Meet Kamu, the virtual agent helping to streamline Finland’s immigration application process
The Finnish Immigration Service (Maahanmuuttovirasto, or Migri for short) originally launched its virtual agent Kamu on the boost.ai platform in May 2018. Developed in collaboration with Accenture Finland, its goal was to provide a convenient, always accessible channel for immigrants and civil servants to find answers to common questions related to immigration.
Migri typically makes over 90,000 decisions a year on a variety of immigration-related topics including residence permits, asylum cases and citizenship applications. Its customer service line sees high volumes of traffic year-round, often from people looking for information on similar topics that, while important, can take up time for human agents to answer.
This made Migri a perfect candidate for customer service automation through conversational AI. With Kamu, visitors to the Migri website can find the answers they are looking for, leaving human agents free to tackle more complex queries. Kamu also leverages boost.ai’s advanced Natural Language Understanding allowing it to intelligently identify when it doesn’t understand a particular question and offers to seamlessly transfer the user to a live chat agent, complete with a chat log.
"The strategy of the Finnish Immigration Service is based on the values of innovation, responsibility and influence,” says Arto Airaksinen, Project Manager at Migri. “Over its three-year history of providing continuous advice to the Service’s customers, our chatbot Kamu has perfectly embodied these values — and got better every year.”
At the start of the project in 2017, Migri’s customer service phone line was struggling to keep up with call volume, only able to answer around 20% of all incoming calls. By the second half of 2018, Migri had identified that Kamu had contributed significantly to turning this number around thanks to the virtual agent’s ability to automate high volumes of interactions at scale, helping to increase the call center’s answer rate to around 75%.
Boost.ai and Accenture have made it possible to harness world-class conversational AI technology to serve our customers.
— Arto Airaksinen, Project Manager, Migri
“As we now celebrate Kamu turning three years, we can also celebrate the teams who created Kamu and remember all the stories from getting the vision, innovating together, and delivering. It is great to see how virtual agents grow and develop their ability to serve peoplein their needs.” says Konstantin Vdovenko, Managing Director, Health & Public Service at Accenture.
Kamu is also integrated into the world’s first virtual agent network, a cooperative initiative between Accenture, boost.ai and the Finnish government that connects Kamu with the corresponding virtual agents of the Finnish Tax Administration and the Patent and Registration Office. Able to seamlessly transfer between each bot from a single chat window, this helps streamline the process for foreign entrepreneurs interested in establishing a new business in Finland and falls in line with the national Aurora AI program.
“Kamu’s siblings in the Virtual Agent Network -family are PatRek and VeroBot, which together form a significant step towards ‘Finland as a service’ and a full ‘Living Service of the Government’, that helps public agencies to deliver customer-centric and adaptable experiences which build trust between governments and people.” says Vdovenko.
Amongst the many queries that Kamu answers daily regarding various immigration-related topics, the most commonly asked question by users is about the status of a pending application - a key piece of the overall immigration process.
Migri identified this as an opportunity to further improve the user experience by allowing the virtual agent to dynamically display the position of any application in the overall queue.
The boost.ai platform made it easy for Kamu to interface with Migri’s existing backend systems via a JSON component - a lightweight and convenient method of sending and receiving data. In Finland, the immigration application process is a matter of public record and, therefore, no user authentication is required to retrieve the data.
This means that a user simply needs to ask Kamu about the status of an application, provide the relevant application number and the virtual agent will display how far along in the queue the application is and how many other applicants remain before it can be reviewed. This helps to provide an accurate timeline of when users can expect a response to any given application.
The popularity of this integration helped to double the overall traffic to Kamu within the first week of it going live. Proving that, by identifying and tackling use cases that appealed to its users, Migri was able to use conversational AI and the boost.ai platform to go beyond simply answering FAQs and enhance the overall customer experience.
A sentiment that Airaksinen echoes: “By providing our team with the necessary tools and support to implement the use cases that are most useful to us, Boost.ai and Accenture have made it possible to harness world-class conversational AI technology to serve our customers."