
Chatbots enable stakeholders to engage in intelligent digital conversations with government and to receive highly personalised information that is specifically tailored to their needs and context. They meet all the foundational principles of government service provision through efficiency, efficacy, economy and ethical best practice.