Quality digital conversations

Using chatbot automation at Worcestershire County Council for stronger citizen experiences

The challenge

Worcestershire County Council (WCC) serves over half a million people across an area covering 672 square miles. Following the successful service consolidation and implementation of a new Netcall contact centre platform a few years before, the team were eager to harness the full potential of its integrated chatbot technology. Their goals included:

  • Providing a 24/7 service to citizens
  • Reducing inbound call transfers to customer service teams
  • Refining processes to support customer enquiries efficiently
  • Proactively providing information and guidance
  • Managing peak communication volumes

A digital journey to efficiency

Their efforts to boost efficiency and provide a better customer experience have progressed from the voice channel to web chat and on to chatbots. While web chat demands less agent intervention and resource than voice, agents were still required to deal with queries that could be resolved through chatbots.

By using chatbots more effectively, agents would only be involved at escalation when unable to resolve the query. It’s why the council remained focused on refining chatbot processes to make them work more effectively for citizens. One such example is their ‘Here to Help’ chatbot service — proven to be a particularly effective communication method to support people through the pandemic while searching for information on their website.

“We now have more resource to push into telephony and administration, and can offer more of a 24/7 facility for customers on the chatbot side.”

Paul Appleyard

Customer Services and Representations Manager, Worcestershire County Council

The solution

The result

  • 24/7 facility for citizens
  • More resources for telephony and administration
  • Less calls into contact centre
  • Reduced web chat volumes in peak service areas
  • Steady reduction in web chat volumes 737 to 75 in one year
  • Chatbot volumes increasing to 4,000+ per month
  • Positive feedback from citizen chatbot engagements
  • Reduced pressure on agents

“There’s huge potential across all council service areas for deflecting internal contact around their support services on offer.”

Geoff Hedges

Head of IT Customer Services, Worcestershire County Council

A bright future for citizens

Recognising the potential for offering automated help through its IT services to council staff, WCC has been working on how to supplement their IT portal with a chatbot. By answering some queries via the chatbot, their IT teams would be closer to their goal of driving down telephony usage and costs, and growing web self-service. Examples include assisting users to correctly categorise IT service tickets with effective signposting – and offering a huge array of user guides and staff information via their intranet. In the case of data permissions, colleagues can look up resource data owners online rather than seeking permissions over the phone.

WCC tackles service expansion with control as they make transactions more efficient and automated. To reduce hassle and speed up information gathering and citizen interactions, they plan to expand their chat bot’s transactional capabilities to their HR, finance and property (landlords) functions using a 3-phase approach. The team starts with simple signposting to the website, before building flows for more value and then delivering more transactional capability within the chatbot. Along with a much-improved customer experience, they plan to use the full potential of the chatbot to deflect internal contact for the support services on offer.

Impact

Digitally

empowered workforce

Remote Working

business as usual

Reduced

abandon rate

A 24/7 service for citizens

Boost efficiency and provide a better customer experience with the voice channel as well as web chat and chatbots

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