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Invest to save: How Conversational AI can shield the public sector from escalating costs

Conversational AI built specifically for the public sector can deflect queries and support interactions with extremely high accuracy rates, leading to efficiency savings of up to £1.5M per year (for a large-sized council)

Cost-cutting has been an urgent need for the public sector for some time - now the landscape looks even more challenging. With the cost-of-living rising globally, energy crisis and spending freezes, options for quality service are limited. Widespread staff shortages and trouble recruiting and keeping employees make the situation even harder.

Human parity Conversational AI is the transformation tool perfect for times of crisis – providing the same service quality, with 40% fewer resources. Conversational AI as the intermediary between staff and users reduces cost per contact but also increases overall service quality. But any AI product must be chosen wisely.

McKinsey Report: If governments want to make sustained headway in containing costs, they need to look beyond budget cuts to a much broader, more sophisticated tool kit.

Why? Due to their people-facing nature, public organisations struggle whenever demand to resources ratio is out of balance. Their mission to help communities puts their income-generating on the back burner, naturally, but without secure finances, good service quality is unattainable. Its communication patterns make the situation worse - growing digital demand, high numbers of repeated queries and out-of-hours contact volumes further overwhelm stretched out budgets.

What’s the current protocol? According to McKinsey & Company research, nearly half of public-sector organisations have cost reduction as one of their core transformation goals. And yet many of them fail. Burdening existing staff affects service quality, hiring more people is not feasible long-term, third-party agencies drive up spend and contact requests left unmanaged create backlogs. The bottom line is, there must be a way to do more - and better - for less.

With public sector organisations under pressure to save money, they must redesign the way they manage existing resources.

The goal of investing to save in the public sector is offering the same scale and quality of service while spending less. That’s where Conversational AI comes in. But not any kind. For Conversational AI to improve metrics, it needs to be pre-trained in most topics users will be asking about. With an AI language model pre-trained in thousands of relevant topics, Conversational AI can perform as well as human members of staff. When human parity performance is achieved, high accuracy rates together with the unlimited scale of AI-driven service achieve deflection rates, free up time, boost resolution rates and simplify processes, all of which, in consequence, can lead to efficiency savings of up to £1.5M per year (for a large-sized council).

ICS.AI language models for different public sector organisations are pre-trained in nearly 1,000 topics, meaning they provide human parity performance. Ready to support users and staff instantly, they cap escalating costs and enable more focus on high-value activities.

Telford and Wrekin Council added three new services without hiring more staff, thanks to their human parity Conversational AI.

Why does human parity Conversational AI work so well in the public sector?

  • Provides a single digital front door for different needs in one place - streamlining siloed services and directing users to the best resource without straining staff with simple repetitive tasks

  • Reduces overtime and 3rd party agencies out-of-hours costs during contact spikes thanks to efficient 24/7 self-service

  • Gives instant answers with AI pre-trained in thousands of topics and capable of providing a human parity user experience

  • Manages spikes in demand with always-on AI supporting staff even during the most demanding periods, reducing extra cost escalation

  • Works on multiple channels ensuring users are served quickly via their channel preference

  • Frees up staff time deflecting up to 90% of interactions and giving more time for complex or revenue generating activities

  • Improve service quality preventing increased waiting times and contact request backlogs

  • Automates processes streamlining different processes in one place and saving time

  • Integrates to existing infrastructure supercharging the value of existing Microsoft licences and kick-starting the savings

  • Evolves with patent-pending SMART Mesh getting regular updates pulling knowledge from other assistants working in the sector

After Lewes and Eastbourne Council deployed Conversational AI, they have been able to move five contact agents away from routine queries toward more income generating activities.

Conversational AI - additional benefits

The efficiency improvements will also bring about other outcomes – the sheer number of queries easily automated by AI mean the public sector will have more resources to create and provide more services, making end-users’ lives easier and improving the morale of their existing staff shifting their focus from repetitive simple tasks to making a difference.

To see how AI can save money in LRG - Watch this webinar! For Education - Watch this one!


As an AI vendor, we are exclusively focused on the public sector. This means that our Conversational AI is built for higher education and further education with universities and colleges, local government councils, central government and the health sector institutions. We are very close to the cost-saving challenges the sector is experiencing, and so, we’re always exploring ways for Microsoft’s technology to help solve them.

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