AWS Public Sector Blog

4 ways conversational AI and Amazon Lex help the public sector transform customer engagement

Customer engagement is evolving. Users want to ask and get answers to questions, learn about topics, complete tasks, and communicate via their preferred channel and at the time that is convenient for them. At the same time, public sector organizations are realizing that they need to innovate the way they support and engage their employees, users, and communities. They want to make information easier to access, improve user experience and engagement, expand their reach by supporting multiple communication channels, and improve efficiency and scalability through intelligent automation. Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots can be used to transform the customer experience, enhance engagement, improve services, and help scale more simply. What can conversational AI and chatbots help public sector organizations do?

1. Make access to information easier

With the increasing amount of information on websites, it can be challenging to quickly find the specific information that users are looking for. Conversational AI solutions like Amazon Lex, the Amazon Web Services (AWS) offering with built-in natural language understanding (NLU) and automatic speech recognition (ASR) for designing conversational interfaces using voice and text, can provide users with a simpler and more natural way to ask for information.

With a few questions, the chatbot built by the Public Services Health & Safety Association in Ontario can guide the conversation and help find things like the schedule of a safety training or up-to-date information on COVID-19 workplace safety. In healthcare, the Health Innovation Campus at Lancaster University uses Amazon Lex to help answer frequently asked questions around breast screening through social media.

Organizations can build a chatbot solution from scratch using Amazon Lex or use a pre-built question-and-answer chatbot solution from AWS called QnABot, which uses Amazon Lex and Amazon Alexa. Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City built their chatbot solution using QnABot to expand their ability to serve their students. They integrated it with Amazon Kendra, the AWS enterprise search engine service, to scale the chatbot’s knowledge and ability to extract answers from a variety of additional data sources.

2. Improve user experience and engagement

Organizations can also use conversational AI to tackle business problems in an unconventional way, and to spark innovation and engage their users in unexpected ways. Students can “talk to” a voice-activated replica of NASA’s Mars Rover; a citizen of the City of John Creek in Georgia can ask Alexa for park hours or information about their taxes from their living room; a prospective Heart Walk participant with the American Heart Association can use their natural voice to easily register through; and patients can get tailored education and support for managing brain health with UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.

ROYBI, a startup dedicated to reinventing early-childhood education, is completely rethinking how to address speech disorders and encourage children to talk more. Their solution combines conversational AI and robotics to create an engaging, fun, and interactive learning experience for kids.

Other organizations such as Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City are combining Amazon Lex with other AWS AI services like Amazon Comprehend, a natural-language processing (NLP) service, to gain insight into which questions the chatbot couldn’t answer. The solution resulted in doubling the number of conversations with students and an increase in the overall engagement from their student body.

By using Amazon Lex, Amazon Comprehend, and Amazon Transcribe, a speech-to-text conversion service, Streetlives, a nonprofit in New York City, creates a more inclusive platform for people with low literacy by enabling them to describe their circumstances in their own words instead of going through a rigid and structured series of online forms.

3. Expand reach by using multiple communication channels

Having a chat window on your website is a good start, but is not enough. You want to meet customers where they are and enable them to engage you through their platform of choice. Health Innovation Campus at Lancaster University increased attendance of vital breast screening appointments by 13 percent by deploying their Amazon Lex chatbot solution on Facebook Messenger. The City of John Creek used Alexa as a mechanism to give its residents another way to access answers to commonly asked questions. ROYBI integrated Amazon Lex into their educational robot, and MetroPlusHealth built an SMS chatbot using Amazon Lex and Amazon Pinpoint.

Customers are also looking to provide a voice interface for their conversational AI solution by integrating it with their call center. This type of integration enables organizations to build voice-based conversational bots that can handle user queries over the phone. This solution can help reduce call volumes by automating the response to common questions and requests. It can also drive intelligent routing by filtering calls. AWS provides this type of integration out-of-the-box between Amazon Lex and Amazon Connect, the AWS cloud-based contact center solution.

4. Scale through intelligent automation

By logging answers to frequently asked questions, automating commonly requested actions, and integrating them with conversational AI solutions, public sector organizations can reduce wait times, decrease abandonment rates in call centers, and increase their ability to scale and handle a higher volume of requests through text or voice.

For the Department of Workforce in West Virginia, their chatbot solution allowed them to scale their ability to support the spike in the volume of unemployment insurance requests during the COVID-19 pandemic. This solution supported them to automatically resolve 90 percent of the calls and freeing the customer support team to focus on high priority requests. For the City of John’s Creek, their solution helped transfer 60 percent of incoming calls to the appropriate departments, cutting the city hall receptionist’s call volume by more than half.

Learn more

We challenge you to think how you can make information more accessible, increase your user engagement, expand your communication channels, and scale your ability to handle an increasing volume of requests through conversational AI. Get started here.

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