chatbots for government

Can Governments Use Chatbots to Automate Online Services?

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When you think of government services, long lines and towering piles of paperwork come to mind. Common citizens find it a waste of their time and energy to run to public offices and get their work done. Even with a competent government as is in Singapore, government services need a little upgrading.

To ensure maximum citizen engagement, it is important to ensure public services are easily accessible and interactive. Traditional services are expensive to deploy and unavailable at all times. This creates the need to use a more advanced medium for public service.

Singapore is taking measures to connect better with its people. Intelligent software programs (chatbots) and apps are being developed, thanks to the rise of mobile app development in Singapore. These programs aim to bridge the gap between citizens and government and open channels of communication between them.

The government of Singapore has partnered with Microsoft to make its online services accessible to citizens. Microsoft’s “conversations-as-a-platform” concept is being tapped to integrate chatbots into computing systems, apps, and services. The concept is based on the prediction that people will converse more with computers resulting in a radical shift in online interactions.

This move will be implemented in three phases.

Phase 1: Chatbots will answer queries of citizens by referencing a vast database of information.

Phase 2: Chatbots will help users perform simple tasks and online transactions on government websites such as filling a form or uploading documents.

Phase 3: Given that citizens will be more comfortable using these services by then, the chatbots can answer more personalized questions and resolve their issues immediately.

Using chatbots in government services has four major benefits.

  1. Personal experience – Chatbots are programs that are capable of having a human-like conversation with you. Rather than being subjected to a robotic voice or message, you are able to communicate more personally with a chatbot.
  2. Experience government – You don’t have to physically visit a government building to change your name, pay your fines or apply for a service. Everything is available through a mobile application. If you face any difficulty in any of the services, you can always engage a chatbot to solve it for you.
  3. Engagement – Chatbots are not merely used to help with online services, they also provide news and information on what the government is up to. You can share feedback, ask questions, track the progress of any work being done, and stay up-to-date on new policies being implemented.
  4. Seamless customer service – Traditional forms of service lack the efficiency needed for a positive customer experience. Chatbots are programmed to answer every type of query put forth by citizens. Hence, they are able to perform tasks efficiently. For example, chatbots can quickly route calls to the correct department in case you dial an incorrect number or they can provide information on whom to contact for a specific task.

As more and more government services go online, the number of people using these services will also rise. Traditional forms of services will become obsolete owing to the sheer number of people using these services. It will become difficult to answer each and every query. Hence, chatbots can fill the void of a human interaction and serve its purpose faultlessly.

Chatbots are still in their infancy. Their use is limited to textual communication for now. With advances in technology and artificial intelligence, they may move on to a more complex voice-based interface. The rapid growth of mobile app development in Singapore has enabled the government to think of innovative ways to reach out to its citizens and provide satisfactory online services. Singapore already has a number of professional mobile app developers and mobile app development companies, so, it’s just a matter of time before the country will see a number of innovative apps and bots that can perform complex functions accurately and efficiently.

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