Can MCCY’s new chatbot for Hungry Ghost Festival ‘Woo’ in consumers?

Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) has created a chatbot via Facebook called “Mr Woo” in tandem with the annual Hungry Ghost Festival.

Mr Woo aims to interact and educate users who have inquiries about the festival. In a press statement, the ministry said that Mr Woo will be able to provide information on the festival’s origins and practices while the knowledge was consulted by religious leaders from Buddhist and Taoist faiths. On his own Facebook page, Mr Woo posts images of himself “living” as a spirit in Singapore with catchy captions.

MCCY told ST that the use of digital tools was to grow the understanding of Singapore’s cultural heritage. This was not the first chatbot seen in Singapore as most recently, government agency Reach had engaged an interactive chatbot on its website for Singapore to share their feedback during the National Day Rally.

In a conversation with Marketing, Prantik Mazumdar, managing partner of Happy Marketer said that this is now a growing trend, and a few Singapore government agencies are latching onto the chatbot bandwagon with the most popular being Heritage Granny. Heritage Granny which allows Singaporean’s to interact with a chatty senior-like chatbot to learn about Singapore’s heritage.

In terms of the business objective towards the use of chatbot, Mazumdar said the contemporary, modern, automated and AI-driven communication platform is created to engage with millennial citizens to inform, educate and inspire them about new government led initiatives and policies.

“Chatbots are a two-way medium, allowing government agencies are able to collect user behaviour data. This could be utilised as research data and feedback to augment future initiatives,” he said. He added that live and active chatbots can also be used to disseminate information about events and public policy led initiatives. Government agencies can involve citizens to get feedback to better aid in policies. Mazumdar added that chatbots need to have “unique and refreshing” personalities to “humanise” them and make them more engaging.

Marketing also spoke to Preetham Venkky, director of KRDS Digital who said that most chatbots are developed to handle business requirements such as for engagement, customer service, FAQs and even for lead generations and appointments. He added that bots are a “great bridge” between a website and a mobile app.

They are ideal for multi-touch user journeys.

“With a proprietary framework, bots can be implemented successfully,” Venkky added. He also said that before developing a bot, it is important to address the methods of driving users to the bot, the uses of the bot and also how to drive users to form continuous interaction with the bot.

Ensuring success

According to a 2017 report by Forrester titled “Chatbots are transforming marketing”, while 57% of companies either already use chatbots or plan to do so, most chatbots still fail. The report noted that despite the buzz around chatbot, the technology is still at a “very early stage” and the success of today’s chatbots are primarily driven by keywords instead of machine learning. Also, many chatbots do not have an established procedure to handover to a human, resulting in consumers being frustrated.

With a proprietary framework, bots can be implemented successfully, Venkky added. He also said that before developing a bot, it is important to address the methods of driving users to the bot, the uses of the bot and also how to drive users to form continuous interaction with the bot.

During an earlier conference held by Marketing, Manisha Seewal former CMO of Tokio Marine said that many chatbots today fail because companies do not have a clearly defined purpose or have overly ambitious goals about the use of chatbots. Often, they end up launching a bot before they are ready.  She added that the chatbot will only learn when more consumers begin interacting with it, and only then will the company be able to improve the content that spewed out by the bot.

(Read also: What is causing you chatbots to fail?)

(Photo courtesy: Mr Woo Facebook page)

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