We've all experienced the less than ideal chatbot interaction while visiting a website - the pop-up message that continually gets in the way of what we are trying to read. It doesn't improve the experience. It actually makes it worse.
If this experience is what you imagine when you see the word chatbot, you're not alone.
But it is not the way chatbots should be designed or deployed, and we've designed our new CityLife Chatbot to make sure cities can create the kinds of experiences that improve engagement, reduce barriers and speed up processes.
First, let's re-define what we mean when we say chatbot. Chatbots are software tools used to engage in audible or textual conversations, including those within the growing industry of IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (artificial intelligence).
We've come a long way from those first clunky chatbots on websites. Now we can engage with chatbots through affordable home devices to make purchases, find out information, and manage our own technology simply by saying "Hey Alexa" or "Hey Google".
But chatbots can do so much more than help us with our shopping. They bring a variety of benefits for cities.
Chatbots Reduce ADA Accessibility Barriers
Chatbots actually address some current barriers to technologies - an important benefit for most agencies who are being tasked with making more of their new technologies ADA friendly. What was previously only accessible through a website or mobile app can now be accessible to individuals with accessibility barriers like mobility, language or literacy.
Chatbots Expand Uses of City Data
If your city has invested time and funds to deploy an open data portal or to upgrade software to improve accessibility to your data, it only makes sense to use that same data whenever possible to populate city chatbots. When cities can use the same API in a chatbot that is being used for an existing purpose, it means citizens can trust that they will be able to access reliable, consistent information whether visiting a city's website, mobile app or chatbot.
Chatbots Speed Up Processes, Find Things Faster
Whether an agency deploys a chatbot to sift through mountains of data to quickly or to automate processes, chatbots can often help improve the efficiency of current software systems. And when a chatbot is added to native mobile applications, it makes it easier and faster for users to find the desired process or feature and quickly complete the task at hand, whether it is finding out the arrival time for public transit or exploring resources for entrepreneurs.
City-Wide Chatbots Improve Discoverability, Management
We've spent a lot of time researching and testing today's technologies so that we can help cities quickly upgrade their offerings for citizens without needing to learn how to code or write skills for the growing number of devices on the market today. When a city can deploy a single chatbot which can continue to grow over time, it makes it easier for citizens to know how to engage with you - and for your team to manage your resources. You shouldn't need a new chatbot for every platform, every agency, or every task. If your technology becomes more fragmented over time as you launch new skills or actions, it will become a management nightmare.
If your team is interested in being one of the first to deploy your own city's chatbot using our platform, we have a limited number of spaces open to work with you.
You can learn more about our chatbot technology or reserve a space for your city.
If you have questions, please contact us. We're happy to answer your questions and help you get started.