Have a Bescom issue? AI-powered chatbots will soon answer you

As complaints of power cuts continue to pour in even before the onset of summer, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) is preparing to put in place a new army — AI (artificial intelligence)-powered chatbots — to deal with the innumerable calls and messages that its multiple helplines receive. Bescom officials said the chatbots will be the first line of interaction with consumers, which will help avoid calls going unanswered. The power utility has called for an Expression of Interest from IT service providers to implement the idea on its social media pages, helpline and app. “Chatbots are interactive. When there are power cuts, consumers want to talk to someone from Bescom. Some consumers are not able to get through the helplines. We plan to have AI-powered bots that give responses to the given context. If the consumer still needs to talk to a staffer, they will be directed to one,” explained a Bescom official. The chatbots are expected to be utilised in multiple interfaces, such as WhatsApp, social media, and the website. In different languages Among the criteria specified by the power utility for the chatbots are the ability to interact with text, and voice input and output; output in multiple languages such as English, Kannada, and Hindi; the ability to “understand sentiment and tone during the interaction; and to handle a minimum of 10,000 concurrent requests on all interfaces independently. “We are hoping to finalise this in a month or two, and in time for the summer season,” the official added. According to Bescom, on an average, the help centre receives around 9,000 calls a day, which gets higher during the monsoon season. “This includes not just power-supply related issues, but billing and safety issues. ,” explained an official. Consumer groups, while welcoming the move, said it was necessary to periodically test its efficacy. Y.G. Muralidharan from the Karnataka Electricity Governance Network said, “Using technology is one way of becoming more user-friendly. At the same time, Bescom should check how efficiently it is working. It will add to its expenditure. They need to look at how many people are using it. Bescom should interact with consumers about existing machinery before introducing a new one.”

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/have-a-bescom-issue-ai-powered-chatbots-will-soon-answer-you/article26032812.ece

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