Finally trying to put down on paper what we have done with the LGA over the last year on our work on digital inclusion is hard as COVID has meant this was a very much an as and when project rather than the tightly focused project we had hoped.
We have been working with the LGA for over a year now to create a voice bot solution to help our residents with finding answers to the questions they commonly ask the council. Rightly or wrongly (there is a debate on this point) we have been creating FAQ style-content within our digital portal and website. The aim of this project was to seamlessly take this content from our website and provide it via a bot to answer phone calls.
NOTE – We don’t currently support web-chat as a channel so this is why we only used voice as a channel for engaging with our citizens via bot. We have plans later to introduce web-chat which would be built with this technology as an integral part.
The project ended up handling a number of different activities:
- Reviewing our FAQ content – It turns out that whilst we had FAQs they weren’t written all that well and often just pointed users towards a webpage with a link. So we re-wrote a lot of our FAQs so they had a few sentences of actual content to answer the common version of the question and then link off to our website for more details.
- Create a technical solution – Our digital team created a solution based on combining different COTS services from Twilio and Microsoft to create a voice bot with little code that we can pay for on a Pay-As-You-Go model.
- Engage with our citizens – We conducted user research with our citizens both our target audience and other cohorts to help understand how they wanted to engage with the service, balancing pre-cursor questions, which took longer to get to answer vs lower accuracy but trying to get straight to the answer.
- Alpha release – An initial limited alpha release allowed us to gather direct feedback from citizens who had been invited to use the service which we then used to refine and improve the service before going live.
- Beta release – Putting the service live as a beta this was linked to our out of hours number to help people and provide a better service as well as an option on our in hours IVR.
We did this work with a team of part time internal secondments to help bring wider skills and thinking around co-design to our organisation.
We spoke about this project as part of the LGA Digital Showcase on the 24th November