Chatbots, those popular computerized personal assistants already hard at work answering customers’ questions in the retail, banking, and utilities industries, now are popping up in government to make citizen services more accessible.
Because they incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to answer questions without human intervention, chatbots are perfect for guiding citizens through routine interactions with government agencies, says Franco Amalfi, director of innovation for Oracle Public Sector North America.
Chatbots can help government agencies serve citizens faster and more efficiently, bridging the gap between the large number of citizens seeking information and the limited resources government agencies have to provide help. They can be particularly effective answering questions in large federal agencies that touch nearly every citizen.
“Citizens no longer need to be kept on hold for long periods of time as they wait for a live customer service agent to answer the phone,” Amalfi says. “Chatbots instantly give people the answers they need from their government.” Although most chatbots in government currently communicate via text, the ability to communicate via voice-activated devices such as Amazon’s Alexa is rapidly gaining traction, he says.
“Chatbots today can have highly meaningful and personalized conversations with citizens about complex topics such as tax regulations [and can help them] fill out complex applications for government housing and even convey their opinions in surveys about pressing issues such as public transportation,” adds Dan Kuenzig, Oracle SaaS cloud specialist for CX, public sector.
Amalfi and Kuenzig recently participated in the 10th annual Oracle Federal Forum, discussing the role of AI and virtual assistants in customer service with a panel that included industry expert Marc Mancher, principal at Deloitte Federal. The forum drew 1,800 registrants to Washington DC earlier this month.
Amalfi also describes early-adopter government agencies providing chatbot services in GCN, a newsletter about computer technology, tools, and tactics for government professionals in the public sector.
Citizens want more from their government agencies today, says Amalfi, including real-time access to information, and chatbots and other technology using AI “can give citizens just that—an effective means of communication and increased engagement with governmental agencies in an ever-connected world.”