Bucky Bot at Your Service!

A screenshot of the University Housing home page featuring the virtual chatbot

Have you noticed anything new on the Housing website? On August 28, we launched a virtual assistant chatbot, and in true UW–Madison fashion, it’s named Bucky. Do you see it? It’s right there in the lower right corner of your screen! The Bucky Bot reviews the whole Housing website every day so when it’s asked a question, it can answer with the most up-to-date information. While it doesn’t have all the answers, we continuously help it learn so that it can have a helpful answer for next time. The chatbot only uses and provides online information right now, but we have the option for staff to chat live with those using the chatbot in the future. So far, the chatbot’s “brain” knows over 334,000 words and uses those words to find answers. Pretty smart, right? We can create custom responses so that when the same question comes through multiple times but is worded a little differently, the bot can give the same answer. These custom responses also help the chatbot tell users exactly what we want or need them to know.

Since the Bucky Bot emerged from its virtual sett, over 1,500 messages have been sent. This includes more than 1,200 conversations where more than one question was asked in a single session. We’re better able to support users outside of standard office hours now, too! Over 250 conversations have happened on Saturdays and Sundays, and more than 400 conversations have been between 5pm and 8am.

Does the Bucky Bot seem familiar? If you’ve visited the UW–Madison Office of Student Financial Aid, Online Undergraduate Programs, Professional Degrees and Certificates, and Summer Term websites, they use this chatbot, too!

A huge thank you goes out to all the staff who have helped in making the Bucky Bot happen!