Image provided by STCHealthA few years ago, STCHealth, a vaccine intelligence company headquartered in Phoenix, AZ, realized it was getting overwhelmed with consumers’ questions. They didn’t have the support team in place to meet such high demand. That’s when their VP of Customer success began researching chatbot technology to help solve this problem.
“He looked into what applications were out there and what kind of services that we needed. This is how we discovered conversational marketing platform Botco.ai,” explained Michelle Bonjour, STCHealth’s Director of Consumer Engagement.
STCHealth provides vaccine data, insights, and information to public and private entities. Its clients include business and government entities including state health departments who use its technology to provide vaccine and immunization data to consumers. It also works with over 60% of US pharmacies who use its software as a backend solution to report data to the CDC.
STCHealth’s flagship product, My Immunization Record (e.g., MyIR Mobile,) lets consumers access their own immunization records from any mobile device. As an added service to state entities who use the MyIR app, STCHealth fields phone calls from healthcare consumers trying to access their immunization records from the app.
Answering a million questionsWith about 145 employees total, and roughly 20 on the consumer support team, automation was the only way STCHealth could keep up with the large volume of consumer questions related to accessing immunization records across 9 different states.
Within the last year itself, over a million consumers have accessed the MyIR platform. “Before working with Botco.ai, our ability to answer every question in a timely way was limited,” said Bonjour.
Botco.ai is an automated, AI-powered conversational marketing platform that works with many companies in the healthcare space (it is HIPAA-compliant). Before onboarding the tool, STCHealth had no process in place to cover the increasing volume of calls they were receiving on behalf of their clients.
When a consumer in one of STCHealth’s covered states wants to access their vaccine information and records, they log into MyIR.com. That pings their state health department for their vaccine Information.
Said Bonjour, “There’s a point where a consumer may get stuck and can’t find their information. That’s when a chatbot we call Athena will pop up and engage with them.”
Image provided by STCHealth“Athena directs them down a workflow based on the question they have,” explained Bonjour. “Botco’s been great at helping us work through what process and steps we want to take in guiding the consumer to the answer.”
Using intelligent chatbots to get consumers unstuckSTCHealth has been using Botco.ai for about two years in conjunction with their MyIR product. They train each support person on how to use the tool, pairing them up with a senior employee that sits on calls and works through the process of answering the consumer’s question.
Training the technology to respond appropriately to inquiries is an ongoing process. As more and more questions come in, the chatbot gets better at answering them or redirecting inquiries to the human support team.
Said Bonjour, “As questions come in, the chatbot gets smarter. The training is ongoing, but once a client is set up with the tool, we work through issues and review the numbers to refine its responses.”
Refining and optimizing chatbot performance could mean moving the chatbot to a different page or retooling the workflow process so that Athena is more or less prominent, depending on how soon or often consumers are interacting with it.
“We work with Botco’s team to figure this out,” explained Bonjour. “The training is continuous. Having some analytics and feedback is definitely helpful for us. Before that, we really didn’t have a whole lot. Just from the get-go we recognized we needed something, we implemented it, and we’re continuing to improve it move forward.”
2 million consumers served — 52,000 human hours savedSTCHealth uses chatbot technology as the first line of defense to alleviate the burden on their support team and guide consumers through the process of retrieving their immunization records. If Athena can’t answer a specific question, the consumer is routed to STCHealth’s support team.
They currently have nine states that use the chatbot feature and they work with each state to figure out what point in the process the state needs them to take over. “Mostly what happens is the state manages these requests, but they contract with us to figure out how they want to manage it,” said Bonjour.
Within the last year, STCHealth has received over 2 million chatbot interactions, with over 630,000 inquiries initiated to the chat in the last quarter alone.
“That would’ve been 630,000 potential phone call or emails, with each one taking anywhere from three to five minutes to address,” said Bonjour. “That’s roughly 52,000 hours saved.”
Without the Athena fielding calls, consumers would either sit on hold or they’d send an email and wait until a support person could got back to them.
“With the capacity that we’re at now, we’ve been hiring like crazy to try and help people get access to the records. It’s hard to find people and get them up to speed and trained, so without the chatbot they either have to wait or call back and try again,” said Bonjour.
Bonjour notes that the timing for adopting this new technology was really important, but it also wasn’t an accident since they recognized an increasing demand in consumer inquiries.
“We saw the need go up and up before the pandemic and we decided to do something about it. Then the pandemic hit and we were prepared. My advice to anyone considering a new technology would be that if you’re thinking about doing something like this, it’s helpful to go ahead and start that process even though it might be a little bit painful at first. On the back end, once you get it in place, you’re ready and not scrambling. If we had to start this process when the pandemic hit, it would have been a nightmare.”
About The Author
Jacqueline Dooley is a freelance B2B content writer and journalist covering martech industry news and trends. Since 2018, she’s worked with B2B-focused agencies, publications, and direct clients to create articles, blog posts, whitepapers, and eBooks. Prior to that, Dooley founded Twelve Thousand, LLC where she worked with clients to create, manage, and optimize paid search and social campaigns.