AI in the public sector is transforming how council’s communicate. How is conversational intelligence helping them to deliver a better service?
As public sector digital transformation increases, so does the potential for local governments to capture more data and unlock new insights that can be turned into insights to deliver a better service.
“We talk a lot about the citizen experience being synonymous with the digital experience, but the opportunity for local governments to capture more citizen data makes an equally compelling business case for digital transformation”, explains Pete Whitehouse, public sector expert at Opus.
“Data makes the world go around. Today, even organisations at the local government level can harness it by analysing speech or text and gaining a better understanding of their citizens — from demographic details and service needs to their quality expectations.”
“In 2022, 20% of customer service interactions will be handled by conversational agents and 30% of all organisations will utilise AI-enabled process orchestration and intelligence.” ‘The Use of Conversational AI for Customer Service‘, Gartner
This is what we mean by conversational intelligence, artificial intelligence (AI) capable of listening to and deciphering human conversations across any channel or format, at scale, to deliver the meaningful insights local government leaders need to improve their services.
Conversational intelligence: how does it work?
Conversational AI uses a combination of natural language processing (NLP) to ‘understand’ speech and text, and AI to then extract and organise the data that it captures.
To effectively analyse speech or text, the algorithm records it, then transcribes it using the NLP. This is how the AI is then able to ‘read’ the data, identify patterns within it, and classify it according to the user’s protocols.
As you can imagine, the subject gets very complex, very quickly. The important thing to take away is that conversational intelligence gives your systems the ability to understand speech and text reliably, accurately and at scale, unlocking a range of new service capabilities.
3 public sector use cases for conversational intelligence
1. Self-service capabilities
Self-service of the past is not the same thing as modern, AI-assisted self-service options. We have evolved from auto attendants, to basic IVR (interactive voice response), to a full, intelligent conversational exchange. Now, self-service is the preferred form of service.
“When a council is receiving a high volume of calls, the conversational intelligence technology makes it possible for them to support more self-service channels using AI and IVR to deliver a message without the need for an agent to touch it”, Pete explains. “These zero-touch solutions can automate low-value or repetitive interactions, such as frequently asked questions about waste management, so agents can dedicate their time to higher-value, priority tasks like speaking with the more vulnerable members of society.”
2. Expanded channel choice
Among the self-service solutions available today, councils are leveraging chatbots, or ‘virtual assistants’, to unlock efficiencies and deliver better citizen experiences across their services.
These technologies enable customer services to provide automated, human-like answers to frequently asked questions on subjects as varied as waste management, street lighting and anti-social behaviour. The time and cost savings from this kind of digital solution can be substantial but the strongest business case for investing in chatbot solutions is that they bring councils one step closer towards delivering an omnichannel service experience.
“What local governments are trying to do is enable their citizens to engage with their councils however they prefer”, explains Pete.
“Chatbots are projected to save up to 27 billion customer service hours by 2023.” ‘Chatbots: Market Summary and Key Takeaways’, Juniper Research
3. Unlocking citizen data
“A significant change over the last few years within contact centres has been the integration of systems”, Pete explains. “Telephony is no longer standalone. Our contact centre solutions now come with REST (representational state transfer) APIs, for example, enabling the integration of core business platforms such as the CRM to drive improvements in the citizen experience and make the transaction smoother and faster.”
Conversational intelligence plays a key role in capturing this data, providing local councils with the building blocks they need to make more informed business decisions based on the reliable capture of accurate citizen data, even across thousands of daily interactions.
“When it comes to system and data updating, intelligent automation really comes into its own. From managing council tax payments to issuing parking permits, there are now digital solutions to the many task-driven processes that are such a major part of local government’s work.” ‘Local government and artificial intelligence: the benefits and the challenges‘, The Knowledge Exchange
Building a better technology strategy from intelligent insights
Every day, Pete works with local government authorities from across the UK to help them adapt their technology strategy. Typically, that involves helping councils to advance their digital transformation journey — all in the name of transforming the citizen experience.
“The public wants to engage with their councils using the channels of their choice and they expect an omnichannel experience. On their side, councils need the technology and the strategy to deliver that so citizens interacting with them on any media have a consistent experience.”
This is where Opus can help. Our teams have provided multimedia/omnichannel solutions for many councils in recent years. As an independent, privately-owned company, our approach is always to understand the needs of both the local government and its citizens in order to customise the right solutions that solve challenges for both parties.
“A council considering automation technology shouldn’t be put off by thinking that they have to change everything at once”, Pete explains. “It may be that they just want to improve their online presence through AI to enable citizens to complete transactions online, for example, or set up a small number of agents to help their citizens via webchat. Through our Opus Engage contact centre solutions, part of the Opus Together range, we can deliver that.”
Thanks to continuing advances in AI, and the support of managed service providers like us, conversational intelligence is well within the grasp of councils today. With the right digital tools, local governments can unlock quick wins as well as future-proof their operations.