Luís Henriques, Ricardo Rei and Luís Nunes, final year MSc students in Information Systems and Computer Engineering at Técnico, won the 12th edition of EDP University Challenge 2018. Inspired by the topic of this year’s edition – Customer Service – they developed the project “Costumers Support Chatbot” for Facebook, which provides customer support services through natural language processing and machine learning. The idea of participating came after they received an email from EDP: “Using Artificial Intelligence to improve customer service was one of the topics suggested, so we decided to apply because AI was one of our areas of interest, “said Ricardo Rei.
The virtual assistant developed by Técnico students is able to answer questions related to any EDP product, “thus freeing up customer service operators for matters of a more sensitive / complex nature”, says Ricardo Rei who also stresses that the chatbot has a limited use due to the FAQ available on EDP website, but in the future the students want to include “more diversified answers”.
The competition that ended last Tuesday, October 9, had several stages and Técnico students had to overcome several challenges. 5 teams (4 chosen by the jury and 1 chosen by the public) competed in the finals that led to the top3 . “We think that our project stood out, not only because a chatbot is an essential requirement for any online business today, namely customer service, but also because we have created a functional prototype,” says Ricardo Rei. “Nowadays customers want to solve problems for themselves before contacting companies directly and, in that sense, using a chatbot can be a good option”, he adds.
In total, 92 applications were submitted to the EDP programme that has the support of Premivalor Consulting, Spark Agency and TEKEVER. The initiative aims to reward academic and scientific projects, thus strengthening the link between the universities and the business world.