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These Chatbots Are Helping Brands Respond to Covid-19 Queries

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Healthcare organizations aren’t the only businesses being inundated during the coronavirus pandemic. Across the globe, companies in virtually every industry—and especially banks, hotels, and retailers—are struggling to find ways to communicate with customers while their physical locations are closed to the public. Call centers are getting slammed, and hold times at some banks are reaching 10 hours or longer.

Chatbots could help fill the gap. Although there will always be a need for human customer service agents, even when chatbots with AI are deployed, the coronavirus outbreak is demonstrating just how valuable this automated technology can be for brands working in a time of crisis. Already, chatbot companies like LivePerson say they’re seeing significant increases in volume on their platforms. As the pandemic widens, even more companies are likely to start integrating chatbots into their customer service systems.

Here are six chatbot solutions that brands can start using right away.

1. LivePerson
LivePerson is known for its conversational commerce software. LivePerson’s platform is powered by AI, which means customers can have virtual conversations with a brand without any actual human interaction. By LivePerson’s estimates, 70% of consumer inquires can be automated with its technology. These conversations can take place across a huge number of digital channels, including SMS, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. Brands can also integrate LivePerson’s software into their own websites and mobile apps. LivePerson’s conversational platform is used by more than 18,000 brands, including Virgin Atlantic and IBM.

2. Microsoft Azure
Large companies and healthcare organizations can use Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services to build enterprise-grade bots that can speak, listen, and understand people. During the Covid-19 crisis, some hospital systems have already started using Microsoft’s technology to automatically answer questions from people about the symptoms of coronavirus and screen patients virtually before inviting them to come for in-person evaluations. Microsoft’s platform includes open-source SDK, and it lets businesses maintain control of their data, including the bots they develop.

3. Directly
Specializing in “intelligent automation,” Directly uses technology to automatically determine which customer queries should be handled by subject matter experts, so businesses can deliver better service at scale. The company offers critical infrastructure to make all virtual agents work with five API calls to its platform. Directly integrates into a number of messaging applications, as well as virtual agents, machine learning platforms, and CRM platforms. In addition to its conversational features, Directly uses daily trained machine learning models to identify new opportunities for automation, so companies can gradually increase the number of issues their chatbots can handle. Directly works with brands like Airbnb, Samsung, and Microsoft.

4. Cobot-19
Cobot-19 is a chatbot developed by the customer support and engagement automation platform Verloop and the healthcare start-up Portea Medical. It was designed to help people access information about Covid-19, relying on data gathered from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Johns Hopkins University. It operates via WhatsApp. When users message the chatbot in WhatsApp, they’re greeted with a welcome message and asked to choose from available options depending on the information they need. Other organizations could use this same technology to develop their similar chatbots, for this outbreak and others in the future.

5. Bold360
Like others on this list, Bold360 combines advanced AI chatbots with live agents. The company’s web chatbots utilize Natural Language Understanding, so it’s possible to have real conversations with a brand’s customers regardless of the venue. When brands are overwhelmed by customer service inquiries, such as in times of crisis, Bold360 can help them process more conversations and answer more questions in a virtually setting. Bold360 says it delivers consistent AI-powered experiences across chat, email, social, and SMS.

6. Quiq
Although Quiq is generally thought of as a business SMS text messaging solution, the company has quickly adapted during this time of crisis, and it offers chatbot and work from home solutions for all types of businesses. With the company’s business messaging chatbot solution, brands can design conversational experiences based on the questions their customers are asking in real-time. The platform manages conversation lifecycle and passes context and custom metadata between each human and bot that’s involved in an interaction. Businesses can setup chatbots to virtually greet customers, troubleshoot real-time issues, and collect feedback from customers, so human employees aren’t interacting with the public in a face-to-face setting.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.