Councils offer a wide range of services, many of which can be accessed online. Currently we find that most of the calls and visits into the council are relating to issues that could have been simply resolved by using the website.
The main reasons for people choosing the alternatives are:
- They don’t want to search through the website looking for information
- They don’t want to fill in a series of forms online
- They cannot find the information due to the large volume of data
This causes people to use multiple channels of communication to try and find information or resolve their issues. This also takes up staff time dealing with requests that can easily be resolved without their input.
The proposed solution, Ami, is a self-learning, conversational A.I. The application will act as a 24/7 responsive point of contact on the website. It will be able to answer a wide range of queries and find information in real time.
Ami also has the ability to complete and process forms through conversation, meaning people can request services, check their bin collection days, pay their council tax etc. all through the use of Ami. Ami can also contact relevant people in the council and connect residents straight to them if the enquiry is too complex for it to complete.
This will result in a more streamlined resident journey when using council services. Also freeing up the council agents time for more complex, high value enquiries. Overall this will greatly reduce the cost to serve for the council by increasing the amount they communicate through digital, automated channels.
Hertsmere Borough Council’s ICT and Customer Services strategies have been rewritten in 2018 covering the next 5 years. The two strategies are closely aligned and highlight the need to transform Hertsmere into a digital council.
The ICT Strategy identifies that the shape and size of the council is likely to change and likely increase but the need to provide high quality services to residents will remain. This will provide opportunities to use ICT to enable the Council to achieve efficiencies while maintaining and improving service delivery standards. Demand for public services and expectations of levels of service are increasing. Residents and businesses demand the same levels of access and personalisation that they see online from large private sector organisations such as Amazon and Tesco (paragraph 1.3).
Making the website the channel of choice for most residents offers the opportunity to achieve significant savings for the council, while at the same time offering a better service (paragraph 1.4).
The Customer Services strategy highlights the year on year increase in the number of visits to the councils website, while surprisingly the number of face to face visits and telephone calls to the council have not deceased. This indicates that residents have difficulty in finding the information they require on the website (paragraph 9).
The challenges identified in the ICT and Customer Services strategies is further evidenced in the Residents Tracker Survey conducted by Opinion Research Services in April 2018 which showed 59% of residents interviewed preferred the council’s website for obtaining council information, 2% increase from when the survey was last conducted in 2015.
Over four fifths of residents reported that they use the internet (93%). This is a significant increase of 6 percentage points since 2014/15 (87%) and show the protentional savings that could be made if information on the website was more readily accessible.
ICT Strategy 2018 to 2023:
Customer Services Strategy 2018 to 2023
Residents Tracker Survey:
- Digital leadership training (for council leaders, service managers or senior executives)
- Digital and agile awareness
- Introduction to digital business analysis
- Agile for teams