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How Proto chatbots help the Philippine government deliver No Wrong Door service to citizens

5

min

Manila, Philippines

Effective information sharing across departments and agencies is a challenge for any government, no matter how small the country. This is particularly true for government services with high volumes of messaging and citizen cases, where service complexity, multiple languages, and private sector compliance can slow down results and cause frustration for citizens. 

In the Philippines, the Consumer Act (Republic Act 7394) mandates a No Wrong Door policy, which requires Proto’s government clients such as the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) to “accommodates all the calls, text messages, emails, tweets, [and] posts concerning product and service inquiries and reports and immediately acts on them, whether it is under its jurisdiction or [other agencies],” according to DTI Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary Atty. Teodoro C. Pascua. 

Previously, departments in the Philippines government contended with siloed information systems that made it difficult to forward citizen cases to the responsible agency. Often, similarities in government services – such as those offered by the central bank, securities exchange and insurance commission – caused citizens to lodge complaints and queries with the incorrect agency. As a result, confused citizens would be told to restart their effort with a different agency – doubling their time cost, which may include an in-person visit, and wait times, often during the workday.  Overall, this situation excluded citizens at the bottom-of-the-pyramid, with low literacy and free-time, from receiving their required service.

The No Wrong Door policy aims to improve government responsiveness with a mandate to forward citizen cases to the right agency. For example, if a citizen seeks help from the central bank for an insurance complaint, the complaint would still be received and forwarded to the insurance commission, saving the citizen from getting lost and frustrated in the process.

Challenge to opening the No Wrong Door policy’s potential

One of the challenges to implementing the No Wrong Door policy has been the technical limitations of integrating current communication and case management systems across government agencies. For example, with no integrated or common platform for automated complaint handling, government agencies were not actually meeting the mandate set by the Consumer Act and citizens were still being told to contact the responsible agencies, with untold worthy cases not arriving at the responsible agency. 

Now, with Proto’s AI Citizen Experience (AICX) platform procured by all agencies under the DTI, the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), there is a growing framework of citizen-facing government services using centralized software for sharing cases and complying with the No Wrong Door policy.

Proto’s government chatbot deployments in the Philippines

Beyond its role as a case management system for the Philippines government, the Proto AICX platform serves citizens with chatbots for local and mixed languages, such as Tagalog, Cebuano and Taglish. These chatbots accommodate the high volume of citizen queries and cases with no additional wait times, nor repetitive manual tasks for government employees. 

In 2020, Proto deployed BSP’s chatbot via the RegTech for Regulators Accelerator’s competitive process. The initial aim was to automate BSP’s consumer complaints process to minimize the standard six month case solution process and keep pace with rapid fintech growth in the Philippines. Instead of relying on direct mail and call centers, BSP’s chatbot, named BSP Online Buddy or BOB, automated complaints handling over Webchat, SMS and Messenger.

For BSP, this meant consumer protection staff had more time to focus on case investigation and follow up rather than spending time answering simple queries. On the consumer side, it made the complaint process more accessible to underserved and marginalized groups that had previously struggled to access traditional complaint channels such as email.

Over the course of the year from 2020 to 2021, BSP’s chatbot registered almost 90,000 conversations, and sped up the complaint resolution process for financial consumers. However, automated complaint forwarding, in line with the No Wrong Door policy, required a network of other agencies with the same tools.

To this end, Proto  deployed a similar multilingual chatbot for seven agencies under the Department of Trade & Industry, which offers automated responses to frequently asked questions across seven departments. This chatbot, named Trade & Industry Assistant or TIA, covers topics such as business licenses and accreditation, consumer information and complaint processing, and investor trade agreements. The chatbot replaces an email-based system for resolving citizen inquiries, and frees up administrative staff to focus on complex queries relevant to their department.

A similar chatbot deployment for the Securities & Exchange Commission enables the automation of consumer complaints and improves access to misconduct reporting. 

Thanks to the architecture of Proto’s AICX platform, all agencies with these deployments will be able to forward cases to each other automatically without human involvement.

The future: automated citizen engagement within e-Government 

As more government agencies in the Philippines adopt Proto’s AICX platform or integrated software from other vendors, they will become automatically compliant with the No Wrong Door policy to the benefit of everyday citizens in need of assistance.

The current framework of agencies that have access to this compliance with Proto’s AICX platform offers an easy-win for the Department of Information & Communication Technology (DICT) of the Philippines, which is leading the ongoing e-Government initiative. Within this initiative, manual contact centers and siloed case handling are identified as limiting to the delivery of government services, with chatbots and automated platforms like Proto offering a key technical capability within the wider e-Government system.

Curtis Matlock is CEO of Proto. He leads globally distributed teams to achieve social impact and growth objectives in emerging markets. To reach Curtis, please write to him at curtis@proto.cx.

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