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Automating Crisis Communication in the Face of the Coronavirus Epidemic – Best Practices

Automating Crisis Communication in the Face of the Coronavirus Epidemic – Best Practices

Mariusz Pełechaty 19.03.2020
Mariusz Pełechaty

The whole world is afraid of the coronavirus and the damaging consequences it’s causing. Due to this peculiar “earthquake”, business and administration officials are trying to find their way in the new reality. The current situation is a huge challenge for customer, passenger, and resident service departments – for all those who want to get answers and dispel their fears when access to institutions and offices is limited. Companies and local governments take this problem very seriously. Reorganizing communication with their employees and clients poses new challenges. To quickly respond to the information needs of their recipients, they have to use their own communication channels and technology.

We’ve been working very closely with our clients for several days, updating chatbot conversation scenarios in our automated communication system. Some of them had to undergo complete reconstruction. We’re constantly updating data and training our NLP engine with phrases related to the coronavirus. Thanks to this, we’re able to respond even more quickly and effectively to the needs of recipients.

Last week was definitely the most challenging time in the history of our company. We’re extremely glad that the work we’ve put into the implemented projects paid off, relieving many people of customer service responsibilities. Today, we want to share the best practices of companies from various sectors – companies, with which we work on a daily basis. We’ll show you how to use automated communication technology to provide critical coronavirus information with the help of messengers, websites, and intranets.

What matters is the quality of communication processes 

Business resilience in the face of an epidemic threat entails not only providing people with the opportunity of remote work and adapting in-house procedures to the crisis. It is also manifested in efficient and fast communication that doesn’t require human assistance.

The ability to quickly respond to problems has become the top priority of business leaders in every industry. The good news is that technology makes things a lot easier and speeds up many processes. I chose 4 case studies to show you how different organizations can use our system to automate their communication – in just a few hours.

Wroclaw city automates its communication with residents

Wroclaw is one of the cities most affected by the coronavirus. To respond to residents’ information needs, we changed the original concept of the chatbot and – in just a few hours – we produced a solution entirely dedicated to the coronavirus epidemic.

The chatbot operates on wroclaw.pl, a special portal dedicated to the coronavirus and the City Council’s Facebook Messenger. This is the first virtual assistant used by a Polish local government that extensively covers the subject of the epidemic.

Chatbot Urzędu Miejskiego Wrocław
The chatbot on Wroclaw City Council’s website

Thanks to the chatbot, Wroclaw residents can:

  • stay informed about the coronavirus,
  • sign up for daily notifications,
  • learn how to protect themselves against the virus,
  • learn how to spend time at home,
  • find out where to order a meal as part of the #WrocławNaWynos action,
  • see how to get psychological help,
  • find out how seniors can handle shopping,
  • find answers to frequently asked questions about the coronavirus and its impact on the city.
Chatbot Miasta Wrocław
The chatbot on the Wroclaw City Council’s Facebook Messenger

Employees above all

Jeronimo Martins Polska is the largest private employer in Poland, which contacts 67 thousand employees via its chatbot. Last week, it used the tool to publish information about the epidemic. The information is based on FAQs asked by employees that concern the supermarket chain and the security of each employee. Employees can access it by logging in to a special account.

Chatbot Jeronimo Martins Polska
Changes in the chatbot – on the website and the intranet of Jeronimo Martins Polska

Wroclaw airport is in constant contact with its customers

Shortly after Wroclaw Airport announced the suspension of international flights, we removed Skyscanner (a search engine that finds flight connections and available destinations) from the chatbot. We made changes in flight status updates and added information to tell users where to look for available air connections. We react as quickly as we can and continuously introduce the necessary changes to be in constant contact with the airport’s passengers.

Chatbot wrocławskiego lotniska
Changes in the Wroclaw Airport chatbot

Unity Line reacts in an instant

The structure of Unity Line’s chatbot was changed by 180% after the company announced the suspension of international cruises. We turned all intents and carousels off, and the only message sent by the tool directs users to a special website that serves as an information base. Additionally, users can sign up for notifications to receive the latest news and updates on the current coronavirus situation.

Chatbot Unity Line
Changes in the Unity Line chatbot

How to answer user questions during the pandemic? Automatically!

Automated communication does not stop the coronavirus from spreading. Still, many companies use it to manage crisis communication and to adapt available contact channels to the needs of clients and employees.

After we made changes in our clients’ chatbots, the bots have correctly interpreted 90% and exhaustively answered 60% of user questions.

What’s more, together with most of our clients, we’re working on additional sales-support activities – to be prepared for any further business difficulties.

The health crisis has shown how much companies are prone to unpredictable external circumstances. By using the latest technologies that enable intelligent automation of communication processes, organizations can stay in touch with employees, ensure their safety, and effectively respond to client questions without having to engage consultants.