The Contact Center of the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO)
Discover how our chatbot supports the VLAIO Contact Center in handling questions from starting entrepreneurs.
The entrepreneurial spirit is strong among the Flemish people. Annelies Leysen, Business Advisor at the VLAIO (Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) Contact Center, wholeheartedly agrees. The latest figures from the Flemish Government support her claim:
In 10 years, the number of entrepreneurs in the Flemish Region has increased by 33%. During the corona year 2020, even 7.2% more companies were founded than the previous year.
The Agency applauds this. VLAIO offers various investment and training projects aimed at lowering the barrier to entrepreneurship in Flanders. Their Contact Center inspires, supports, and informs entrepreneurs personally about the various forms of support available in Flanders and Brussels.
A Red-Hot Phone
With the outbreak of the corona pandemic in the spring of 2020, VLAIO's Contact Center was flooded with questions from entrepreneurs. What now for their business? Which grants would they receive? Could their business survive the coming months? Business owners had to quickly search for answers and solutions.
Many people got inspired during the quiet lockdown weeks and started their own business as a freelancer. On top of questions from existing businesses, those from a new generation of entrepreneurs piled up. The result: a constantly red-hot phone and an overloaded Contact Center. The need for an additional channel to handle all incoming questions was high.
We were very interested in a chatbot for starters and pre-starters because they are a crucial target group for our Agency. For a little under two years, they've been able to reach the Contact Center by email and phone, and for a year now via WhatsApp. But we are continually looking for ways to further increase our accessibility.
- Annelies Leysen, Business Advisor at VLAIO
Tip: Are you looking for a similar chatbot? Book an exploratory conversation with Jany to find out how we can help you.
What if your chatbot was a real person?
We built our chatbot following the model of the ideal VLAIO business advisor. Just like a real advisor, the chatbot answers questions from starting entrepreneurs as a Contact Center employee would, but the chatbot does this automatically.
On the VLAIO website 'Starting your own business', entrepreneurs can get an answer to their question at any time of the day. Often these are recurring questions for which the Agency has written a standard answer. This way, we relieve some pressure from the Contact Center.
A starting entrepreneur obviously doesn't only have questions during office hours. The Contact Center is only accessible within those hours, so the chatbot was a good addition to what already existed.
- Annelies Leysen
An Accessible Channel
After a positive reception by the Contact Center staff, the chatbot went live on VLAIO's website in March 2021. Four months after the launch, we received the first results from the Contact Center.
Our idea that a chatbot is a very accessible channel was confirmed. People often first try the chatbot before picking up the phone or composing an email with a complete question. The chatbot accounted for 40% compared to our other channels, which is quite impressive.
- Annelies Leysen
Moreover, the chatbot keeps most conversations going, proving that it contains the right information and is well-trained. Thanks to a solid fallback strategy, users are always guided to a solution.
The chatbot was created as part of an 'experiment' within the VLAIO Sandbox project, where an entity of the Flemish government is successfully matched with an innovative startup.
We were allowed to present our collaboration at the VLAIO Sandbox showcase.
Test the chatbot on the VLAIO website 'Starting your own business'.