Just like any digital solution, chatbot solutions are available in varying levels of complexity and customization. Chatbots range from simple decision-tree-based architectures to fully customized conversational AI-powered solutions. And while there are many inexpensive options in the marketplace, you might be wondering why enterprise is investing upfront in a custom chatbot solution.

5 Reasons Enterprises Are Choosing Custom Chatbots

Let’s address the elephant in the room first. Custom chatbots aren’t the cheapest option. To get targeted, use case-specific technology to address a key business need, developers and consultants are going to spend some serious time and effort building you the best solution. But in the long run, even the inexpensive chatbot solutions are going to end up costing money to upgrade, modify or shelf altogether. So getting it right, the first time, is always the best way forward.

The ChatC Group has worked with dozens of enterprise clients globally over the last few years. Each custom AI chatbot brought with it a number of learnings, including providing evidence as to why the custom solution was the only right choice for the customer. Here are five reasons why custom chatbots are best for enterprise.

  1. Front Loaded Design Produced the Best Long Term Solution

A key feature of a custom chatbot solution is that the bulk of the work for all parties involved in the project is at the outset. Gathering the stakeholders, discussing what need the chatbot should meet, and carefully outlining the specific use case are essential to getting things right, the first time. 

In addition to that, a custom solution should always be using KPIs to measure and track its progress against your specific requirements. Custom solutions nail down these KPIs early on and set up dashboards inside the chatbot so that it automatically gathers data, analyzes it and reports what you need to know. 

The upfront burden of work can seem tiresome, but when enterprise clients see the data collected after their efforts, there was no question as to whether it was worth the hard work. The AI-powered chatbot continues to analyze data, which is then used to guide the business, providing accurate insights contributing to the bottom line, long after the chatbot project has concluded. 

  1. Enterprise Needs More than a Pop-up Solution

For some very simple use cases, the decision tree chatbot approach may work. Examples include capturing leads after a webinar, recording sign-ups for an email list or answering very basic FAQs on your website. The benefit of the decision tree chatbot here is ease of use, and keeping users in the same window to collect their information.

For larger businesses though, this solution won’t always work. Enterprise clients need a chatbot that is more involved and solves a larger business issue for them, in a way that more people will benefit. An entrepreneur or small business could use the decision tree chatbot for sign-ups, but SMBs or enterprises need a more polished solution that can do more than reply with pre-canned answers. Understanding language and intent are key.

  1. Recognizing Intent in Conversations Was Crucial

Understanding a person’s intent when they type a message or question into a chatbot window is only possible when it’s run on a conversational AI platform. A simple decision-tree chatbot cannot tell what the person is getting at in their query; they can only identify if a keyword has been entered, and then look-up how to respond to that keyword in their decision tree framework.

When handling customer service or answering more involved questions, in the case of a dedicated internal chatbot, the person’s intent matters. Understanding lingo, undertones of emotion, and getting to the root of what’s being asked when different phrases are used is a tricky thing for a program. But when you want a solution that is more efficient at retrieving information and answering questions correctly, conversational AI is required, and all of our large enterprise clients have agreed and invested in this technology.

  1. Improvement over Time Made the Best Business Case

One additional benefit of custom chatbot solutions: they actually improve over time. As their database of conversations grows with each passing day in operation, they learn to deliver better service, all on their own. 

With other forms of software and technology, improvements are often at the cost of a new round of development or diverting current IT professionals to instead focus on bringing an older technology back to today’s standards. Enterprise clients are thrilled to hear that once they’ve invested in the conversational AI and spent the time training the code on their own data, it will continue to be relevant and useful without any other significant expenditures.

  1. Custom Chatbot Solutions Meet Individualized Use Case Requirements Best

Custom solutions to meet very specific use cases may seem like an obvious answer, but the complexities associated with a modern-day enterprise and their tech stacks are not trivial. Big businesses have already invested heavily in their infrastructure and myriad technical solutions and software.

A custom AI chatbot can be developed on a platform that integrates seamlessly with a business’s current tech stack. Building a custom chatbot means it will fit into your existing architecture and can be deployed onto the server of your choice (from Azure and AWS to Google Cloud and more). All of this work upfront is again saving you time and frustration in dealing with a new system. Chatbots and consultants that cater to your needs make your life easier, not yet another thing to learn and add to your to-do list. 

Chatbot Consultants Deliver Personalized Chatbot Solutions

While a custom chatbot solution is the most versatile offering for enterprise, the only way to achieve that end is by working with a chatbot consultant. These are experts versed in all things conversational AI, who don’t just have the tech background, but also the ability to work well with all parties, managing a project for big business, and ensuring seamless execution.
If you’re curious about our process at The ChatC Group, take a look at our webpage, or reach out to one of our experts to discuss what we do. Talking tech and helping your business reach its goals are two things we can’t get enough of. Book a call; it’s easy to chat with us.

Human resources (HR) is a non-revenue generating department, but they’re also the heartbeat of an organization. Their work in recruiting, retention, training and so much more is undeniably central to a business’s success. 

Other departments have little trouble getting the technology they need to support their function because they can prove the bottom line benefits. HR, on the other hand, struggles to get the support they need. Chatbots are just one example of a piece of technology that HR could benefit from, and you might be surprised at how versatile the solution can be when applied to different use cases within HR. 

5 Automation Use Cases when Deploying Chatbots for HR

Chatbots for HR come in all shapes and sizes, and the beauty of custom chatbot solutions is that they can be tailored for specific use cases even within the HR function. Here are five examples of how automation can be put to work using chatbots for HR.

1. Q&A Automation in HR

Ultimately, HR generalists receive similar enquiries on a daily or weekly basis, and could benefit from a way to automate the responses to these frequently asked questions. Even if there are templated answers to questions that HR professionals can copy and paste into an email, that still takes up precious time and focus. Automation in terms of a chatbot answering questions would allow for a personal touch to be maintained, while employees have their pressing questions answered.

“I think there is an opportunity, similar to what we’ve experienced in other industries, such as banking, telecom, etc., where general questions to an HR department could be supported through chatbots and other pre-built Q&A functionally that would create more efficiencies for HR generalists.”

–John Doe, Director, Total Rewards & HR Technology
2. Employee Records Virtual Assistants

Another example of a virtual assistant that could support busy HR professionals is one to help with employee records. Inputting the data, handling change requests, and accessing/searching for data are all very labour-intensive processes. Handing off these jobs to a virtual assistant that could gather the necessary information from employees itself would be a huge burden off the back of an HR generalist.

person writing on notebook Chatbots for HR can be used to automate Q&A, elevate employee experience, and streamline routine paperwork and enrolment to support HR professionals.
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The chatbot could also converse with managers near yearly review time and gather the required information and performance scores, inputting the data into the standardized forms automatically. The managers could then focus their time on speaking with employees during the review and spending less time on data entry. When employees need to add feedback to these records or want to access old performance reviews, they can simply ask the chatbot for this information. An HR representative does not need to be involved in the simple task of retrieving data.

“Employee records, in particular, could be better supported via automation/virtual assistant. These activities are usually very labour and time-intensive and provide little value to the individual completing the tasks.”

–John Doe, Director, Total Rewards & HR Technology
3. Increase the Efficiency of Gathering Company-wide Insights

When it comes to company-wide surveys, polling employees about their experiences can be a massive undertaking. But what if you could outsource the creation of a chatbot to gather the information you need to gain insights? 

Whether it’s feedback on the current benefits package or taking the pulse on how HR itself could better serve the employees, a chatbot can gather information in a manner that is familiar to people. This will maximize the rate of adoption and ensure that the highest number of employees are participating. Dr. Katherine Jones explains that many people are familiar with AI and ready to embrace it at work. 

“A great many employees today are used to AI support at home through Alexa and Siri and are used to interacting in natural language with bots in many online and telephone transactions. It is barely a stretch to bot-supported common HR questions for candidates, new hires, and employees in general.”

–Dr. Katherine Jones, High-tech Market Analyst (Jones, 2020)

When HR experts were asked about the promise of AI in supporting them at work, they were quick to respond with how it would help streamline the process toward insights that would guide their decision-making.

“HR respondents saw analytics and metrics as the areas in which AI has the greatest potential to improve the HR function, perceiving AI as a tool to further its ability to better understand larger amounts of data and better synthesize it to meaningful information for the organization.”

–Dr. Katherine Jones, High-tech Market Analyst (Jones, 2020)
4. Plan Enrolment Automation

As a part of the onboarding process, enrolling employees in the company benefits plan is a bit of a process itself. There are often lengthy presentations that HR representatives give about the plans and choices available. Any questions that can’t easily be answered would have to be funneled back to the plan provider, creating a lot of back-and-forth communication for HR.

Add to that ensuring that all paperwork is filled out correctly by each employee and that they have made their selections by the dates required, and it’s a lot of administrative work. If instead a chatbot was put in place to gather all the required information, storing it in the appropriate database, HR personnel would be able to spend more of their day working on the complex issues that require time and space to solve. 

person holding black tablet computer Chatbots for HR can be used to automate Q&A, elevate employee experience, and streamline routine paperwork and enrolment to support HR professionals.
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The chatbot could also be used to answer questions about the plan, enrolment dates, and the services offered. Not only would this save time, but it would also be more accurate for employees. They could converse with the chatbot about the plan at their leisure, and not have to worry about calling up HR to have a conversation. Jeanne Meister, bestselling author on the future of work, explains how AI and chatbots will naturally assist HR:

“AI will augment HR and give HR time to work on more strategic business issues. The opportunity is to use AI to streamline HR manual processes and provide a more consumer grade service to employees.”

Jeanne Meister, Co-author, The Future Workplace Experience
5. Crisis Management to Support HR Communications

In the past year alone, chatbots have played a key role in how companies have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. With new scientific research becoming available each week and municipalities changing their regulations regularly to support public health measures, communication to residents and employees has had to step up.

HR departments have had their hands full, and so IBM took it upon themselves to utilize their in-house conversational AI technology, Watson, to help carry the load. They deployed a crisis assistant and offered it to their clients so that HR departments could keep their employees apprised of the latest changes, protocols, and news. It also allowed them to ask questions at any time of the day, again helping to free up already overburdened HR departments. IBM’s HR Innovation Leader, Eric Bokelberg, explains:

“A chatbot could be set up to specifically answer questions about Covid-19, offsetting the increased workload in the service center and giving employees a single 24×7 point of contact for information about the virus. It also enabled HR teams to easily update information as the situation changed.”

–Eric Bokelberg, HR Innovation Leader, IBM Talent and Transformation Services (Bokelberg, 2020)

Chatbots for HR Support and Human-like Conversation

HR is a vital function in any business, and the technology that supports it should also bring vitality to its implementation. Conversational AI chatbots bring the personal touch and the sense that you are speaking with a human. They are the perfect complement to a people-centred department.
If you’re curious about putting a custom chatbot solution to work in your HR department, reach out to one of our chatbot consultants today. You can learn more about us on our website.

Financial plans are important documents and take a substantial amount of time to create and communicate to the customer. But, should they really take that long from start to finish? The answer might surprise you in this article comparing two very different banks.

To showcase how a finance chatbot could revolutionize customer experience, this article details the traditional financial planning approach versus the newly transformed, automation-enhanced approach. 

The Traditional Financial Planning Process without Chatbot Technology

At many institutions, the process of creating, verifying, approving, and delivering a financial plan is a long, drawn-out process. A total timeline of two or three months is not uncommon. In researching how this process unfolds, the bottlenecks identified were intriguing, because there seems to be a workaround for these issues. But before getting ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the case study in detail. 

A financial plan constructed within the four walls of a traditional bank goes through a particular cadence, which could vary from company to company, but in general the process is slow and labour intensive. The onus is placed on the bank’s employee to collect information and manually input many pieces of data. 

A Sequence of Human-powered Steps to Financial Planning

When a client requests a financial plan from a bank, it sets off a series of events, as follows:

  1. The client fills out a questionnaire about their desired financial plan and current information.
  2. The client books a call with a financial advisor.
  3. The advisor goes through the questionnaire inputs the data manually into a separate system for internal use.
  4. A separate entity, housed in an entirely different business unit, then takes the data from the financial advisor and inputs it into their own system, manually. 
  5. High-level financial planners then review and overlook the plan and the process.
  6. The financial plan is then relayed to the client via the original financial planner.

Heaven forbid a change request is received at any point during or after this process, such that it then needs to start all over again. The client has already waited over a month, and more than likely 6 – 8 weeks to receive the first plan. Now, another lengthy process awaits, and the financial advisor is the go-between, often having to manage expectations of the client, while working in an antiquated system.

Within the steps above, information is entered manually, by humans, three times. And while there is a level of checking and double-checking happening here that is good for correctness, there’s also an equally likely chance that data could be entered incorrectly by people. Oversight in finance is great. But redundant human data entry is ripe for disruption. 

Financial Planning Powered by Cutting-edge Finance Chatbot Technology

Now think about how much faster (and more accurate) the process could be if automation was put in place. Anywhere that data entry is heavy, automation is the key to offload monotonous tasks from employees and to ensure that data is captured correctly (just once). 

Automation and artificial intelligence are technologies at the heart of chatbots. And while many forms of automation could be put to use in this process, chatbots make it easy for financial advisors to do their jobs, providing a human-like interface to work with.

There are forward-thinking financial institutions that have already started to embrace this technology to speed up their financial planning service delivery. The process is condensed:

  1. The client fills out a questionnaire on their needs and current financial information.
  2. The client books a call with a financial advisor.
  3. Automated software takes the information from the client’s questionnaire and inputs it directly into the financial planning software for the advisor to review.
  4. The financial advisor reviews the plan and sends it to the client. 
blue and yellow graph on stock market monitor Finance Chatbot
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The automated process, saving the financial advisor on manual data entry, and instead allowing them to focus on the higher-level planning, also saves the customer time. They receive their financial plan in two to three weeks. Speed is obviously important in today’s customer service industries, but by cutting down on the time it takes to create the financial plan, it’s more likely that the plan itself will still be useful. Think about how much changed in 2020 and now into 2021. A plan constructed at one time may no longer be valid three months later. 

When the client requests a change to their financial plan at this automation-embracing bank, they simply fill in a new questionnaire with the updated information. The automated system then updates the plan, and they have the numbers in a matter of days, not weeks. The only time required is that of the financial advisor looking over the updated numbers, and not on a long process of data entry, oversight, and manual data transfer processes. Automation allows for banks to provide more flexible services that don’t require a complete re-do of the financial plan.

Finance Chatbots Takes Experience to the Next Level

Not only are customers delighted by how much faster they receive their financial plan, but the financial planners/advisors have a much better employee experience. Eliminating boring tasks, like data entry, help to give financial professionals more time on complex problem solving and planning. In addition, with AI technology backing them up, allowing for better turnaround times and even more accurate reports, they look better to their clients. Relationships between customers and financial experts are strengthened when finance chatbots are part of the process.

Consider how your financial institution might be able to put a finance chatbot to work in your processes. Chatbots have already been carefully developed with compliance in mind, specifically for the financial industry. You could even add functionality to improve accessibility to your products and services. For example, adding a voice component to your chatbot would improve accessibility to those who have a visual impairment. 

If this article got your brain waves flowing about how finance chatbots could be used in your company, reach out to one of our chatbot consultants today. We’d love to discuss your ideas and bring your vision to life.

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Google has been supporting enterprises with a whole host of productivity-enhancing software for years now. From Gmail to Google Docs to Hangouts and your Google Drive, it’d be difficult for many of us to live without their tools. But did you know that Google is also heavily invested in technology for niche markets? 

And, did you know that Google has its own conversational AI platform that is specifically designed to support call centres? Simply named Contact Center AI, it’s built to drive efficiency and next-level customer experience. 

Before you write this off as something too advanced for your operation, take yourself back 16 years ago to 2004 when Gmail was first released. Not everyone jumped on the Gmail train then, but look at how ubiquitous the email service is now. 

The same is true when it comes to AI for contact centres. Take a look below at how this cutting-edge technology can be put to use today in order to set your business apart from its competition. 

Case Studies: How to Use AI for Contact Centres

While Google’s application of AI for contact centres is one example, there are a few others in the marketplace that are worth showcasing. Conversational AI is the baseline technology that is deployed differently by each engine, like Google’s Dialogflow or IBM’s Watson. The conversational AI platform enables the chatbot uses to first train on a data set and then to converse with the end-user. In the case of contact centres, the conversational AI could be trained on past call transcriptions, and as it’s in use for longer periods of time, it automatically gets better, maximizing your upfront investment in the technology. Here are two case studies specifically on how to use AI for contact centres.

1. Streamline Call Quality Assurance with Conversational AI

National Debt Relief (NDR) decided to invest in Observe.AI’s conversational AI platform to streamline its call centre quality assurance (Audiotex Update, 2021). 

The AI Solution:

Observe.AI used conversational AI combined with automatic speech recognition and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze 100% of their contact centre calls. Traditionally, only a fraction of calls could be analyzed from recordings by people, because the amount of data was simply too large. But now, there is full transparency into the contact centre’s calls.

The Result:

By streamlining their processes and having the conversational AI software record, transcribe and decipher the calls, NDR has been able to improve its frontline coaching for agents. The massive amount of data collected ensures that training is focused where it’s most needed, and agents are now armed with the training they need to provide excellent customer service. 

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2. Bring Automation to Customer Service

One start-up has developed a conversational AI platform specifically for contact centres in order to use automation to empower the agents already in place. PolyAI was created in the UK with a small group of engineers from Cambridge’s Dialog Systems Group (NewsRX LLC, 2019). 

The AI Solution:

PolyAI deploys enterprise-ready voice assistants, based on proprietary machine learning and Natural Language Process (NLP) technology. The conversational chatbots can scale seamlessly and can even detect and converse in many world languages. Similar to the use case above, PolyAI listens to the calls received and learns to provide improved responses. When there are too many calls for the human agents to tackle, the automated AI chatbots can handle calls themselves.

The Result:

PolyAI recognizes that excellent customer service in a call centre, and the resulting CSAT scores, can only be achieved with human customer service agents. So the AI chatbots are there to assist, solving routine issues when customers call in and leaving the more complex issues to the experienced agents. The Co-founder and CEO of PolyAI, Nikola Mrksic emphasizes that “AI agents are not a replacement for the human touch, which is essential for great customer experience. However, automation is key for changing the economics of a contact centre” (NewsRX LLC, 2019).  

man in white dress shirt standing beside woman in white long sleeve shirt ai-for-contact-centres
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Planning for the Future using AI in Your Contact Centre

The case studies show just how useful a chatbot running on a conversational AI engine can be for increasing your CSAT scores and improving your overall operational efficiency. That’s reason alone to look at how a chatbot could help you put in place money-saving systems now. 

As some businesses take a more cautious approach to a post-COVID world, spending on certain customer service and marketing tools will be limited. But if the technology helps to reduce operational costs, offsetting the investment, and creating for a long-term financial benefit, then companies have a solid business case supporting AI for contact centres. 

On top of that, a conversational AI chatbot designed exactly for your particular business type and contact centre use case will deliver the largest ROI for your investment. Spending on technology can be seen as risky in some industries and during certain unstable time periods, but a chatbot is actually a low-risk way for you to start figuring out how to put this technology to use so you stay ahead of the curve.

You are in control of the chatbot’s roll-out, and using an agile approach, The ChatC Group advises that you design and release the software in stages. This also saves you time and money, because you focus on the minimum viable product, validate the use case you’re working with on a small group of users, and then commit to developing the chatbot for a wider release to your contact centre customers and agents. 

When you work with a chatbot consultant, rather than contracting out the project to one of the players described in this article, you also ensure you have someone negotiating on your behalf. Our team of seasoned experts knows which conversational AI platform you need and how to get the best results for your budget. If you’re curious to learn more about us, book a call! We love to chat about how to put AI to work for your contact centre.

The business use cases for chatbots are nearly endless, but there are also interesting and impactful ways that chatbots can be used for social good around the world. In particular, our favourite technology is a fantastic medium for improving access to much-needed education in emerging international markets.

Smartphone vs. Laptop Usage in Emerging Markets

In many emerging markets access to a smartphone is much more common than access to a laptop or desktop computer. And while there are still gaps in ownership between the women and men of some emerging markets, many people will share a smartphone in order to access the apps and information they require. 

In order to improve access to education and support services, the smartphone will play a crucial role. And yes, the smartphone is not the solution for all populations in emerging economies, but it does reach a much higher percentage than if education is simply doled out online or in person. Because smartphones are much more accessible than laptops, education that is optimized for mobile devices will be better received. 

It’s no different than when your experience on a mobile version of a website is sub-optimal. You won’t spend the time reading through information if it isn’t presented well. And if there’s an app that has a better user experience than the website, it’s an easy decision to consume content on the mobile app.

Any organization that is looking to improve access to education needs to look at the lowest barriers to entry for the demographic they are serving. And that might mean getting creative and resourceful with how information can be accessed on the most popular apps downloaded and utilized on a smartphone. 

person holding iphone showing social networks folder - Emerging Markets
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The Best Apps to Reach Populations in Emerging Economies

Globally, WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger are the most popular messaging apps based on the number of active users. Keep in mind that Facebook now owns WhatsApp, making it a huge player in the marketplace. WhatsApp also dominates the marketplace in certain emerging economies, such as India, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.

NGOs and government organizations have looked at the platform as an option for better distribution of information and education. Because people are familiar with the interface and use it regularly in their daily conversations, there’s no additional learning burden if education is displayed in the app. Further to that, many organizations are choosing a chatbot as the means of distributing information and interacting with end users on WhatsApp. 

As mentioned above, WeChat is another messaging app that is used quite heavily. In fact, it’s the fifth most popular social app in the entire world. Originally developed as a simple messenger app in 2011, it’s now grown to include other services, like WeChat Pay and WeChat Health, which has assisted in delivering online access to pandemic-related information and self-assessment tools for the novel coronavirus. 

Other apps that have seen increased adoption, though not to the level of WhatsApp, WeChat or Facebook Messenger include Telegram, Signal and Line. Signal received a good amount of press after Elon Musk endorsed its use due to its encryption and focus on privacy. However, Telegram, which is also an end-to-end encrypted messaging app, has seen much greater adoption than Signal. It’s users have been growing in countries like Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. 

One final app to consider in emerging markets is LINE, originally created in Japan as a private messaging app, it now contains many additional services, similar to WeChat with payment options and social media features. In 2019, LINE even released an AI chatbot, making way for increased functionality and a whole slew of possible ways to distribute meaningful information. LINE isn’t just popular in Japan though; it’s other top markets are Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand.

person people hand smartphone - Emerging Markets
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Where Chatbot Technology Will Continue to Improve Access to Education

The WeChat Health example described above is the tip of the iceberg, in terms of what apps can do to help populations in emerging markets. Consider other public health education initiatives, financial literacy programs or other life skills that governments and organizations could further by making their messaging available and easy-to-access on popular apps. Additional education could be delivered to people on financial literacy, mental health and any other 

Taking that one step further with the integration of a chatbot, and users can ask questions about the information being taught, and will be able to converse with the AI technology in their own languages and dialects. Chatbots are also available 24/7 to assit, meaning the education has a higher chance of landing when it’s convenient for people to consume. 

Finally, chatbots can also integrate voice search into their repertoire, which will further improve access to education and support services. For those that have visual impairments, voice search enables access. For those who may not have the reading and writing skills required of a text-based chatbot or educational course, voice integrations break down further barriers to access for both marginalized populations and emerging economies. 

Education delivery is constantly in flux, whether from government organizations and NGOs or from large educational institutions, like universities and private/public schools. This past year parents, teachers and students alike had to navigate the transition of education from in-person teaching to online learning. Questions around access to laptops and tablets for students to access video conferencing began to arise. Many students had to wait for tech to be provided and some simply went without. Imagine if the education was to be optimized in the future for smartphones, and with chatbot options so that more students wouldn’t be left behind. 

If your organization is looking for better ways to reach people with their services, training, support or education, get in touch with one of our expert chatbot consultants today. We can also advise on the best channels and platforms for a chatbot to maximize the number of end-users you impact. We’d love to assist your mission in helping people locally and globally.