COVID-19 descended upon 2020 in a way no one expected. What was once a problem in other countries quickly became a worldwide problem in a matter of weeks. Businesses were shuttered, schools were closed and it left people everywhere wondering how things could change so rapidly. 

Canada’s unemployment rate hit 13% in April, with 2 million additional jobs being lost (on top of the 1 million lost in March).

With so many businesses forced to rely on digital communication, chatbots have emerged front and centre as a tool to help companies, agencies and governments with their COVID-19 response.

Using Chatbots To Stop the Spread of Misinformation

The internet is great – until it isn’t. And with so much anxiety and uncertainty, it can be difficult to know what to believe, which sources are credible, and where to get your daily fix of news. 

A variety of organizations and agencies launched different online platforms in order to deal with the influx of public concern and the rapidly growing problem of misinformation. 

Chatbots were one such online platform, used to spread correct information. An added bonus with chatbots, in comparison to online information sources or newspapers: they can understand and respond in natural language. This even improves the quality of access for people who struggle with the internet or have a difficult time reading. 

Chatbots can be available to answer pressing questions at any time of day with reliable, up-to-date information. They also have the ability to speak a variety of languages, making it easier to reach diverse populations worldwide.

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a Facebook Messenger chatbot version of its WHO Health Alert platform. By doing so, the WHO offered instant and accurate information about COVID-19– via Facebook’s global reach.  

COVID-19 Response

Available in many languages, the service can be accessed through the WHO’s Facebook page. As such, the WHO has the potential to reach 4.2 billion people – that is more than half of the world’s population getting real-time accurate data about the virus. This chatbot helps people protect themselves and their families, as well as preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The City of Toronto

In May of 2020 the city of Toronto launched an official COVID-19 chatbot in order to help answer the variety of questions they were fielding related to the virus and its various impacts. 

The chatbot uses AI (artificial intelligence) to answer questions with standard answers using content that is already available on its main website. But because of the AI, as the chatbot gets used more and more, it will be able to better communicate, learn from its conversations, and provide better answers and service for residents of Toronto. 

For example, you could ask the chatbot: 

  • Is the outdoor swimming pool by my home open?
  • Where can I get tested for COVID-19?
  • What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

The chatbot will then get better with each use and will help to spread valid information. 

More Ways That Chatbots Can Be Used in COVID-19 Response Planning

Pandemics have specific characteristics that make them well-tailored to chatbot assistance. Pandemics differ from other natural disasters in the following ways:

  1. Individual actions can worsen the outcome, which means that one person has the ability to infect others easily.
  2. It is easy for the virus to spread from asymptomatic people, without anyone knowing it. The fear of infecting others can also make people hide their symptoms. 
  3. The physical gatherings that are essential to our core as humans (religious events, family gatherings and school trips) are the events that people are supposed to be avoiding. However, there are great concerns about future mental health impacts.

Chatbots can be used in the following ways to help plan for current and future health crises.

COVID-19 Response
  • Symptom monitoring: There are chatbots that make it easy for people to assess themselves and get immediate results so they can take precautions. Chatbots can help alleviate stress on the healthcare system and help to calm fears about catching the virus. Chatbots are well suited to screen for symptoms during a pandemic because people may avoid seeking medical care or treatment either because of fear of the stigma or because of fear of being exposed to the virus. Research has shown that people are more willing to discuss personal medical information with a chatbot than a human, which could result in more accurate possible diagnoses. An example of a symptom monitoring chatbot is COBO, which is a Facebook Messenger bot that asks questions to determine one’s risk of catching the virus.
  • Behaviour change support: In order to affect behaviour, information must be available. Chatbots present the ability to connect knowledge with action by providing step-by-step instructions, repetition, and presenting reliable information. Chatbots can offload this time-consuming work from healthcare workers. Penn Medicine has developed a chatbot that is intended to help assess symptoms, help patients find answers to questions surrounding COVID-19, as well as route them to the appropriate care. 
  • Mental health support: Due in part to the imminent dangers of COVID-19, physical needs are first and foremost. Unfortunately, this does not allow for mental health concerns to be addressed. People who are used to receiving in-person support for mental health issues were unable to keep up with those appointments. The pandemic has also caused great stress for many people, who were unable to get support. In the short-term, chatbots can help to provide support to those who are struggling with the psychological side effects of isolation. Preliminary studies suggest that chatbots may help to reduce mental health symptoms, although more research is needed. If chatbots are purposefully designed and used, they may lessen the long-term impacts of pandemic-related isolation, depression and trauma. 

RELATED: Case Study FAQ Vaccine Chatbot

How Chatbots Can Be Used to Help Your Employees With COVID-19 Response

We have established that chatbots are effective when used by public and government agencies, but how can your company employ the use of chatbots during this unpredictable pandemic?

  • Virtual healthcare assistants: Many private companies and businesses put strict health measures in place after the lockdown began to lift. From social distancing methods to health questionnaires, finding people to stand at the front doors to administer these costs money. Consider using a chatbot to provide reliable information and clear guidelines, recommend protection measures, check and monitor symptoms, and advise individuals whether they need hospital screening or self-isolation at their home.
  • Facial recognition and fever detector chatbots: Cameras with AI-based multisensory technology have been deployed in a variety of public spaces (airports, hospitals, nursing homes). This technology automatically detects individuals with fever, tracks their movements, recognizes their faces, and can detect if the person is wearing a face mask.

Are you wondering how a chatbot can help you through the COVID-19 global pandemic? Get in touch with one of our team members today


By now, most of us have had some sort of experience with chatbots as a consumer. Whether it was through your cable company when you wanted new channels, or you were requesting an instruction manual for your new kettle. And while we can all see the benefit of chatbots from a customer service perspective, there is also great potential for chatbots to be used internally within a company to further harness digital transformation. 

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is integrating digital technology into all areas of a business, which, done properly, can change how you operate and deliver customers value. It requires companies to get comfortable with experimentation and facing the requirement for failure, iteration and improvement.

However, it’s important to note that typically a digital transformation has an external focus, so in order to have a true, cyclical digital transformation, your company needs to embrace Enterprise Service Management (ESM).

Enterprise Service Management

Enterprise Service Management (ESM) is the process of digitizing and coordinating high-tech initiatives across an entire company in order to fuel innovation, agility, collaboration, and scalability. Oftentimes CEOs are so externally focused that they miss what is right in front of them – there are immense cost savings that come with focusing internally. In order to enable a digital transformation, ESM can do the following:

– Clarify services
– Identify improvement opportunities
– Improve control and governance
– Automate 

Internal Chatbots

How Can Internal Chatbots Be Used for ESM?

Internal chatbots will still have all the features of external ones (sharing resources, fact-finding flows, and dealing with FAQs). But internal chatbots will be exclusively by employees. There are a variety of ways that internal chatbots can be put to work for ESM efforts in organizations:

Complete Daily Tasks: Chatbots help complete menial tasks by dealing with simple yet important problems. Some of these tasks may include dealing with timesheets, booking meetings, and requesting time off. And of course, those tasks pile up quickly when the employees responsible are on holiday or call in sick. Internal chatbots can help employees to significantly decrease the amount of time spent on these simple tasks by doing the work for them. The result is that the organization gains efficiency through automating these processes, and when done thoughtfully, the process is streamlined and consistent across the organization.

Handle Sensitive Issues: Whether you are dealing with tax information, employee/HR issues, or innovative product development, you want to protect data and privacy. Chatbots can include Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption, two-factor or multi-factor authentication (MFA), and cookies that can ensure that no one can view, alter or steal communications

Empowering Physical Robots: It’s happening – and not just in the movies. Internal chatbots make way for the potential to use physical robots in your workflow. So whether it’s seating a meeting guest or giving a plant tour, robots can change the way we work. (And as a bonus, using robots in your workplace has the ability to reduce 35% of work days lost to injury!)

5 Benefits to AI-Powered Internal Chatbots

Powering up your internal communication using artificial intelligence brings the following benefits: 

1. Chatbots are an Easy Touchpoint: We have all written that email and waited what seems like hours for a response. An internal chatbot does away with that type of time wasting. As soon as an employee asks the question, they have access to the answer when a chatbot is put in place. 

2. Employees are Already using Chat Apps: Your employees are chatting all day because it is quick, easy and it produces results. In fact, by April 2020, 2 billion (with a b!) people were using the WhatsApp messenger service on a monthly basis. Incorporating this type of technology into a standard workflow won’t be a huge adjustment for anyone, meaning maximum adoption rates and ROI.

3. Chatbots fit into Everyone’s Schedule: Now more than ever your employees are working when it’s convenient for them. So whether it’s an employee working after her kids go to bed, or an early riser getting a head start, no one will have to do without the information they need. Chatbots don’t require the sleep that humans do, making themselves valuable 24 hours a day.

4. Chatbots Provide an Online Paper Trail:  Some days it feels like there is a never-ending amount of paperwork to deal with. Whether it’s insurance forms, expense claims, or notes from your latest pitch. Internal chatbots can provide these forms, track compliance with certain processes, and make it easier to complete them, without errors.

5. New Team Members Will Be Supported: Remember when you were the new employee that felt completely out of the loop? With internal chatbots, everything new team members need to know is within their reach. This will be beneficial to you as well because the sooner everyone understands your business’s goals, the quicker you can get to smashing them!

Internal Chatbots

Chatbots Are the Way of the Future – Don’t Get Left Behind

There are a variety of ways you can use chatbots (internally and externally). Be the forward-thinking change agent in your organization and cast a vision for digital transformation today. The potential use cases are truly endless, from HR enablement to IT process automation and more.  

Are you wondering how you can incorporate an internal chatbot into your company to help with streamlining your processes? Get in touch with one of our team members today or check out more articles on our blog to learn more.

One of the greatest things to hit the customer service world recently is the development of chatbots. The days of waiting (not so patiently) on hold to find out the answer to your most burning questions are becoming a thing of the past. 

The chatbot market size is expected to grow from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $9.4 billion by 2024 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.7%.

While chatbots are simple for customers to use, they do take thorough and thoughtful planning while in the development stage. With upfront planning, working with all stakeholders synergistically and the guidance of a proven chatbot consultant/project manager, you have the best chances for successful implementation, adoption and ROI.

Chatbots are useful in customer service, including providing product recommendations and engaging with customers through a variety of campaigns.

For example, chatbots have been used to:

– Answer consumers questions quickly, at any time of the day or night
– Provide recommendations based on the customer’s past purchases
– Let customers know about sales or promotions
– Help customers find information or products on a company website

Business Benefits of Chatbot Development

Keep Things Running 24/7: Typical office productivity is usually 6-8 hours/day, but chatbots work around the clock allowing your business to never truly sleep. In a recent study, it was determined that 71% of consumers want the ability to solve customer service issues on their own, which also means on their own time.

Deliver Personalized Responses: Because of the built-in AI, bots can read human intent and deliver personalized responses. In turn, customer satisfaction increases, which drives customer acquisition. 

Increase Retention Rates: Customer acquisition, however, is expensive. As more customers are retained, your ROI increases. The inclusion of a chatbot will provide insight into how your customers truly feel towards your business, allowing you to make data-driven decisions to increase customer lifetime value. 

person choosing document in folder
Photo by Anete Lusina on

4 Steps to Start the Chatbot Development Process on the Right Foot

Here’s what you need to know before you kickoff the chatbot development process:

1. Determine your main goal for the chatbot: Brainstorm what problems you are hoping your bot will solve for you and your customers, and then pick one very specific use case.

2. Identify the target audience for the bot: Determine whether there is a specific persona that will have their needs met by your chatbot. 

3. Create a chatbot project plan: Document what your project requires, including experts you need to lean on, timing expectations, and forward-thinking implementation strategies.

4. Develop a minimum viable product (MVP): Finally, you need to develop the most simple version of the bot with the bare minimum functionality. This is the first baby step within an agile chatbot development process.

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The Agile Chatbot Development Process

As developers often quip: Failure is a feature. Failing fast during the chatbot development process means fixing errors quickly and more affordably throughout the design cycles. Agile consultants and software teams use a distinct process to step through the chatbot development process in order to not only make the most of the budget but to also ensure that the product developed meets all stakeholders’ expectations. 

Chatbot Development Process

To illustrate the agile chatbot development process in action, ChatC’s proven process is summarized below. You can get a feel for what’s involved at each step of the project and for more details on timing or your commitments at each stage, check out our process here

1. Discover automation opportunities: Automation is the delegation of the human control function to a machine. So, how can you let a chatbot take over human functions? Ultimately, if you have staff entering data or responding to repetitive questions, there are opportunities for automation. The first step includes:

– Exploring the business value of chatbots
– Understanding and determining the feasibility of applying conversational AI

2. Define use case: A use case is a list of actions that define the interactions between a system and a role to achieve a goal. Include the following in your documentation:

– Decide on the exact business application 
– Document KPIs to ensure project success
– Learn about the vendor landscape

3. Determine vendor and finalize budget: The agile approach to vendor selection makes use of a streamlined process to pick the right supplier and finalize the budget, including:

– Leverage ChatC’s extensive pre-vetted vendor relationships
– Facilitate RFI and/or RFP if required
– Determine the budget
– Shortlist vendors and evaluate proposals

4. Document system architecture: System architecture is the behaviour or structure of the software that provides services and automation. More specifically, you’ll want to:

– Decide on tech stack integrations
– Strategize how and where the automated chatbot will be deployed

5. Develop proof of concept: A proof of concept shows that the goal of a project is viable and will be a success. Include the following:

– Reimagine the customer/employee journey and come up with a simple strategy to test out your solution
– Kick-off the development team
– Conduct small user group testing and feedback

6. Deploy minimal viable product (MVP): An MVP is a product developed with the most minimal functionalities, to see how the target audience will respond. Include the following in your plans and execution:

– Set Minimum Viable Product (MVP) requirements
– Mobilize the right team to build a minimal viable product (MVP)
– Begin learning together with all stakeholders (customers, operations, IT, etc.)

7. Determine scalability: Scalability is when a software solution is able to handle an increased amount of work. This is where the user group can increase and your team can begin to look at expanding the bot’s reach. Include the following:

– Review performance and KPIs of the MVP
– Determine how quickly the chatbot can be scaled 

8. Data analytics and support: By paying close attention to the data collected by the chatbot, your business decisions can be confidently driven using customer preferences moving forward. Be sure to:

– Put regular data monitoring practices in place (chatbots can be configured to make this even easier)
– Explore custom analytics to discover key insights
– Determine level of support required

Chatbots are the Present and Future – Explore Your Use Case Now

Many brands have already jumped on the chatbot train to reap the benefits of the next-generation technology. Delaying this decision could cause you to lag behind your competition. 

However, developing a chatbot is a substantial and ongoing investment for your team, and should be handled with care up-front. Consider the benefits of working with industry veterans, who have managed chatbot development projects for major Fortune 500 companies. 

Are you wondering how a Chatbot Consultant can help you to develop your company’s chatbot? Get in touch with one of our team members today. 

Chatbot QA, done right, deliver next-level customer experience. They’re convenient, personalized and make it easy for customers to get answers. There’s a reason you see them popping up on the websites you’re visiting. People would much rather converse with a bot and get a quick answer than wait on hold for the next available representative.

Using automation to save people time is exactly why chatbots are on the rise. Customer service is just one example of the many industries chatbots are being deployed in to make both customers’ and employees’ lives easier. But before chatbots can evolve to that level of complexity, there’s a key component that needs to be addressed: quality.

If you’re beginning to visualize how a chatbot could streamline operations for your company, don’t skip reading this article on quality assurance (QA). It’s the key to making sure every dollar you invest in this technology pays you back in productivity, customer experience, and sales/savings.

When Chatbot QA Isn’t the Focus, Customers Bail

Chatbots are efficient and customers love to interact with them; that is, until they don’t… 

In fact, 40% of chatbot users disengage after just one interaction. The reason for this departure: Bad chatbots didn’t undergo appropriate chatbot QA (quality assurance) before being released into the wild. 

Amazing customer experience is key and chatbots can deliver that, but when the solution goes sour, news travels fast. We’re more likely to read headlines about terrible (or even scary) chatbots than we are to read about the marvellous examples businesses are creating.

So, it’s imperative when you are executing a chatbot solution for your business, you get it right, the first time. Customers will be impressed, stick around for longer, and that has a direct positive impact on your bottom line.

What QA to Look for When Selecting a Chatbot Solution

No matter the budget or scale of your chatbot solution, you need to ensure it incorporates appropriate QA throughout the entire development process. Whether you develop the bot in-house or outsource the project management to a Chatbot consultant, make sure your solution includes the following chatbot QA feedback loops:

1. Define Specific Use Cases

The first step to ensuring a quality chatbot deployment is to define, very specifically, your use cases. Brainstorm with your team a shortlist of the possible use cases and for each of those, define the expected business result.

From that list, select one use case and define, in as much detail as possible, the exact business application. Document what the chatbot will do, what KPIs will indicate success or failure, and how exactly the chatbot will contribute to company-wide goals.

Don’t be afraid to narrow in. Being very clear about your use case, and simplifying it further than you might think necessary, will help with the QA process. If you and your team know where you are headed and have clear guideposts along the way, the simpler the use case, and the easier it will be to know you’re on the right track.

2. Develop a Proof of Concept

Now it’s time to kick-off the chatbot development team. But rather than jumping right into creating the final chatbot solution, agile processes should be used and a proof of concept should be the first step. This ensures the minimum possible development spent before the first quality feedback loop. 

Agile Chatbot Consultants will advocate for small development steps to ensure all parties are happy with the result. If you happen to be spearheading the project with an internal development team, make sure to rein them in so the first prototype is simple, and has just enough detail to allow for testing and QA.

Before the chatbot solution reaches the eager fingers of customers or employees, gather a small team of users to test the product out and provide honest feedback. Let the solution work for a couple of weeks and gather as much data as you can to detect any issues early on.

3. Deploy a Minimum Viable Product

The minimum viable product (or MVP) is yet another feedback loop, but one that incorporates a larger pool of test users. The MVP will also be detailed and polished enough it could be launched onto your public platforms. But it’s also not over-developed in the sense that you haven’t wasted development dollars on a product that requires some more improvements. 

Feedback loop #2 can now commence. You’ll be able to receive feedback from a larger user group and you’ll continue to collect data from the chatbot itself. As soon as issues are flagged, they can be addressed and corrected. Real data now inform the final development process, making sure your bot is on track to do what you intended without any surprises.

chatbot qa

4. Commit to Continuous Chatbot Improvement

One of the greatest characteristics of chatbots is they inherently improve. Conversational AI gets better and better at anticipating the user’s intent and providing the correct solution.

So even without additional development or updates, the chatbot will improve, making the most of your investment.

However, human QA is still required to ensure the chatbot is continuing to deliver value to the end-user. A team member will need to check-in periodically and make sure the improvements the AI is delivering are, in fact, improvements. 

This is yet another feedback loop to ensure a quality product customers/employees are happy to use. And this step doesn’t take much additional time, because chatbot dashboards and backend systems should already be set-up to collect and display important data for humans to decipher and use to drive business decisions. 

Chatbot QA: Test, Test, and Test Again

While these many stages of testing and ensuring quality may seem like overkill, it’s this attention to detail and planning that will ensure you don’t have a chatbot blunder on your hands. The logical, agile approach to development will ensure bugs are found early, mitigating the cost of course correction. 

Your chatbot solution needs to be extensively and continuously tested before and during its launch to make sure customers are delighted, and not turned-off, by your chatbot. This way, you’ll preserve your company’s brand and its dedication to deploying useful, quality solutions for its customers and employees. 

Have you wondered what a typical agile chatbot development process looked like? Check out our process flow chart here.

“Hey Siri, what’s the weather report for today?”

“Hey Alexa, order me more toothpaste.”

“Hey Google, what’s so great about voice search?”

Glad you asked. The simple answer is that voice search saves people time. It might be just a few seconds, but over the course of a day and multiple searches, that’s valuable time back in the hands of the seeker. 

In 2020, 50% of all online searches are conducted by voice. The difference between typing a search query into Google and asking your smart speaker a question is not trivial. Voice search SEO requires a change in strategy for companies to remain top-of-mind with consumers. 

Marketing’s Next Frontier: Voice Search SEO

Your company may already have a handle on traditional SEO marketing, cranking out useful content to help your ideal customers and to create leads for your sales team. Those tactics still work, but now’s the time to start having your team begin to look at how that strategy needs to change in order to still rank highly for voice search.

Let’s look at a simple example within the realm of digital products. If you sell email marketing software, your traditional SEO content on your blog and even in FAQ pages would be focused on what people type into the search bar on Google; things like:

– Best email marketing software for start-ups
– Email marketing software price
– Email marketing platforms

Customers don’t type like they speak. But, if one of them were to ask their Amazon Alexa or Google Home about the same topics using voice search, they might say:

– What’s the best email marketing software for a start-up?
– How much do email marketing software subscriptions cost?
– What email marketing platforms are available?

Notice two things about these different modes of search:

1. We type short-form but we speak in full sentences
2. Voice search forces longer-tail keywords for SEO

Any online marketing efforts using SEO in 2020 and beyond need a mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords in order to rank on traditional Google searches and in voice searches. 

Voice search SEO

Voice Search SEO Challenges

Long-tail keywords are much more specific than short-tail keywords, meaning they’ll be more difficult to rank higher for on Google. It’s hard to know exactly how someone will ask a question to Siri or Alexa. 

On top of that, traditional SEO tools that help marketers figure out what keywords people are searching for will take some time to catch-up and provide more data on voice search. 

But here’s the real challenge: voice search is only going to return one result for each question asked. People won’t have a list of Google results to sift through and choose from. 

There are two solutions to this challenge:

1. Rank first on Google for that question, which means your content shows up right on the page as the Google Snippet.
2. Build up your brand so customers will be asking for your company’s solution specifically; i.e., “How much does the ABC Company email marketing software cost?”

It’s clear voice searches are on the rise and companies need to adapt in order to make sure they are present wherever the customer chooses to search. But, how can you take this one step further in order to really impress your customers?

Voice Search SEO

Leverage Chatbot Conversational AI for Voice Search

Chatbots are another way to look at leveraging voice search SEO for your business because they can be built on voice recognition platforms. For instance, a chatbot could be developed as an Alexa Skill, making it easy for your customers to converse with your company.

Chatbots are uniquely positioned to naturally extend the one question-one answer voice search model to a longer (and more useful) two-way conversation. The reason that chatbots are on the rise in all different industries is that they use conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to speak with customers. 

You’ve probably started a customer service request with a company’s chatbot in the recent past or asked a question to an FAQ bot when shopping online. Chatbots recognize the customer’s intent and provide a response using extensive data and software. 

When you’re developing your voice search SEO strategy, why not look a little further into the future and reimagine what the customer’s experience could be? 

Could you put an intelligent chatbot in place to answer voice search questions, but also continue the conversation to ensure you’re delivering the maximum value? Customers are looking for convenience, one-on-one attention and efficiency. A chatbot could get all their questions answered and concerns addressed in one short voice conversation. 

Voice Search SEO

Voice Search + Chatbots = Next-level Customer Experience

When investing in long-term marketing strategies and future-focused technology, the investments of time and money are substantial. The payoff, though, when executed correctly is a massive uptick in customer experience, retention and revenue.

There are plenty of chatbot vendors and platforms to choose from, but when undertaking a project of this magnitude, be sure to consult with an expert who’s implemented a solution of a similar scale. Chatbot consultants can save you time and money at the outset by ensuring the technology developed meets your specific company-wide goals. 

For a project that is looking to leverage voice search, chatbots and forward-thinking marketing, you may need to bring in multiple experts. Some Chatbot consultancies will have strategic partnerships with industry-specific experts, which can save you time in hunting down the right team to manage the chatbot vision, development and implementation. 

When all of these considerations are tackled at the outset of the project, with a talented team, the sky’s the limit in terms of results. Not only will customers be delighted with the chatbot technology that exceeds their expectations, but the chatbot itself will continue to learn and improve, through its conversational AI, without any additional spend from your company. 

Curious about how a Chatbot Consultant could help your company’s voice search SEO efforts? Get in touch with one of our team members today.