Digital challenges of national governments
Governments in the entire world face many digital challenges. Accessibility of information and e-services are on the very top of this list as receiving information instantly has become the “new normal”. Furthermore, there are fewer communication channels as no one wants to wait in line or meet someone in person during the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, there are numerous similar, repetitive requests concerning various subjects that require many hours of customer support time. The list goes on, and governmental bodies must adapt to these challenges and make the public information and e-services accessible and easy to use for all of their customers.
Availability of technologies and tools to smaller language communities that face long-term risks of digital extinction should be also taken into account. Thus, technological empowerment is the solution to maintain a strong voice and support a particular language in the digital age.
Solution – e-Gov platform for chat-bot development
AI-powered chat-bots in the public service can help in solving the above problems. The chat-bot development tool is the most recent addition to the national language technology platform Hugo.lv developed by the language technology company Tilde in close cooperation with the Culture Information Systems Centre (KISC) and Microsoft Latvia.
Hugo.lv offers machine translation and terminology services, speech recognition and synthesis integration, as well as the environment for development of conversational AI agents customized to the Latvian language. All of the above makes it an excellent solution not only for customers in the European Union, but also elsewhere.
A single platform for chat-bot development is available for all governmental bodies and serves as a home for the Latvian public virtual agents. These AI employees that never tire serve multiple governmental bodies and support thousands of customers 24/7 by offering advice and information on a wide range of topics. Most public sector chat-bots in Latvia serve as an alternative communication channel and a self-service tool for visitors to receive answers to the FAQ, and navigate the governmental bureaucracy. These chat-bots also serve as a bridge between the government and the public.
Benefits to citizens
Smart virtual agents improve user experience by facilitating easier use of e-services and ensuring information accessibility. As smart chat-bots can quickly access public data, they can provide instant answers to many questions at any time, on any channel, in any device and also in almost any language.
AI-powered natural language processing and understanding algorithms used to train the bots to allow them to process freely formulated text inputs and respond in natural language make this human-machine communication intuitive, natural, and human-like. Visitors can save time and avoid frustration, as they do not need to search for the right person or public agency or wait in a queue outside a public office or on the phone – a virtual assistant is always there and always ready to help.
The virtual assistant of the Latvian Rural Support Service Ieva has changed the way complex topics are explained to customers
The number of complaints about information accessibility at the Bank of Latvia has decreased after the introduction of the virtual assistant that has allowed to improve the public image of this national financial institution
The Latvian State Radio and Television Centre appreciates the fact that customers always receive correct and accurate information and that whatever is taught to their chat-bot Signe will never be forgotten or misinterpreted
Benefits to customer service employees
Being a part and parcel of an advanced workplace ecosystem, intelligent chat-bots are a valuable addition to advanced e-Gov services and can help in saving thousands of customer service man hours as they can effectively handle a large number of user queries.
The Latvian State Radio and Television Centre is a good example – their chat-bot Signe takes care of more than 25% of all incoming customer support and other inquiries freeing up more than one human operator. Signe’s contribution became especially noticeable when the global pandemic broke out, and the number of customer queries increased 3-4 times compared to the pre-pandemic levels.Emerging Conversational AI technology also creates new career and self-realization opportunities, and even new professions e.g. a Chatbot trainer or Chatbot Dialogue designer:
"New technologies allow you to re-skill, add new skills and expand your role. I have improved my public speaking and management skills and have become really interested in technologies since I became a bot trainer,
The Bank of Latvia also uses its virtual assistants as a well-organised knowledge base that is particularly useful during the on-boarding of new employees
The conversational agent of the State Revenue Service Toms also serves as a valuable source of customer analytics data as it helps in collecting data on questions that are the most topical for customers, the most common problems they face, and the topics that need to be explained in more detail via other communication channels
Benefits to companies
The governmental chat-bots also help businesses with e-Gov virtual services, i.e. registering a company, signing documents with a secure electronic signature and even filling in and submitting tax returns.
"Introduction of conversational AI solutions facilitates transition from e-Gov to i-Gov when smart virtual agents not only help their business users in finding information and answering questions, but also in enabling further action by other public e-services as a part of the same conversation with the bot,"
The number of public chat-bots on the rise
In 2020, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemics and the increasing public acceptance of AI powered solutions, we witnessed a steep increase in the popularity of chat-bots in various public bodies: at the beginning of the year 3 new chat-bots joined the team, and currently an army of more than 10 virtual agents serve more than 2,000 customers on daily basis and help public users with more than 6,100 topics. Almost 40 public bodies have incorporated conversational agents into their websites to provide consistent, well-structured, and easily accessible support 24/7.
"An important and unique project was implemented in the public administration of Latvia – an innovative and modern communication channel with citizens was created in cooperation with the language technology company Tilde. It was made possible thanks to the support of the European Union, and managed by the Culture Information Systems Centre. It supports our society, but also is a technological challenge that makes people adopt new habits and aims to instil a more resource efficient thinking," claims Jānis Ziediņš, the Project Manager of Culture Information Systems Centre
What’s next for public virtual servants in Latvia
There is a growing trend to introduce smart chat-bots or voice bots featuring various technologies and diverse functionalities that allow to develop interactions with users far beyond simple question and answer scenarios. When the growing family of Latvian public chat-bots gets its voice, many new opportunities to make them much more popular in communication with customers will become available. Virtual assistants will be increasing used in the G2C communication to unleash the full potential of conversational AIs.
Book a demo today to see what Tilde’s AI chatbot can do for your business tomorrow.