Many states polled in 2019 were looking for the right business case for chatbots, and found it with the surge in questions and online forms filled when the lockdown hit.
To assist in answering unemployment and COVID-related questions, three-quarters of states in the U.S. have deployed chatbots, according to NASCIO.
Chatbots are certainly not new, online businesses of all shapes and sizes have embedded them into their online customer service, but public services tend to adopt technology slowly.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced states to move quicker. NASCIO said many of the states polled in 2019 were looking for the “right business case” for chatbots, and found it with the surge in questions and online forms filled when lockdown hit.
Over 45 million Americans filed for unemployment, during the coronavirus outbreak. For the average unemployment insurance agent, it meant far more time spent answering questions and less time processing claims.
According to NASCIO, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) received three and a half years of claims in a single day on April 2. To help the agents, TWC added Larry, a chatbot, to their website, which has answered 4.8 million questions from 1.2 million people.
Larry was built in four days, an unprecedented speed for a state department. It was built by Accenture and uses AWS cloud and RPA services.
Missouri also managed to have a chatbot up and running in a week, and believes it will be able to deploy future chatbots in less than 24 hours.
“When a once-in-100-year pandemic hits, naturally citizens are going to have questions. With information and misinformation spreading on social media, changing science and guidelines, and general anxiety, having a central place to go for accurate information is critical,” said NASCIO in a whitepaper.
While it’s not clear if we will see a wholesale digital transformation of many public services, a few of the organizations who spoke to NASCIO said they would add more chatbots, as the need arises.