Better public services with chatbots

Many services which government call centers now handle could benefit from chatbot support. Some of these areas are:

  • General information. Queries about locations, hours, and deadlines make up a large portion of call center activity. Chatbots can provide this type of information without making people wait. The users retain the text of the response for subsequent reference.
  • Contact information.Finding the correct person responsible for a certain aspect of the administration can be time-consuming for the front desk. Official titles do not always carry adequate information which department, or which person, is responsible for the topic at hand. Luckily, chatbots can help to find the correct department, or person, from a large knowledge base.
  • Document search.Public services create a large amount of documentation and finding the latest ones can be difficult. Search engines can help find the most relevant documents based on the keywords, but chatbots can help further filter and find the correct documents.
  • Road conditions. Information on construction sites, accidents, potholes, and closed roads is a subject of many queries. The bot’s information base needs regular updating to be useful. Bots can let people report road hazards as well ask asking about them.
  • Emergency information. Emergencies overwhelm call centers, resulting in long waits when people can least afford them. A chatbot can handle surges in requests more easily, and agencies can keep it updated with current data.
  • Legal information. Chatbots can answer simple legal questions, such as ones about parking regulations and building codes. This is an area that requires caution since laws are often complicated and the government could be held liable for providing inaccurate responses.
  • School information. Parents always have questions about public schools, such as policies and lunch menus. A chatbot can reduce the burden on the office staff.
  • Library information. Public libraries are repositories of information, and a bot that can direct people’s searches is a natural extension of the library’s mission.
  • Internal services. Government employees can query chatbots with questions about their work, including IT questions. They can ask about procedures, offices to direct people to, and closings.

A bot can be designed to provide general information on behalf of a local, county, or state government, or it can be specific to an agency, such as a road department or a public library. Agency-specific bots are less ambitious, and developing a bot for one agency may have better odds of success than one that tries to cover a broad range.

Most government employees in offices work normal daytime hours, and 24-hour staffing is difficult. Chatbots are available all day and night.

All public service chatbots need to provide contact information in the event that they can’t provide satisfactory answers.

Related: Chatbots and Conversational UI for Futuristic Service and Conversational Search