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Transforming public sector communication with phone-based voice AI

ICS.AI and NTT are transforming UK local council communication with phone-based Voice AI, addressing challenges in resident engagement across various community services

Yet, despite a solid online presence, a substantial 60% of their interactions remain via the phone channel, and many do not have the resources to maintain efficiency.

Councils partner with ICS.AI for AI-powered solutions


This is having a knock-on effect, with councils reporting increasing backlogs in areas like children’s services, repairs and surveying. ICS.AI were ideally placed to address this challenge, having developed a unique language model explicitly trained for public sector applications.

Several councils were already using this on their websites to power digital AI assistants, which were able to answer over 85% of questions correctly first-time and come complete with a “human parity guarantee”.

Councils innovate with phone-based voice AI

Following their initial success, a group of councils saw an opportunity to innovate further and boost resident engagement by partnering with ICS.AI, given their strive for digital innovation and AI transformation.

The goal was to launch a phone-based voice AI solution as part of their contact centre to serve the 240,000 residents in their municipal area. With monthly call volumes at 4000, this strategic move sought to enhance services for residents and optimise productivity without replacing human agents. By streamlining agent efficiency, they could direct their efforts towards more complex queries that required human attention.

Overcoming challenges together through AI solutions

Successfully rolling out the phone AI solution required seamless integration with the pre-existing call centre infrastructure.

This is where the expertise of NTT was indispensable. ICS.AI, valuing NTT’s prowess in cloud transitions and voice services, saw them as the ideal partners for this transformative venture.

The overarching vision was clear: ensure the phone AI assistant mirrors the efficiency of a human agent.

Initial outcomes have been promising. Around 2,500 monthly calls were routed through the AI system at launch, with 50% of questions answered correctly. This fostered change in user behaviour and accelerated the phone AI’s training for further council services.

Extending success through AI transformation

Inspired by this success, another UK council – challenged to optimise their customer service operations – started their AI transformation journey.

Initially, they integrated an AI-powered website assistant and supplemented their main switchboard with a phone-based AI system. Utilising ICS.AI’s pre-built local government language model, the service was trained in over 1,000 council services.

In less than three months, the results have been remarkable. The phone-based AI system met and exceeded initial deflection targets of 21%.

Handling an impressive volume of over 100,000 calls, it achieved a deflection rate of 43%. Fielding more than 1,000 queries daily, the AI manages up to 45% of the council’s total inbound calls.

This tech advancement has translated into tangible fiscal benefits, saving the board £200,000 against their budget plan.

The AI doesn’t stop at query resolution. It also directs calls to over 40 council departments, demonstrating its versatility and essential role in upholding service levels while streamlining operations.

A future reimagined thanks to AI-driven solutions

Implementing the phone-based AI solution has meant local councils can now proficiently address more service-related questions, meaning more people can access the correct information at the right time.

Not only does this benefit residents, but it also relieves some pressure on the human contact centre agents.

It enables them to spend more time focusing on complex problems.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of ICS.AI and NTT, residents no longer battle with prolonged waiting times, enjoying 24/7 accessibility.

The round-the-clock service provided by phone AI has transformed residents’ interaction with their council, bringing real-time solutions to their fingertips.

AI-driven solutions are revolutionising government operations at every level. By working with the right visionary technology partners, these solutions seamlessly transform public-sector landscapes and elevate council-resident interactions.

This piece was written and provided by Martin Neale, CEO of ICS.AI and originally posted on Open Access Government on 15th September 2023.

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