The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges. At the Brazil’s National Social Security Institute (Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social – INSS), in-person services were suspended on 20 March 2020.
Prior to this, the INSS had already adjusted its service capacity to take account of a reduction in personnel, increased demand for its services, the overloading of its call centre (telephone number: 135) and the pension reform, among other factors.
As the pandemic has further aggravated this situation, the INSS has introduced a number of measures to minimize its negative impact on citizens. These measures include the development of Helô, its virtual assistant – a chatbot that was initially intended to respond to queries regarding the use of the Meu INSS (My INSS) application, and whose remit is now expanding to incorporate remote services provided by staff who can offer a fuller response to citizens’ enquiries (although this aspect is still in its pilot phase).