A chatbot for a municipality? Here’s how to build one!

Alexander Wijninga

Alexander Wijninga

| 2 min

The pandemic has forced businesses across industries to make operations digital - and do it even more quickly than they had planned. The typical municipality is no exception. Not only do citizens need to be able to easily submit a request digitally, employees need to easily complete their work digitally (source). We’re seeing more municipalities go digital, especially as it pertains to customer service and contact with citizens. This blog explains how municipalities can use a chatbot.

Make customer contact digital

You know it all too well - a phone number where you always end up on hold. Citizens want to make appointments, get information or submit requests and they’re used to doing it over the phone since there aren’t any other options. What if you could reduce the volume of phone calls and digitise customer contact? A chatbot can be used to answer the most frequently asked questions that often come in on the phone. Make an inventory of the questions that are asked most often, and teach these to the chatbot. When you use a chatbot that’s powered by AI, the chatbot interprets the intent of the question and consistently learns and improves.

Automate tasks

You can also use a chatbot to automate manual tasks. Public officials can save lots of time they’d typically spend completing routine tasks. Think of the example of requesting a new driver’s licence. The chatbot can gather the citizen’s information, save these details in the CRM system and submit the request to the appropriate system. The employee doesn’t need to manually collect and enter the details, and thus has time to spend on more complex projects.

Personal approach to service

We can imagine that you might be pessimistic about the terms “digitalisation” and “automation” because you want to make sure there’s still a personal approach to providing service.  “A chatbot isn’t personal” happens to be one of the biggest untrue rumours about chatbots. We’ll explain how you can keep contact with citizens personal but make interactions digital.

The Watermelon chatbot works with 360-degree profiles. This means that all contact details and conversation history is saved in a database - think of this as the “brain” of the chatbot. The chatbot sees the citizen as an individual, not just a number. The chatbot recognises the customer, greets him by name and helps him even more quickly. Integrate your chatbot with your CRM system so the chatbot always has the latest data to reference in conversations.

Examples of chatbots for municipalities

Curious how to put what you just learned about chatbots into practice? One of our clients is the municipality of Veenendaal, Gemeente Veenendaal. They use a Watermelon chatbot to provision information and to collect and submit requests. Chatbot Bo knows everything about what days garbage is collected, how to provide specific documents to citizens, or gather information about a neighbourhood disturbance. Bo is a success: 95% of all online conversations are completely handled by the chatbot. This means only 5% of conversations require a human agent.

Want to learn more?

Want to see how companies are using chatbots to improve customer service? Curious how this might work for your business? Plan a one-on-one demo with a colleague from the Watermelon team!

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