13 November 2020 at 9:00 am

Getting started with chatbots

Education New Zealand has put together an instructional whitepaper on how we created our chatbot, Tohu, for providers looking to implement their own.

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ENZ is the only country in the world that uses a chatbot to market to prospective international students.

Tohu is a helpful little bot that sits on Study in New Zealand, NauMai NZ, and the Study in New Zealand Facebook page.

It answers questions on everything from applying for a visa to what you can do for fun in New Zealand. It gives prospective students an answer to most of their questions immediately, freeing up ENZ’s social media team so they can focus on other projects.

ENZ’s Director of Planning, Jamie Crump, has developed a whitepaper with ENZ’s chatbot agency partner, Theta, which lays out a framework for developing a chatbot.

The five-step framework draws on Jamie’s Master of Technological Futures report, and is based on ENZ’s development of Tohu.

Because ENZ staff can train Tohu on new information at any time, the bot is a versatile tool in our social engagement team’s toolbox. So far, Tohu has been utilised in the Ask New Anything campaign, and has most recently learnt new answers on the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand.

“Prior to Tohu, with a social media team of two, it could take up to 24 hours for someone to get a response to their question. Now they can get an immediate response, and we know that Tohu can answer more than 80 percent of the most common questions,” ENZ International Social Media Manager, Nicole Baird, says.

“So the team can spend time answering the specific questions, and doing more of the strategic things for our Facebook channel, rather than answering the same straightforward questions repeatedly.”

Jamie’s initial research revealed that many people already like engaging with a chatbot, and that more and more consumers are using chatbots as a way of finding out information. For example, 48 percent of people would rather connect with a company via live chat than any other means of contact.

Tohu is integrated with ENZ’s marketing database and automation software, Marketo. Instead of completing a form, students can sign up to the receive updates from Study In New Zealand or NauMai NZ. This feature also opens up possibilities for Tohu to become a more targeted, useful channel for prospective students.

“The logical next step is personalisation of the chat experience, and that’s something we’re looking forward to exploring with Theta,” Jamie says.

Read Get started with chatbots: A proven framework for chatbot implementation

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