Elevating the resident experience with AI

The State of Iowa replaced multiple website journeys with one consistent digital experience. Powered by a new knowledge base, the Genesys live chat and chatbot solution handled 15,000 contacts a month at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — delivering fast service and saving about 45,000 minutes of call handling.

Quicker assistance

for residents

Strong self-service scores

with live chat and chatbot

Significant time savings

for agents

I really see the chatbot as being a platform that’s going to allow us to provide a consistent experience for Iowans, no matter where they come in.

Dawn Connet

eGovernment Services Coordinator

State of Iowa

Nicknamed “the Hawkeye State,” Iowa is a midwestern state with a population of over 3 million residents. The State of Iowa is run by a series of agencies and departments that are all connected to the state website, Iowa.gov. This central site — along with the individual agency sites — are charged with providing residents with an enhanced yet intuitive digital experience.


“We had several hurdles to overcome,” said Dawn Connet, eGovernment Services Coordinator for the State of Iowa. “One challenge is that while we have the central Iowa.gov site, all the agencies have their own websites. As a visitor, you don’t want to have to figure out which department you need to visit. And our old-school chat option on Iowa.gov was with state librarians and only allowed one chat at a time. Additionally, the organization of each agency’s site was different, so it provided an inconsistent experience — making information hard to find. And many sites had lengthy PDFs that visitors had to search to find answers.”

To provide a more comprehensive and less cumbersome experience for residents and visitors, the Office of the Chief Information Officer decided to update the central website self-service features. It chose a platform that could extend out to the individual agency sites over time to provide that consistent experience.

“We opted to take the leap to an AI-based environment,” added Connet. “We needed a platform that could work with our legacy systems and numerous stakeholders. When we coupled this with our live service the state reference librarians provide, we felt residents would have an enhanced experience.”


The State of Iowa selected Genesys DX™ to implement a live chat and an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled chatbot. It began the implementation with the central Iowa.gov site, along with several agencies, including insurance and transportation. In building the knowledge base for Iowa.gov, agencies were asked to provide Connet’s team with the top five questions and answers to start. Following the launch, the team monitored new questions and phrases to continue building out the database.

“As an example, residents were asking the Department of Corrections what they could wear while visiting an inmate or what they could bring,” said Connet. “The information couldn’t be found via a search on the agency website as we were using the word ‘offender’ and not ‘inmate.’ This would then cause people to call the department for information. Once we understood these differences, we were able to adjust so the chatbot’s natural language processing would understand and serve up the right answer — even suggest other relevant information.”

The Iowa Department of Insurance integrated the chatbot not only into its website but also into a backend application. That meant someone using chat could search and find the same information they would through the website.

And the Department of Transportation implemented the live chat function to better assist residents. “We wanted to improve our residents’ experience and we had seen the success from the Iowa.gov team, so we opted to implement the chatbot first before moving to live chat,” said Zhaia Wineinger, Information Specialist at the Department of Transportation. “We had a lot of data on what residents asked and we went through two years of questions we had received directly, through Facebook and our standard FAQ. We built a solid database with over 200 questions that we’re continuously adding to.”


More than 15 different Iowa agencies have implemented chatbot widgets on their websites, and use of the chat platform is expected to increase and continue spreading across the various agencies and departments. “We will continue to expand our self-service features, especially for large applications that may be difficult for our residents to understand,” said Connet. “When people get stuck on applications, they end up calling the agency. We feel the chatbot could assist with answering any questions.”

With the live chat and AI-enabled chatbot, the State of Iowa sees the following results.

  • Continually strong self-service score averages across all sites — exceeding expectations with Iowa.gov at 74%, insurance at 76% and transportation at 79%.
  • Across these three sites, more than 229,000 resident engagements have been addressed.
  • There is an average of 1,000 chats per month for Iowa.gov, providing significant time savings for agents.
  • The Department of Transportation averaged 3,000 chats a month. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this number jumped to 15,000 chats a month — with the solution helping to deflect many calls while providing quicker assistance.

During the pandemic, the chatbot and live chat options were extremely important in answering questions. “Most of the year we were seeing about a thousand chats a month, which is not a lot, but those are a thousand interactions that would have taken a five-minute phone call. That’s a huge staff savings,” said Connet. “Now, with the coronavirus, that number has jumped. We know that we’re able to help more people and that it will just grow exponentially as we make the chat available across other platforms and systems.”

“At the start of COVID-19, we knew we had to provide more assistance and quickly implemented the live chat feature,” concluded Wineinger. “We trained over 45 agents quickly to be on live chat as everything became more chaotic with COVID-19 causing changes in the regulations. The AI chatbot and live chat were a game changer for us as residents could ask their specific questions via either method or by phone.”

At a glance

Customer: State of Iowa

Industry: Government

Location: United States


  • Better serve Iowa citizens with faster, easier information access
  • Provide a consistent digital experience across state websites
  • Handle communication spikes during the COVID-19 pandemic


Genesys DX