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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
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

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
Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

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.

WhatsApp is used by two billion people worldwide on a monthly basis. That’s almost twice the monthly active users on Facebook Messenger. With the greatest global reach, it’s no surprise that WhatsApp chatbots are also on the rise. 

WhatsApp Chatbots Poised to Partner with NGOs

In addition to overall users, WhatsApp dominates the marketplace in certain locales around the globe. For instance, the countries with the most WhatsApp users are:

  1. India 
  2. Brazil
  3. USA
  4. Indonesia
  5. Mexico

NGOs (or non-governmental organizations, which are non-profit organizations) could strategically leverage the power of WhatsApp chatbots to communicate with people all over the world, but especially in the countries above that are heavy users of the app. Users are already familiar with the interface, and when an organization offers communication on the platform, barriers to communication and understanding are broken. 

Riaz Jogiyat, who is a business development expert, with extensive experience in data mining, conversational AI and NGOs, provided insight on how chatbots could serve NGOs: 

“If a chatbot is the tool that gets people to engage and communicate more, while balancing privacy, then I believe the potential is there for NGOs to make faster and more impactful decisions.”

WhatsApp Chatbots

The Power of WhatsApp Chatbots in Aiding NGOs

Depending on the countries that NGOs operate in, WhatsApp may be an untapped source of communication and data. In developing countries, communicating with key actors can be difficult. Technological and language barriers exist, and gathering information can be arduous. But in addition to that, the data that is collected often sits unused, when it could be put to task for the betterment of the countries it was collected in. Here’s how chatbots could be used to tackle both these issues.

  1. Contextual Information Gathering using WhatsApp Chatbots

Gathering information on the ground can take tremendous resources. Deploying a chatbot is a cost-effective way for NGOs to collect information, by way of surveys, answering questions, and conversing with the local population. A chatbot can even be developed such that it recognizes the language of the person and automatically responds in kind. Imagine the savings on interpreters and personnel gathering information live.

An example that Mr. Jogiyat considers to be prime for chatbot deployment is in the flow of communication between different actions of trade agreements. When evaluating the entire ecosystem of, say, a farming industry, its export and trade agreements, the chatbot could facilitate communication between:

  • Government agencies
  • Farmers
  • Businesses
  • Customers

Knowing that WhatsApp is easily picked up by populations around the world, it’s the natural choice for an NGO chatbot platform. Any actor with a mobile phone and access to the internet can connect easily and interact with the bot to get questions answered, to provide information, and to learn about any developments.

  1. Power of WhatsApp Chatbots Is also in the Insights

Once data has been collected by a chatbot, it’s ripe for mining. In fact, a recent study delved into data collected by NGOs within health policy and systems to find that it could be used as a primary data source to enable research in under-researched and marginalized groups. In conflict-affected areas and developing nations, it’s difficult for academics to perform research, but by developing partnerships with NGOs to improve data collection, research efforts could start to have a real impact on marginalized populations.

If a chatbot was used in the studies and data collection, the analysis of the data from people in the developing nation would be much easier. Chatbots can be designed to incorporate data analysis and information dashboards customized to the research desired. Build the chatbot on WhatsApp, which is used heavily in some developing nations, and the reach would be even greater, allowing for research efforts and improvements in health policy to be directed where truly needed. 

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Harness WhatsApp Chatbots the Right Way

As Riaz Jogiyat points out, security is still one of the concerns when it comes to deploying technology in an NGO. But experts in the chatbot realm know exactly how to build a chatbot that is secure and compliant. A Chatbot Consultant can also help ensure a chatbot is built by a team that has experience with large-scale WhatsApp rollouts. 

If you’re wondering how to get started with a chatbot for an NGO, reach out to one of our experts today.

In order to improve the interaction process between restaurant holders and their clients, Fetchh knew they needed to create something unique and innovative.

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fetchh

Fetchh is an English chatbot startup, who’s Facebook Messenger chatbot was created for café lovers who did not want to wait in line or miss out on the freshly baked, first come first serve dishes.

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Most days you are rushing through life, the modern world demands it. The faster a transaction can happen, the happier everyone is. Which is why Fetchh knew they needed to solve the proble of people wasting time waiting in resturant and cafe queues. Waiting to order their favorite foods or even having to download multiple apps is unnecessary for ordering food.

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The goal was to simplify the process of managing restaurants, making it easier for the cafe owners, employees and even the market stall owners.

The goal was to solve the problem of clients wasting their valuable time waiting in queues.

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Fetchh started looking for a company that could help them create a product that would fix this growing problem. After doing their research, they discovered BotsCrew and knew their knowledge of the restaurant industry was a perfect match. Fetchh trusted the team and knew they could fully rely on them during the development process.

fetchh

BotsCrew is the global leader in Chatbot Development with offices in London, UK, and Lviv, Ukraine. Founded in 2016, BotsCrew designs and develops custom AI chatbots to help small and medium enterprises bring stellar customer experience to their markets.

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With a relationship built on trust, BotsCrew and Fetchh collaborated as teams and discussed the different possibilties for the future of the chatbot. After many discussions and ideas from both Fetchh and BotsCrew, the teams where about to create a product that brings true value to the restuarant industry.

Fetchh Facebook Messenger Chatbot: a mashup of social, mobile, and instant messaging power – which is exactly the direction that marketing is going in.

A great solution for people who have a busy life and very little time, it is a cashless process and is a quick and easy pickup experience for anyone who uses it. It also makes it easier to follow café and market trends, so you always know what is fresh, new, or straight out of the oven. Automation and optimization of the whole working process.

fetchh

Chatbots are equally popular among millennials and baby boomers.

Mobile Markers
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Originally, BotsCrew started the development process with the solution being one simple functionality: one chatbot for one restaurant, where you can view the menu, place your order and pay for your food. However, once the project got started and ideas began to flow, they decided to go further and make a platform for multiple restaurants. BotsCrew and Fetchh had the vision for this bot to be useful for both the customers and the owners of the restaurant, and so they divided Fetchh into a user bot and an admin bot.

Fetchh had no doubts and trusted BotsCrew to create a UX design that they knew would be the best for this chatbot and that Fetchh would love.

The result is a unique and innovative chatbot that is now starting to become popular. In fact, if you want to chat with Fetchh, you can do so here.

Fetchh may be connected to one Facebook page, but in a single chatbot it unites a lot of restaurants. It is without a doubt one of the most prospective startups because it reduces and takes away routine work and due to this, it helps improve the interaction process between a customer and their favorite café.

Read more case studies here.

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

References:
https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/canada-s-jobless-rate-soars-to-13-per-cent-in-april-1.4930397
https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/who-launches-a-chatbot-powered-facebook-messenger-to-combat-covid-19-misinformation
https://mobilesyrup.com/2020/05/10/toronto-official-covid-19-chatbot/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563214002647
https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-chatbots-can-help-with-covid-19-5070338
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0706743719828977
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/337588