The Department of Human Services in Australia has been using digital assistants on their website to answer simple questions and help people complete their claims for family and student payments online, without having to pick up the phone.
The aim of the digital assistants is to reduce the number of errors in claims and occasions where people are asked to clarify or provide further information while their claim is being processed.
Digital assistant ‘Sam’ is part of the Government’s AU$1 billion investment in the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) programme. The WPIT Program is transforming the way Government delivers welfare payments, and will replace the Department’s existing processes and systems that support the delivery of more than AU$100 billion in welfare payments annually.
The department has also developed another recipient facing assistant called ‘Oliver’.
According to the press release, since their launch this year, ‘Sam’ has had more than 135,000 conversations with families and students and ‘Oliver’ has handled 191,000 interactions with students.
In addition to recipient facing assistants, ‘Sam’ and ‘Oliver’, processing staff can use ‘Roxy’, who answers complex questions about Student, Carer and Age Pension claims accurately, saving staff from having to search through legislation to locate the answer.
Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge said the creation of digital assistants is another key initiative to help citizens interact with Centrelink more easily and conveniently.
Minister Tudge said, "We are continually improving the welfare system to make it easier and simpler to interact with Centrelink. The use of digital assistants is a big development using the most sophisticated technology available. It means that people can get answers fast online and not have to phone a call centre."
"Along with the 250 new call centre staff and other initiatives, the digital assistants will also help to reduce call wait times by eliminating thousands of calls," he added.