A Taranaki-based business advisory firm has seen interest from right around the country for its COVID-19 chatbot "Covey".
The chatbot from Velocite answers business owners' COVID -19 questions and was up and running just 12 hours after lockdown began. Covey can tackle questions about wage subsidies, business continuity and scenario planning. Businesses from as far afield as Invercargill have engaged.
"Velocite was able to move fast and provide the service free of charge because it transitioned to remote working an entire week before lockdown," says director Grant McQuoid FCA.
Velocite's directors observed early that business continuity was going to be a significant problem and that SMEs wouldn't necessarily be able to afford to pay for advice.
"We thought if we can make information available free, businesses could solve problems themselves."
Covey was up and running within days thanks in part to one of Velocite's clients Yonder, which provides chatbots to the tourism industry.
On the Friday before lockdown Velocite's Loren Anderson, a business strategist and Portia Smith, a Chartered Accountant, met with Yonder and thrashed out how the technology could be adapted to self-service business advice.
"Loren and Portia then spent pretty much the entire weekend working on Q&As for the chatbot," says McQuoid.
As well as the chatbot, Velocite has published COVID -19 guides and material for businesses on velocite.co.nz. That includes a 4-Week Planning Framework, Restart Planning, and How to Guides, all with an emphasis on practical steps to take now.
Next off the block will be the chatbot-supported Velocite Business Reshape Programme, which the firm is considering making available to other chartered accountants in regional New Zealand.
COVID-19 Resources hub
This dedicated hub is regularly updated to ensure members are equipped to navigate the serious long-term economic and business impacts from this pandemic.Read more