Leidschendam-Voorburg begins with robot
Marcia van Kampen
News – May 29, 2017. Starting today, a robot will start “training” in the Service Centre of the Municipality of Leidschendam-Voorburg to further improve the service provided to visitors. In a five month pilot, Decos and Qmatic programmers will work with the municipality to study and improve the relationship between visitors and the robot based on customer evaluations and experiences. Leidschendam-Voorburg is the first municipality in the Netherlands to use a robot to greet visitors.
The arrival of this robot in Leidschendam-Voorburg is not new. At the end of last year, employees and inhabitants had an opportunity to meet Robot Pepper. Their reactions were very positive at the time. Alderman for public services, Lia de Ridder: “Technical developments are taking place at a rapid pace. As the innovative municipality we are aspiring to be, we follow the developments that apply to the public sector closely. Now we are taking it one step further by investigating whether the robot can add value to the day-to-day service to our inhabitants.”
Interaction instead of “taking a number”
The robot begins its training by greeting visitors and showing them the way. The interaction between the robot and visitors is measured by asking visitors for their feedback. The collaboration with the employees is measured by holding interviews with the employees. Based on that information, the robot will continue to undergo development and improvements for the five month period. “Through trial and error we will examine whether cooperation between a person and a robot has the positive effect on customer experience that we expect to achieve,” says Roeland van Oers, project manager at Decos.
Vision for the future
The video clip illustrates the level of ambition the municipality of Leidschendam-Voorburg, Decos and Qmatic are envisioning with the robot. This is what working with a robot in a municipality’s Service Centre could look like in the future. We will be working towards that vision over the coming five training months in the Service Centre in Leidschendam. It does not necessarily mean that the final outcome will be exactly like in the video.
The robot has been nicknamed Elvie. Her last name is “Pepper”. In English it sounds like the abbreviation of the municipality name “LV”. We will monitor Elvie the robot over the coming five months and will test her “development” periodically.