Auckland, New Zealand - 12 MAY, 2020 - New Zealand veterinary clinics coping with Covid-19 conditions now have access to a Digital Employee – one that’s willing to work 24/7 without a break.
Virtual Vet Nurse is a conversational chatbot (or Digital Employee), developed with Kiwi-grown technology, that’s being launched this week.
New Zealand has a number of conversational chatbots – including the likes of Air New Zealand’s “Oscar” – but so far, they’ve been the domain of large corporates. However “Sophie” the Virtual Vet Nurse can be deployed within any New Zealand vet clinic, where she can be cloned with a new name and gender.
“We felt the veterinary profession was a natural fit for this technology,” says Dr Steve Merchant, a veterinarian who teamed up with Ambit, a Conversational AI company, to develop Virtual Vet Nurse.
Dr Merchant was a co-founder of the Pet Doctors Group, which was New Zealand’s largest group of companion animal clinics; and is a past-President of the New Zealand Veterinary Association.
“There are around 450 vet clinics in New Zealand,” he says. “They are mostly SME-sized businesses that operate with high overheads – they’re essentially providing mini-hospitals, but unlike human healthcare, they receive no subsidies. Using a Digital Employee is one way for clinics to gain extra team members, for a low cost.”
Dr Merchant says while a Digital Employee can never replace the skills of a human vet nurse, they can provide a range of support.
“We’ve designed Sophie to be the first point-of-contact for client enquiries… she can make bookings, organise repeat prescriptions, and answer some general pet care questions. Like any new employee, she’s learning on the job.”
Research shows that 80% of client enquiries are for the same 20 or fewer questions; and that 49% of consumers would rather use a messaging app than a phone call to communicate with a business.
In addition to answering routine questions and carrying out admin tasks, a Digital Employee becomes ‘smarter’ over time. They use artificial intelligence to offer more sophisticated conversations, in human-like language that is easy for the consumer to engage with.
Tim Warren, the CEO of Ambit, says the launch of Virtual Vet Nurse is something of a first for the conversational AI industry in New Zealand.
“We’re excited to be part of the journey with Virtual Vet Nurse, which will help support vets in running their business, and provide their clients with another channel of communication,” says Tim.
“Recent events with Covid have really highlighted the potential for this technology. And for those of us with pets, we look forward to a frictionless experience with our local vets.”
Virtual Vet Nurse has already been deployed in two Auckland veterinary clinics, and the technology is now being made available to a wider number of New Zealand clinics.
“Like everybody, veterinary teams are doing their best to cope with additional pressures from Covid-19,” says Dr Merchant.
“So we thought we’d offer this service free-of-charge for the next couple of months. This deployment will also help enhance our technology in these early stages, so it’s a win-win.”
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Ambit has built a conversational artificial intelligence platform that facilitates intelligent and natural chat experiences with an organisation’s customers, partners or staff. Some of the world’s leading organisations are using Ambit to help them host engaging conversations and maximise value in every customer interaction. www.ambit.ai