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  • Writer's pictureICS.AI

More than half of UK's councils cannot be wrong - learn to serve more people with less

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

We explore how to augment all channels with AI for the good of the citizens

We've just hit a record – our event discussing AI Channel Shift with James Marshall from Southampton City Council was the biggest in ICS.AI's history. More than 50% of the UK's councils joined us to learn what AI assistants can offer their residents. With over 300 people signed up and more than 250 attending, it is evident that AI has gone mainstream.

To meet the demand, councils have been adding new digital channels to interact with citizens in different ways. Unfortunately, this leads to a growing demand for contact centre workers and overwhelms existing staff. Our attendees were excited to learn how to solve this problem.

We focused on improving customer service performance metrics by enhancing agent-user interactions on each channel and enabling people with different capabilities to successfully self-serve, all using human parity AI assistants.

Why is AI perfect for councils?

Local authorities communicate at a mass scale, both inbound and outbound. As demand grows and resources shrink, they must embrace digital channels. Taking services online gives customer service metrics a good boost, but there is a limit to how far it can go. Efficiency requires mass resolution and not only taking people out of the building and onto the website. 'Digital by default' means people choose digital engagement, and yet not all users will find it user-friendly – some will continue to rely on phone or email, straining council resources.

Another loophole of the famed channel shift is that at a certain point, adding more digital channels just means increasing demand - audiences mature in their astuteness and expect instant interaction at every touchpoint. And instant results are impossible without expanding your workforce. Unless you've got AI.

So, a real efficiency jump requires enhancing the power of agents on the other end.

What makes good AI?

AI is made to improve people's lives. With human parity performance, ethical compliance and a language model that's constantly evolving, councils can keep serving more citizens well, at the same time shifting valuable human skills towards the most vulnerable.

When AI takes over routine and repetitive tasks, residents and councils' benefit through better service, satisfying jobs and creating impactful changes within the community. But, how to make AI work for you and not against you? This is what ICS.AI have discovered throughout our collaborations with the UK's councils:

Build on existing channels

You won't immediately convince all users to go digital. By enhancing your existing channels with AI, you'll drive better results.


Bet on inclusivity with WCAG AA and ethical compliance as well as user-friendly CX, making digital the default choice.

Strategic Signposting

Redirect service users to digital at every touchpoint, especially during contact spikes, preventing them from jamming your phone lines.

Focus on Outcome

Some digital tools just send users back to agents. Monitor and adjust them to really improve outcomes.

Learn & Educate

Always gather feedback to learn what your citizens want and educate them about AI assistants, driving them towards digital.

Human Parity Performance

Invest in pre-trained AI that answers over 90% of questions correctly, satisfying your users' needs for quick solutions.

So, what is AI already achieving in the Public Sector?

Southampton City Council has been one of the UK's first councils to go live with an AI assistant. While developing it, we've built the biggest language model for local government, which now enables high accuracy and impressive automated resolution across the sector. Southampton's AI assistant has been live for 18 months, and its performance metrics are impressive:

30,000 unique enquiries have been processed to a 95% accuracy allowing Southampton to manage increased demand without having to grow their team.

Telford and Wrekin are a council we've started working with recently. We deployed an AI assistant on their website in just 6 weeks, and they immediately noticed an impressive 40% drop in live chats ever since. This is a powerful result, as live chat is notorious for driving demand for agents, requiring them to personally assist every customer. Now, with AI sitting in between, filtering the low-impact, routine queries, Telford's staff can dedicate their efforts to priority cases.

Cheshire West is a council that has had an AI assistant deployed pre-pandemic. Thanks to its human parity performance and the unlimited service Cheshire council were able to effortlessly serve a 500% spike in contact request during the first lockdown, freeing resources that were obviously in high demand during that difficult period.


AI assistants resolve the scale problem because they serve unlimited numbers of people, and they can be deployed on any channel. This makes them a powerful tool for councils, which want to be reachable to their residents in different ways. With an easy, intuitive and 24/7 engagement in our natural language, councils empower citizens to self-serve wherever they choose to contact their local authority.

As we reflect on our continuous partnership with the local government, we are very excited to explore how to bring even more power to our communities, augmenting the real human engagement on users' channel of choice. The social media and outbound campaigns during contact spikes are our next frontier.

To provide the best customer experience for residents, you need to build a user-friendly, digital-first council, and we can help you do just that with AI designed for your council's needs. Explore the process and check out the real results you can achieve in our best yet On-Demand Webinar below.


Find out more about our AI assistants by visiting our Smart Chat page. Or simply contact us from our Contact page.

The webinar can be viewed by following this link, where you will also find our Local government savings calculator and answers to any questions asked during the webinar.
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