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Ubisend Helps Ombudsman Services Triage Questions With a Chatbot

Business Insider reported three years ago that 80% of businesses will invest in chatbots by 2020. And it was not alone in making such predictions. So, where do we stand with this technology? Who is using chatbots and where? Read on to find out.

I recently saw a demonstration by ubisend, a British chatbot company whose customers include Google, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, NHS Digital, and others. Ubisend presented a couple of examples of where it has helped to deploy chatbots.

One client is Ombudsman Services, a UK organization that helps consumers and businesses to resolve complaints and settle disputes with communications and energy companies. It typically receives very lengthy inquiries (500-1,000 words) that are either a complaint or a request for information. You can imagine the time it takes to read, understand, and direct each request, especially complaints, which comprise 70% of the messages Ombudsman Services receive.

The chatbot that ubisend built for Ombudsman Services tackles the triage directly: it asks the user first to specify whether the request is a complaint or a request for information/advice:

Source: Chatbots & Customer Service: Your 2020 Action Plan webinar, ubisend, December 17, 2019.

Then it progresses through the decision tree. If it is a complaint, for example, several buckets are displayed: energy, communications, Heat Trust, Green Deal, parking, etc., mirroring the internal structure at Ombudsman Services:

Source: Chatbots & Customer Service: Your 2020 Action Plan webinar, ubisend, December 17, 2019.

Alternatively, users can type in their complaint:


Source: Chatbots & Customer Service: Your 2020 Action Plan webinar, ubisend, December 17, 2019.

This process mirrors the internal triage process at Ombudsman Services.

Another important step is that the consumer must first file a formal complaint with the original service supplier and wait eight weeks before raising it with Ombudsman Services (to give the supplier sufficient time to respond). Many consumers are unaware of this requirement, and so this is the second question the chatbot asks right after “Have you filed a formal complaint?”: “Has it been 8 weeks?” If the requisite time has passed, depending on the question, the chatbot directs the consumer to the relevant unit at Ombudsman Services.

The benefits are obvious: consumers have instant contact and get instant answers. And for tricky issues the fallback is always, of course, to direct them to a human. Ombudsman Services is clearly able to better handle incoming inquiries. But there’s another significant benefit at the back end: while all inbound communications are channeled to the chatbot, they are also fed into the internal ticketing systems, where they are recorded and analyzed, saving human resources for the trickiest questions and freeing them from wasting everybody’s time on questions for which they should already know the answers, for example, who is speaking, what is the issue, and contact information.

Our Take

Since consumers have enthusiastically embraced chatbots in the past few years, we will see more and more businesses deploying virtual assistants and chatbots. And while we are nowhere near the 80% adoption figure, chatbot vendors think we could reach it in 2021-22.


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