Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

City of Mesa Employs Aspect Chatbot

December 21, 2016

Mesa, Arizona is a city in the Phoenix/Scottsdale metropolitan area where I live and work.

It’s where the Chicago Cubs play their Spring Training home games, of which I’ve attended many. It has a very nice performing arts center, where I have seen Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt in concert, and enjoyed a presentation by author David Sedaris. Oh, and my parents used to have a little place there as well.

Turns out Mesa is also noteworthy due to its implementation of an Aspect Software automated, text-based consumer engagement solution. The City of Mesa is employing this solution, based on Aspect’s CXP platform, to provide residents with a chatbot with which they can interact to do account management, mobile bill payment, and get faster answers to account and basic service questions relative to their city services.

“Basic text interaction has the potential of becoming the simple and central entry point to the entire customer service organization for the city,” said Joe Gagnon, Aspect chief customer strategy officer, “and we are thrilled to be able to provide the ability to deliver intelligent, automated, interactive text solutions that will help make this a reality.”

More than 71 percent of consumers indicated they want to be able to solve most issues themselves, according to the 2016 Aspect Consumer Index research, and 49 percent said if a company can do it right they would prefer all customer service be conducted via text/messaging.

“Customer service from humans is inherently unpredictable,” added Anthony Pappas, president of brand marketing and customer experience at customer experience strategy and planning company DMI. “Not every company can significantly invest in training and customer service personnel. However, AI provides companies a more scalable and affordable option for customer service – especially in the digital age.”

The desire for self-service and the fact that humans are unpredictable help explain the growing prevalence of chatbots.

The Facebook Messenger Platform has given rise to 30,000 chatbots from various companies that Facebook’s 900 million monthly users can employ to pay for meals and shop online, noted Rajeev Shrivastava, chief strategy officer at cloud contact center software provider inContact, a NICE company. 

Pappas added that the hospitality and travel industries have been doing trials of AI, and both Expedia and airline KLM both have implemented AI-powered chatbots to help with customer service. Meanwhile, DMI has been working with travel distribution company Zumata to integrate natural processing into a chatbot.

Vodafone in Qatar also recently gave life to a bot. Named Hani, and powered by [24]7 technology, it invites website visitors to type in their questions, and it maps those questions to the correct answers, regardless of how the questions are phrased. 

Edited by Alicia Young