Thursday, 09 April 2020 12:47

COVID-19: Google Cloud launches virtual agent support program Featured

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Google Cloud has launched a virtual agent support program designed to help healthcare, public health, and non-profit industries quickly build and deploy chatbots that can help serve their customers who are looking for information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Google Cloud, as COVID-19 has spread globally, people are turning to governments, healthcare organisations, and other businesses with questions about their health and wellness, finances, and more - and this sudden, unprecedented demand is putting strain on customer support resources, and many organisations are “telling us that they’re struggling to respond to customers effectively during this critical time”.

“If your organisation is facing these challenges, you can respond to your customers’ questions related to COVID-19 and your business with Contact Center AI, which can provide a first line of response through 24/7 conversational self-service support via chat or over the phone, says Google.

“As speed is especially important, we’ve launched the Rapid Response Virtual Agent program, a quick way to get up and running with Contact Center AI.

“To learn how to launch a virtual agent (chat or voice) check out the documentation. It includes information on how to integrate Dialogflow Messenger, which provides a customizable chat dialog for your agent that can be embedded in your website so you can easily deploy your chatbot on the web and make it engaging with rich UI support.

“We’ve also made it easier to add COVID-19 content to your virtual agent with the ability to integrate open-source templates from organizations that have already launched similar initiatives.

“For example, Verily, in partnership with Google Cloud, has launched the Pathfinder virtual agent template for health systems and hospitals. It enables you to create chat or voice bots that answer questions about COVID-19 symptoms and provide the latest guidance from public health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization (WHO).”

Google Cloud says agent program is available around the world in any of the 23 languages supported by Dialogflow, and because time is of the essence, “we will be working with our contact center partners, as well with our various systems integrator and consulting partners, to help ensure these deployments and integrations happen quickly”.

Google Cloud lists its contact centre partners as including:

  • 8x8
  • Avaya
  • Cisco
  • Five9
  • Genesys
  • Mitel
  • Twilio
  • Vonage

And system integrator partners include:

  • Accenture
  • Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Infosys
  • KPMG
  • HCL
  • TCS
  • Wipro
  • Maven Wave
  • QuantiphiSADA
  • SpringML

"The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission has been experiencing unprecedented call volumes (over 60,000 daily) as a result of unemployment claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact Center AI, integrated into the commission’s website, is aiding with call diversion, helping reduce wait times, and providing the commission with an additional channel for addressing unemployment related questions," said David Ostrowe, Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration, Oklahoma State University of Pennsylvania.

Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD, Director, Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE), University of Pennsylvania said:“It’s been an amazing, collaborative effort getting this quickly created and launched, and we are grateful to the Google Cloud/Verily teams for their efforts. We are seeing a lot of people looking for an authoritative source of information, and being able to scale to meet the demand helps us disseminate accurate information more quickly.

"We will use this both to help answer common questions and to assess symptoms and help with triage to make sure people are routed to the most appropriate clinical intake level.

“As the number of patients with concerns grows, we expect that having an automated and validated way of addressing inquiries will be an important part of ensuring the highest possible quality of response to concerns of different individuals.

“We will route patients with concerning symptoms to confer directly with a member of our clinical team while addressing more routine or lower acuity questions through the bot."


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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