How a bot calmed Queenslanders during the pandemic12th June 2021
Queensland Health’s communications team deployed a custom-built chatbot during the pandemic to help them deal with the massive influx of questions from the public.
The department found itself on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus, not just in hospitals and medical centres but on phones and over the internet, as a nervous public turned to official channels for any information about what was happening.
Queensland Health creative, social and digital media manager Elise Meakin said they experienced a 100-fold increase on the volume of inquiries in the early days of the pandemic, from people seeking information about some aspect of the disease or the response to it.
“We were inundated, with private messages specifically. We saw a 100-fold increase in our private messages, and it just wasn’t sustainable for us to respond to everybody individually,” Ms Meakin said.
“That’s not ideal because it’s a crisis situation. People are looking for any information they can get, and from reputable sources.”
Between January and April last year, engagement across Queensland Health’s social media platforms soared by 450 per cent in a matter of months, with 3.9 million comments, reactions, clicks and shares, and more than 10,000 private messages in a single month.
Hiring more people and training them on procedures would have taken too much time and still wouldn’t have made up the shortfall in capacity.
Instead, Ms Meakin and the department turned to a smarter solution – an AI chatbot.
“We worked with an external agency called inGenious, which specialises in developing chatbots, so we took them up on that and scrambled as quickly as we could,” she said.