Wandsworth Borough Council aimed to capitalise on its existing direct debit hotline number by providing an extended 24x7, user friendly service to meet customer needs and ensure calls were not abandoned. Cost savings were also necessary to reduce its reliance on temporary staff.
A 'virtual agent' was introduced into the Council from a speech recognition system, answering telephone calls into the direct debit hotline. The solution combines speech recognition with the phone keypad, thus ensuring confidentiality and data security. Accounts can be updated in ‘real-time’ ensuring the system is fully self-sufficient from start to finish.
There was an immediate improvement; the debit take-up increased by more than 40% over the prior period. The virtual agent handles an average of 170 daily calls which allows the team in the council tax department to focus on more important and complex tasks, and the direct debit setup requires little management.