Information Commissioner's Office use AI and automation to handle large query volumes
Explore how Conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation developed by ICS.AI and Microsoft for different engagement channels are revolutionising the way the ICO interact with customers.
The ICO is responsible for collecting data protection fees and registering organisations in the UK. Over the past four years, the ICO’s Public Register of organisations has grown from half a million to 1.1 million, resulting in an increase in contact volumes and requests related to the data protection fees team.
The ICO receives around 23,000 emails to its data protection fees inbox every month. Under the Data Protection Act 2018, organisations processing personal information are required to pay a data protection fee, unless they are exempt. 75% of these inbound emails were related to a change in circumstances, such as a change of address.
The ICO’s staff had to manually respond to each email, which required a significant amount of time and resources. Being able to identify those enquiries would enable the ICO to signpost users to the correct online service quicker and more efficiently. To help address this challenge, the ICO went through a procurement exercise and ICS.AI was selected.
AI-driven self-service on the ICO's website
The ICO send around 3 million letters to organisations every year.
To help them manage the influx of user queries as a result, ICS.AI developed a web-based AI assistant to guide individuals through the process of checking the requirement to register and completing the registration where applicable.
This tool is available on the ICO’s website and allows users to search for information, save their progress, go back to previous answers, and receive guidance to pay the correct fee.
This solution has processed over 360,000 queries so far, and has significantly reduced the workload for ICO staff, who previously had to manually respond to each query.
In addition, the AI assistant has improved user experience by allowing individuals to self-serve their queries and avoid the need to contact the ICO directly.
Director of Digital, IT & Business Services, The ICO
"The AI assistant has been a great resource for our customers, providing them with a convenient and efficient way to self-serve their queries".
Like our other public facing AI assistants, ICO's assistant is custom built using our proprietary SMART:CHAT software. It's ready to work for you on day one with a pre-trained understanding of user questions and intents. Thanks to its patent-pending mesh learning it is constantly improving. Drawing from its own feedback and other assistants it's connected to, our assistants provide instant value with robust analytics to help your organisation grow.
Email automation with ICS.AI's SMART:Email
To address the ICO’s manual backlog of change of address emails, ICS.AI developed SMART Email, an AI solution that automates email interactions.
ICS.AI worked with the ICO’s team to analyse emails and identify common requests and questions. Machine learning models were then optimised to handle these emails with a success rate of 95%.
The machine learning model now works in real time, handling around 5,000 emails per month and redirecting users to a form on the ICO’s website. Once completed, the form updates the ICO’s customer relationship management (CRM) system.
This process, which was previously manual and time-consuming, is now automated and efficient, thanks to the integration of AI, automation, and the CRM system.
Director of Digital, IT & Business Services, The ICO
"Part of our digital transformation strategy was to use AI and automation to make operations more efficient by creating a digital service that allows people to self-serve".
The email automation solution for the ICO was built using the proprietary SMART:EMAIL software. Common high-volume emails with subjects such as change of address, renewals, service questions create bottlenecks. SMART:EMAIL sorts this problem with a success rate over 90%. By fully automating the most common email categories and immediately escalating high-risk categories such as “complaint”, it boosts resolution rates and releases capacity.
Queries processed by AI
Emails deflected by AI each month
Reduction in queries reaching contact centre
Accuracy of the AI assistant
Over 360,000 queries processed at human parity levels (over 85% first time response accuracy)
Change of address emails automated without human intervention.
Significant reduction in contact volumes
Improved operational efficiency, customer experience and better service
The ICO's new strategic plan (ICO25) sets out objectives the organisation wants to achieve by 2025. This includes a makeover of the ICO’s digital and IT strategy.
Within this vision, there is a solid requirement to continue digitalising services and expanding user-centred technology, while keeping other communication channels open to accommodate customer preferences and more complex needs.
Feedback on the solution from stakeholders
Mike Fitzgerald, Director of Digital, IT & Business Services, The ICO
Conversational AI has allowed us to significantly reduce our workloads and improve efficiencies, while also improving the customer experience.
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