Quality digital conversations
Using chatbot automation at Worcestershire County Council for stronger citizen experiences.
Worcestershire County Council (WCC) serves over half a million people, 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
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
A digital journey to efficiency
WCC's work is guided by four key priorities that shape Worcestershire’s Future, by strengthening relationships with individuals, families, communities and partners.
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.
Liberty Connect’s intuitive and usable design means that once chat flows were mapped out, little or no specialist technical skills were needed to build the chatbot.
To free up contact centre agents from answering routine questions, the team used built-in features like AI content highlights, decision trees and quick replies to quickly direct citizens to the information they need.
With their master scoping document, the team already had a high-level view of all relevant process flows. Building on these initial chat flow designs, WCC addressed more complex process flows at handover and crossover points. And after 2.5 days of training with the Netcall team, they explored other value-added functionality within the chatbot — and how best to configure it with these plans in mind. This would enable them to boost transactional capability, e.g. adding trackers to allow citizens to track application status with a reference number via the bot rather than navigating to a web page.
Using Liberty Connect’s value-add features, the Council launched their first semi-transactional capability to manage library queries — firing an API to an in-house system to automatically provide opening times to citizens in the chat.
Building on this proof of concept, WCC can better handle peak volume enquiries such as school admissions and flood warnings, providing instant information via the chatbot to citizens and reducing the volume of voice and web chats that agents manage.
There’s huge potential across all council service areas for deflecting internal contact around their support services on offer.
Looking to the future
IT service desk opportunity
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.
A bright future for citizens
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.
We’re constantly evolving as a customer services contact centre as we take on new services — and the decrease in web chats has been a big winner for agents.
- 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
Learn how to combine chat functionality with AI-powered chatbots with Liberty Connect.
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