Friday, December 2, 2022

City of Williamsburg automates customer service with new online tool

Residents can text Citibot to request service, report issues or ask a question. (WYDaily/Courtesy Citibot)
Residents can text Citibot to request service, report issues or ask a question. (WYDaily/Courtesy Citibot)

The city of Williamsburg is now using artificial intelligence to help serve residents.

The city’s website has a new tool called Citibot, a news release from the city indicated. Residents can submit questions or requests directly on the city’s website and receive immediate automated results.

Each page on the website now has a chat icon that users can click when they need assistance.

After clicking the icon, a pop-up prompts users to ask a question, send a service request or report an issue. After submitting their query, Citibot provides users with links to relevant pages of the city website or informs them that it has submitted a work requests to a city department.

The program uses machine learning to improve its answers. As more people ask questions and provide feedback, Citibot will respond more accurately.

If Citibot is unable to answer a question, residents may contact a city staff member for assistance by clicking the “message” button.

Residents have been able to chat with Citibot via text message since February 2018. The service is still available, and can be accessed by saying “hello” to 757-245-1175.

“We think citizens will find this chatbot to be far more accessible than the current text version,” said Mark Barham, the city’s director of Information Technology. “With the text version, you need to know the number and remember that it’s an available service. The Chatbot is always on the corner of the City website, no matter the page, and is front and center with people.”

The city said it is the first locality in the nation to use the Citibot web platform.

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