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Humanized Customer Service Tool Launched

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services launched a new customer service tool, and her name is Emma

Debbie Cannon, a public affairs officer for USCIS, said Emma was named for Emma Lazarus whose sonnet, The New Colossus, is inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.


"What they were looking at though was a lot of people were calling our customer service line with very simple questions that could be answer online. So they thought 'these questions are already here on the website so let's just use an avatar, like we'll have a virtual assistant named Emma, and they can ask questions of her and won't have to spend so much time on the customer service line'," Cannon said.  



Credit USCIS
Emma answers a question about applying for a work visa.

Aiming to help customers find accurate information online about USCIS, Emma is constantly building memory in her database, developing with each question asked. Cannon said Emma has been able to provide accurate responses to 87 percent of the questions she has been asked so far.


"We're constantly adding new research, adding new ways that people might ask questions," Cannon said. "Emma is building her understanding. She learns different ways that someone could ask the same questions." 


Developed by a team of government staff and contractors, Emma's implementation took about eight months and cost about $3.4 million. USCIS is working on launching a Spanish-speaking Emma in early 2016.