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Tuesday, 2.03.2021
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

When people talk about "local government," many of them complain too often about slow, ponderous, inaccessible and frustrating bureaucracies that are difficult to work with. That impression is only growing as residents and consumers become more sophisticated about technology, digital commerce and the convenience they provide in other aspects of their lives. Many government agencies at a local and state level are working to reverse this negative impression by adopting technology to improve services and drive efficiencies through automation of common tasks rather than hiring additional government employees.

Providing citizens with easier access to municipal and state services can be difficult and costly, yet the improvement in "living experience" can be dramatic. Smarter city and state government services mean improved responsiveness and higher service levels, leading to a better quality of life and reduced impacts on the environment. The IDC projected that global spending on smart city initiatives would reach nearly $124 billion in 2020, up almost 19% from the year prior.

As government agencies increasingly consider new technology solutions to move citizen services closer to what consumers experience in the private sector, artificial intelligence represents a powerful opportunity for successful change. We see state and municipal agencies are increasingly interested in using AI-powered solutions to improve their service quality while maintaining cost efficiency. Indeed, many are realizing major benefits through the implementation of conversational AI within their service and support functions.

Hiring staff for municipal service call centers can be expensive. Moreover, the longer-term costs go far beyond salaries and pensions and include the ongoing expense of training, educating and updating employees around the policies and knowledge required to deliver quality services and manage service delivery processes.

Using AI-powered virtual agents as a front end to municipal service help desks could be one major opportunity to improve call center responsiveness, control cost and leverage technology ROI. This is particularly true of non-emergency help desks that residents can use in many cities to access information about services, make complaints and report problems and take the load from overburdened 911 emergency lines.

Virtual agents leverage natural language processing, machine learning, knowledge management and other AI capabilities to automate interactions with citizens and the delivery of services. They are able to capture service requests and make access to information and knowledge easier for citizens and government personnel alike. Virtual agents can also handle a wide range of issues without any human intervention. When necessary, they are able to forward requests they can't handle to the appropriate agency and service representative.

Unlike search, where the user must phrase their inquiry to include matching keywords or their request will not find anything or return irrelevant content, an intelligent virtual agent should be aware of the contents of the knowledge base(s) and guide the user conversationally to the best information available. Look for a virtual agent that uses the same natural language processing as the knowledge management system applies to its content so the meaning of the content is used to create the user conversational experience. As content changes in the knowledge base(s), the conversation will be rewritten to ensure the user is guided to current information and exactly what the user needs — no more, no less. Equally important, make sure the virtual agent provides feedback to the knowledge system as users consume knowledge, ensuring content is properly defecting tickets and achieving user-satisfying digital FCR.

As I talked about previously, decision-makers would do well to develop a weighted model to assess where and how a virtual agent can do the most good in addressing user needs and what the costs, benefits and other effects will be.

Unlike chatbots of old that were able to handle only a limited number of questions and requests, a new generation of intelligent, knowledge-capable virtual agents learn through their interactions with callers and have the ability to find and deliver policies, documents and other information in an intuitive question-and-answer conversation with the caller. They can also ascertain when there is conflicting or under-used information — or when information and knowledge in the system are missing and need to be created.

Today's municipal services help desks should consider going beyond basic ticket submissions and rudimentary FAQ experiences. New virtual agents now leverage automation to provide better guidance to the right information. Virtual agents with advanced knowledge functionality can access and deliver a wide range of knowledge artifacts both to citizen callers and people who serve them.

To successfully determine how to integrate AI-powered digital labor into governmental service and support functions, officials need to assess where intelligent, conversational virtual agents can deliver the most value to citizens and businesses as well as the greatest ROI to their organizations.

As I talked about previously, decision-makers would do well to develop a weighted model to assess where and how a virtual agent can do the most good in addressing user needs and what the costs, benefits and other effects will be.

Most local governments will choose an incremental approach to implementation to ensure that residents and support teams realize benefits and ROI quickly. Focusing on common specific use cases — such as handling and routing requests to the right department and support personnel and then expanding to other capabilities like automated services and knowledge and document delivery — can create a practical roadmap that provides increasing value and happier users.

Local governments today are increasingly seeking new technologies that can help them meet the needs of their citizens while maintaining government standards and reigning in tight budgets. The addition of an intelligent virtual agent to municipal services desks can provide more transparency, greater efficiency and improved levels of customer service.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Wai Wong

Quelle/Source: Forbes, 07.01.2021

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