Would citizens like to use a chatbot?

01 February 2019 - Published by Renske Stumpel
What to do when you have a question for the municipality? Most answers can already be found on the municipality’s homepages, but especially young citizens do not look for information on homepages. Aalborg Municipality is looking at chatbots as a possible future contact channel for citizens to give them a 24/7 information-service and to minimize the time used by employees to answer frequently asked questions.

But the question is: Would citizens like to use a chatbot?

To answer this question, the Municipality of Aalborg engaged a consultant, PrimusMotor A/S, to conduct focus group interviews with two groups of young citizens to get their views on chatbots. Could chatbots be an alternative to the phone or a visit to the Citizen Service Center? In addition, a group of employees from the Citizen Service Center in Aalborg was interviewed to give their opinion on chatbots including the job of taking over from the chatbot if it cannot answer a question.

All three groups tested a prototype of a chatbot helping citizens with “relocation” – moving to a new home.

The key findings based on the interviews are:

  • Chatbots can only be a supplement to other channels
  • It is essential for the users to know that they are chatting with a chatbot
  • The focus groups had great expectations concerning the quality of answers and the variety of questions the chatbot should be able to answer
  • The chatbot on relocation gives the user a checklist of important things to deal with when moving to a new home. This little extra service will help promoting the chatbot as good and relevant.
  • Information security and data protection in connection with the use of chatbots are very important issues.
  • It is important that legal issues concerning responsibility of information given via the chatbot are solved.
  • The employees find that a chatbot could be of great value as an internal support for the employees.

Next step

Aalborg Municipality is working on a chatbot pilot with 35 other Danish municipalities. The findings from the focus group interviews will be used in the further development of this chatbot.