From state and local agencies to the federal government, public institutions are increasingly turning to virtual assistants as they aim to better meet citizens’ digital expectations. Whether consumers are seeking the web page or phone number for the correct court, or trying to better understand how to file for unemployment benefits, they’re looking for interactions that match the experiences they’re having with USAA, Coca-Cola, their bank or their airline.
Nuance Nina, the virtual assistant (variously referred to as an intelligent assistant or chatbot), has been ranked #1 in its field by a variety of analysts and is gaining broad adoption in a variety of verticals. Maturing technology that is achieving acceptance by respected Fortune 100 companies can turn the heads of government CIOs as they “leave no stone unturned” in their search for solutions. They may be looking to improve the citizen experience and lower operating costs through the stellar first contact resolution (FCR) rates that can be achieved by Nina and others, but what may be even more comforting to them is the minimal, manageable risk that deployments like these infer.
Nothing is more reassuring to public entities, however, than peers attaining real, demonstrable success with a capability that they are hoping to leverage. And just as it’s the case when it comes to better beaches, more interesting mammals and smarter travel, the Australians are a leader in digital government. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) wanted to reduce the high volume of call center inquiries and to enhance the self-service offerings currently available to its clients. Because of previous successful collaboration with voice biometrics, the ATO partnered with Nuance for their virtual assistant technology to deliver a contemporary 24/7 self-service support tool named Alex.
Alex delivered. In the first 18 months Alex had over two million conversations, and, as of September 2017, Alex’s FCR rate was 88 percent, exceeding the industry benchmark of 60-65 percent. Moreover, the ATO has achieved a reduction in client red tape (time it takes clients to find the information needed), valued at approximately $9.7 million per annum and Alex has contributed to the 8-10 percent reduction in contact center call volumes. After implementation, the ATO and Nuance began to extend the Alex persona to other interested government agencies to build a “whole of government” approach to self-service.
Thanks, Australia, for providing us with an example of how to make constituents happy and for providing an unmissable landmark to lead the way.