With the aid of Tietoevry Create, KEHA-keskus has elevated customer service to a new level by utilizing the Conversational AI Virtual Assistant service: Customers receive assistance in each case.Visit Tietoervy Create
Head of Customer Service Area, Tietoevry Create
The service provided by Virtual Assistants – that is what KEHA-keskus, the national development and administration centre for Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, hereafter ELY centres, and Employment and Economic Development Offices, hereupon TE offices, sought to develop when they reached out to Tietoevry Create.
The challenge faced by KEHA-keskus was twofold. It was difficult for customers to find information as the information was siloed into six separated and specialized chatbots covering different topics. Information in the existing chatbots was overlapping, which caused confusion among the users.
The organisation's challenge was the dispersion of the content of the chatbots on different platforms. They wanted efficient and easy administration for the maintenance.
To overcome these challenges, Tietoevry Create brought its comprehensive know-how and experience in implementing conversational AI Virtual Assistant to the project. Tietoevry and KEHA-keskus have a long history of collaborating on the development of digital services.
At the suggestion of Tietoevry Create, the six existing chatbots were replaced by two new AI-based Virtual Assistants from Boost.ai technology. The first Virtual Assistant serves job seekers in the Job Market Finland online service while the second one interacts with the clients of the ELY centres. These Virtual Assistants provide comprehensive assistance with topics related to essential situations in people’s lives, such as job search and salary issues.
The introduction of new Virtual Assistants started at the end of October 2021. During a fast-paced pilot project, Tietoevry Create transferred information from the old chatbots to the new Virtual Assistants and improved the user-friendliness and searchability of the information.
’’The pilot was successful, and it became clear to us that there is a real need for a smarter Virtual Assistant. We needed Tietoevry's know-how to develop it,’’ says Heidi Knuutila, the Project Manager from KEHA-keskus.
Fast service development without coding
The development work continued in early 2022 with the strength of joint teamwork between the IT and content experts from KEHA-keskus, ELY centres and TE offices and the professionals from Tietoevry Create.
Right at the top, Tietoevry Create organised a workshop for ideation and innovation, bringing the team together to discuss plans for the vision and future development measures and of the Virtual Assistants. The team then focused on improving the Virtual Assistant's conversational abilities by analysing questions asked by the customers, and worked on the answers, provided by the Virtual Assistants, to include essential information presented in a clear and organised manner.
The range of topics was significantly expanded, and images and links were added to the answers, directing customers to other channels in a gentle manner.
Tietoevry's AI Supervisor, Pernilla Rönnberg, emphasizes that people often have a distorted image of Virtual Assistants.
’’Many have the misconception that they are clumsy and incapable of providing helpful answers. However, Virtual Assistants that use Conversational AI and are developed based on customers’ needs can be helpful. KEHA-keskus experts' knowledge of the language used by customers, terms and the tone of the conversation was crucial for success. For example, customers tend to use different words or terms compared to official terminology,’’ says Rönnberg.
When it was time to train the Virtual Assistants’ knowledge and skills, Tietoevry supported KEHA-keskus subject matter experts, also known as AI trainers. The training data was immediately updated in Boost.ai's Virtual Assistant solution, as it is based on a no-code user interface.
'’Compared to traditional software application development, training Virtual Assistants is much faster, as it does not require any technical work or coding skills,’’ emphasizes Rönnberg.
KEHA-keskus produces development and administration services for TE Offices and ELY centres. About 550 KEHA employees work in different parts of Finland, from Kantvik to Salla.
The frequent use of Virtual assistants by the customers of the TE Office and the ELY Centres has reduced the workload of the customer service representatives.
With the help of Tietoevry Create's experts, the subject matter experts of KEHA-keskus were trained to develop and update the no-code-based Virtual Assistant easily and quickly
The goal is to make the Virtual Assistants available in Swedish and English. Development opportunities include networking the Virtual Assistant with other government assistants.
Results: Reduced the workload for customer service staff
The implementation of Virtual Assistants has already achieved clear benefits in a short period of time.
"Customers clearly use the Virtual Assistant with a low threshold. The questions asked by customers provide our AI trainers with information to create new content, enabling the Virtual Assistant to constantly learn and provide better assistance to the next customer," Special Expert Birgit Vepsäläinen from KEHA-keskus emphasizes.
She has monitored the conversations and understands that a Virtual Assistant can assist customers even in difficult situations.
"Based on the conversations between the end-users and the Virtual Assistant, it is clear that it can also handle complex or difficult-to-formulate questions. The Virtual Assistant makes it easy to search and find information and useful to take care of things," says Vepsäläinen.
Rönnberg from Tietoevry Create adds that the Virtual Assistant helps around the clock, even when the customer service is closed. The anonymous nature of the interactions with the Virtual Assistant is also beneficial, as unemployment can be associated with stigma and negative feelings.
"Based on the conversations between the end-users and the Virtual Assistant, it is clear that it can also handle complex or difficult-to-formulate questions. The Virtual Assistant makes it easy to search and find information and useful to take care of things,"
"Public sector pioneer"
In addition to the good results, Knuutila and Rönnberg praise the cooperation.
“Tietoevry’s expertise and support fitted us like a glove – everything has gone so smoothly,” says Project Manager Knuutila and adds:
’’The Tietoevry Create team has acted as our mainstay throughout the project. Thanks to the project, KEHA-keskus has earned the title that we are among the pioneers in the use of Virtual Assistants in the public sector.'’
"This cooperation with KEHA-keskus has been highly rewarding. We have been able to help the customer and thereby the citizens in important matters. The ideation and innovation workshop implemented at the beginning gave plenty of motivation and steps to improve the service. In addition, it has been great to collaborate and exhange ideas with subject matter experts as they grow into professional Virtual Assistant AI trainers!"
Nowadays, the cooperation continues closely with the admin users of the Virtual Assistant. In this way, the effects of legal changes and other updates can be immediately considered in development.
The next goal is to expand the language options so that the customer can interact with the Virtual Assistants in Swedish or English, with the ability to switch the language at any time.
And who knows, maybe in the future these Virtual Assistants serving citizens may be networked with other government Virtual Assistants.
"This cooperation with KEHA-keskus has been highly rewarding. We have been able to help the customer and thereby the citizens in important matters. The ideation and innovation workshop implemented at the beginning gave plenty of motivation and steps to improve the service. In addition, it has been great to collaborate and exchange ideas with subject matter experts.