Southampton AI Answers Residents' Questions
Southampton City Council uses a second-generation chatbot to streamline the delivery of services to residents.
08:08 09 July 2020
Southampton City Council is using Sobot, a second-generation chatbot, to easily and quickly provide answers to more than 90per cent of questions being raised by residents. The council's Citizen Assistant chatbot, which was designed by Omni Channel AI technology, not only helps the local government streamline the delivery of services to citizens, it also frees up the time for staff so they can focus on more pressing issues.
James Marshall, Head of Customer and Communications at Southampton City Council, said: "The council's vision for the next five years sets the gold standard for delivering 21st-century public services: sustainable, inclusive and customer-focused. Our challenge is achieving this with reducing budgets, rising expectations and changing demographics. Artificial intelligence technology provides the opportunity for me to serve our 1.5million customer requests in a way and at a cost that was simply not possible before. The 90per cent success rate of SOBOT in answering citizens questions supports this approach. SOBOT is clearly going down well with its users with less than 2per cent requesting to be transferred to a human agent!"
Martin Neale, CEO of ICS.AI, shared how the scheme was developed. He said: "James wanted to transform how Southampton engaged with its citizens; he had seen simple chatbots but felt he needed to go way beyond this to deliver Southampton's vision. In our experience, people's expectations of a virtual assistant are high, set by products like Alexa and Google Assistant. If the experience does not compare, then most people's instant response is to regard the bot as "dumb" and not use it again. We have worked with James for over a year to produce one of the most sophisticated virtual assistants in the country. SoBot is our second-generation Citizen digital assistant trained with a data set of nearly 40,000 citizens questions, which is a big part of why it is so successful."