The Department of Human Services has added a fifth Microsoft Cortana-powered chatbot to its armoury to deal with questions pertaining to the myGov government services portal.
The new digital assistant, dubbed ‘Charles’, will give the more than 14 million users that currently use the central authentication platform instant access to answers for common customer queries.
Charles, which operates in both myGov's authenticated and unauthenticated space, will provide information about creating an account, linking new services and what to do if an account is locked or suspended.
It is the latest chatbot to be rolled out by the department for frontline service delivery as part of its billion-dollar Centrelink payment systems overhaul - welfare payment infrastructure transformation (WPIT) program.
Two other public facing assistants, named ‘Sam’ and ‘Oliver’, already exist for customer and channel management at the department.
Sam answers general questions that customers might have about the students, trainees and families payments pages of DHS’ website, while Oliver is used for student claims through myGov.
In the last year and a half, the two assistants have answered more than two million questions.
They follow the success of the department’s internal virtual assistant ‘Roxy’, which went live in October 2016 to assist staff deal with complex questions about the processing student, carer and aged claims.
A second internal assistant named ‘Gus’ has since been introduced for departmental staff.
Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said the rollout of assistants such as Charles improve the department's interactions with citizens, freeing up staff to focus on more complex matters.
“Digital assistants provide enormous convenience to myGov account holders who are now able to access the information they need without having to pick up a phone or come into an office,” Keenan said.
“The assistants are also helping to ease the strain on our phone lines, giving our staff more time to assist customers who need greater support with complex queries.”
myGov currently provides access to 11 federal and state government services, including Centrelink, Medicare and the My Health Record.
With the increasing need to centre digital service around life events and create less fragmentation across the government, the Digital Transformation Agency has begun looking at designing a future platform that offers proactive services that correspond to milestone events in citizens' lives.