How a London council cut 10,000 calls and grew customer satisfaction by 67% in 6 months

Natalie Smithson
AI enthusiast | Tea addict | Focused on using AI assistants to win the working week
AI assistant supporting local council customers for Barking & Dagenham London

Barking & Dagenham Council | Local government

Key challenges

Barking & Dagenham Council (B&D) initially signed up for an AI assistant to tackle an overwhelming number of enquiries about missed bins and waste collection.

  • Pressure on their contact team to meet demand was constant
  • Handling calls about missed bins became a repetitive, unfulfilling task
  • A backlog of enquiries extended beyond routine calls about waste

Key results

B&D booked a call with us to find out how launching an AI assistant could help and just six months later, missed bin enquiries were being automated, saving the council tens of thousands of pounds.

  • Enquiries about missed bins, collection days and bulky waste can now be handled instantly by AI
  • Their AI assistant was trained to resolve almost every enquiry without any help from the team
  • B&D went on to expand their AI assistant across five more departments at no extra cost
Image of the Barking & Dagenham AI (Bark&Dag in red and black letting) with a speech bubble that says
The Al success rate for reporting missed bins hit 98%. The council quickly reduced their calls by 10,000. In the first 6 months alone the council saved £48,000.

Notable breakthroughs along the way

  • Offering 24-hour support means the council can now answer residents when their offices are closed
  • The customer service team benefits just as much as residents do from the use of AI
  • Real time engagement with the AI assistant has radically improved customer satisfaction

It takes just 10 minutes to launch an AI assistant

A few years ago, launching an AI assistant would have taken B&D months to plan, a hefty budget and a dedicated tech team ― luxuries local government doesn’t have. Our unique platform takes that demand away:

  • Any member of your team can manage your AI assistant (you don’t need any technical skill)
  • Your security and compliance responsibilities are all taken care of ― even if they’re extensive
  • You can easily add new features to scale AI-driven support over time
  • There’s a human in the loop to help continuously improve your AI assistant’s performance

All anyone needs to get started is a website url ― it’s that simple!

Screen on EBI.AI AI Studio platform where you are asked to enter the URL for your website to automatically create an AI assistant using its content

An advanced AI assistant helps B&D bring down call volumes while keeping standards high

Before launching their AI assistant, B&D wanted to find a way to reduce phone enquiries, but didn’t want to reduce the quality of their service. They hoped using an AI assistant would help them:

  • Spend more time and resource on the problems residents need the council for the most
  • Better serve residents who have complex needs
  • Support more residents without increasing fixed costs
  • Offer a more efficient service delivery
  • Improve overall user experience

B&D chose a name for their AI assistant and a custom avatar, and have full control over every response it sends out to their local community, which can be edited any time.

Everything B&D needs to check their AI assistant’s progress is on their client dashboard:

(Data shown is for illustrative purposes only)

Customer support is easily tailored to the London council and its customers using AI

B&D were excited to discover their AI assistant can handle scheduling enquiries like these from start to finish:

  • ‘When does my bin get collected?’
  • ‘What day does my recycling bin get taken?’
  • ‘Is my bin collected the same time each week?’

To handle these enquiries independently, the AI assistant was trained to first ask for the customer’s postcode. Using a simple integration, it can then query the council’s back-office systems to return the customer’s next bin collection date. 98% of these kinds of enquiries are now fully resolved using just the AI assistant.

AI assistant answers the question

9 months after launch the AI assistant is trained to answer queries for 6 departments

B&D quickly reported a 6% reduction in calls about missed bins, so the AI assistant was trained to answer enquiries for another five departments on all sorts of topics from council tax and housing, to births, deaths and marriages. This soon highlighted the most popular topics in each area, like parking ticket disputes, visitor parking, and missed bins, so the council now knows where to focus its resource. The best part is, it didn’t cost them any more to use the same AI assistant to take on more departments and tasks.

AI assistant covers 6 departments: Waste (image of a bin), Council Tax (image of a paper bill), Parking (image of a parked car), Benefits (image of cash), Housing repairs (image of a house), Registrars (image of a newborn)

Customer satisfaction increased by 67%

Only 20% of customers reported successfully using the B&D website to resolve their query, yet in its first six months, the B&D AI assistant handled 18,400 enquiries from customers and 87% of those were successfully resolved, meaning the AI assistant understood their request correctly AND gave them a helpful answer without any input from the B&D contact centre team. The early success rate exceeded all expectations.

AI automation is popular with residents

In its first nine months the B&D AI assistant had 21,000 conversations with customers. The council saw people quickly gain confidence with using it and the AI assistant started to average 3,280 meaningful conversations with residents every quarter. This number will only continue to go up, the more the AI assistant is trained to do.

B&D gives 24-hour help to its community

Having an AI assistant online all through the day and night quickly showed B&D 35% of their queries come in outside of their office hours. They want customers to be able to contact them at a time most convenient for them, and getting to know customer preferences through the use of AI means B&D can quickly adapt their services to suit, increasing customer satisfaction.

3 people sitting on a sofa at night with the text:

Council savings are on the up

The B&D contact centre gets 40,000 customer queries a month and in six months their AI assistant handled 10,000 of those ― that’s a massive saving on council spending. B&D allocated resource to automating more tasks like applications for visitor parking and the contact team now has more time to focus on sensitive enquiries or difficult issues where customers appreciate the human touch.

Conversation review is essential to B&D's success

Our team of conversation analysts are continually reviewing conversations between B&D residents and their AI assistant, looking for patterns to see where improvements can be made.

Conversation review helps guide decisions the council makes, showing where services can improve and what takes priority. All they have to do is accept (or reject) our suggestions on the platform.

B&D’s return on their investment (ROI) is 533% and the more people use the AI assistant for the increasing number of tasks it can do, the more the council expects this figure to go up.

Since call numbers have decreased dramatically, B&D is now looking at ways to decrease email volume too, which will also increase ROI.

Two men on bikes on a leafy suburban street with the Barking & Dagenham logo visible.

Improve your business operations today

It’s easy to use our AI Studio to create and manage your own AI assistant, or you can choose our managed service and ask us to do it all for you. AI assistants are now used across public and private sectors to transform customer support, and every organisation is different.

  • Automate up to 90% of routine enquiries*
  • Reduce your average cost per enquiry from £5 to 5p*
  • Increase customer satisfaction by 67%*
  • Move your support team onto higher value tasks

*all results we’ve delivered for our clients

Get started now or book a discovery call with our pro team.