Codecool's customer support using Talk-a-Bot

Innovation

Since March, nearly 1,000 people have tried Coolbot, the chatbot of Codecool Programming School. The chatbot, developed by Hungarian Talk-A-Bot, will soon be available at Codecool's Austrian and Romanian schools, which will also help to relieve the local customer service.

Hundreds of people are currently studying online or in classroom training at Codecool. In a strong month, the number of enrolments can reach up to a hundred. This is coupled with the fact that dozens of people a day are interested in the details of the training, via email, phone, social media sites or even in person, for example at recruitment events and open days organized specifically for this purpose.

Although Codecool's website provides the latest information on all training courses - and tries to summarize the information in the most detailed way possible, with personal examples and a customer-focused approach - there are still a lot of additional questions from interested parties.

"Deciding to change careers is a commitment where it is understandable that candidates expect to be fully informed. Some people are convinced by the human voice alone, others are reluctant to call us and prefer to see all the peripheral conditions in writing, and if possible, right at the moment the question arises," says József Boda, co-founder, and CEO of Codecool.

However, this ties up significant resources in the organization, which is why Codecool decided to offload the work of the customer service department, which handles student recruitment and information, by setting up an online chatbot.

"Coolbot is important for us not only because our team includes many Codecool graduates, but also because we have built our own artificial intelligence system into the chatbot, which significantly increases the efficiency of the tool. In addition, Codecool is an excellent example of how chatbot technology is now not only an efficient tool for large enterprises but can also be operated economically by an SME", said Ákos Deliága, founder and CEO of Talk-A-Bot.

The chat module, named Coolbot, offers up-to-date information on Codecool's training courses in 15 topics and 50 sub-topics, broken down into paragraphs. People can access the needed information by using menu options and answer choices, or by asking simpler questions directly. In such cases, the system will offer the most appropriate answer by recognizing keywords or even ready-made sentences. One can even ask questions such as "How much can I earn with this?".

While a chatbot is not a substitute for a chat room host, the developers of Talk-A-Bot have also prepared Coolbot with a number of pertinent answers to questions that are often asked by enthusiastic visitors. One can even ask it if it's a boy or a girl, how it feels about its own abilities, and what to expect in terms of weather.

The chatbot is able to handle questions not strictly related to the programming school's program as well. The first question reads "Are you a boy or a girl?", to which Coolbot responds, "I'm a robot, a machine, so I do not have a gender." The second question asks the chatbot whether it is stupid, to which it answers "I'm sorry, I am a robot, I'm trying very hard, so please be patient with me."

Of course, the real benefit of Coolbot is not to entertain visitors, but to provide up-to-date and accurate information, regardless of the time of day.

"After the first few months, the recruitment staff in charge of customer service functions have seen an average 15% reduction in load on Codecool's other information channels, while 800 conversations have already taken place with the indefatigable Coolbot," says Krisztina Csepely, Codecool's head of student recruitment and customer service. "The hours freed up can be used by Codecool's people for on-boarding new students and supporting those who are entering the real world of corporate development after theoretical training."

The success of Coolbot's design is also evidenced by the fact that no major changes to the operating mechanism or the algorithm that handles the responses have been necessary in recent months. The developers, known in the trade as "botanists", only needed to implement a few updates and fine-tune some common questions from the client side.

With its current knowledge, Coolbot is able to navigate people through to the application interface, to a complete understanding of each course, and if necessary, connect the client with a live person via email. Codecool plans to entrust Coolbot with more serious tasks, up to the conclusion of the study contract: for example, the entry-level English language test, logical pre-screening, and even the integration of other admission procedures by adding personal identification.

Before that, Romanian and Austrian language mutations and local training information will be added. However, training, mentoring, and support in successfully finding a job in the labor market will remain the responsibility of Codecool's staff.

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