November 30, 2022
Ubiquitous in the modern world of customer service, chatbots have become smarter and nicer, according to Axios. Courts have moved from hesitation to embracing this modern technology to help court users make sense of what can sometimes be a complex justice system.
According to the JTC Quick Response Bulletin: Getting Started with a Chatbot, a “chatbot (chat+robot) is software that can simulate human conversation through text messages, voice commands, or both.” Many businesses use chatbots to increase their sales and provide better customer service. They have been using chatbots as a supplement or even replacement to live customer service.
State courts, like other entities, have suffered the effects of the Great Resignation. Many courts are operating with fewer employees because of hiring difficulties and a lack of applicants. A chatbot reduces employee labor by responding to questions that clients have instead of staff having to pause their other work to respond to calls or assist them in person. Those employees can instead focus on more complicated tasks. Chatbots are ideal for responding to frequently asked questions (FAQs).
One such chatbot is SANDI, the Miami-Dade County Courts’ new artificial intelligence-based digital navigation assistant. An acronym for Self-Help Assistant Navigator for Digital Interaction, SANDI appears in a chat window on the court’s website, can understand English and Spanish, and will support more languages in the future. SANDI helps visitors find answers to common questions and can even connect the user to a paralegal in family cases. Felix Bajandas, NCSC Principal Court Management & Technology Consultant, commented “since SANDI started, the number of calls have reduced. The avatar has an internal dashboard that provides feedback on all interactions and helps the avatar learn how to interact better. The dashboard has confirmed that interactions were useful and solved the clients’ requests successfully.”
Gina, the Los Angeles Online Traffic Avatar is another example of a chatbot. This multilanguage chatbot in the traffic section of the court’s website helps users pay a traffic ticket, register for traffic school, or schedule a court date. The court developed the chatbot internally using their own IT department. “Their deployment of chatbots simultaneously increases access to court services and reduces the burden on staff who were previously tasked with answering questions via live chat or phone.”
Is your court considering a chatbot? Share your experiences with us. For more information, contact Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164. Follow the National Center for State Courts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Vimeo.