First public sector role for AI customer service agent

22nd Jun 2016

Enfield Council has announced that it will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform ‘Amelia’ to work as a virtual agent from later this year. It will be the first time a public sector body uses AI for frontline customer service work and is likely to re-ignite the debate about whether or not AI is the future of customer service.

The Amelia platform is the creation of multinational technology company IPsoft.

“The digital revolution has opened up interesting new service delivery routes for public bodies, but it has also placed high expectations on them,” says Frank Lansink, IPsoft CEO EU, of the changing customer service landscape. “Organisations can now not only unlock significant cost efficiencies as routine, high-volume tasks are automated, but also, more excitingly, unlock the full creative potential of their people.”

At Enfield Council, Amelia will be tasked with helping residents in a number of ways, such as making it easier for them to locate information, complete standard applications and authenticate applications for permits and licenses. If the virtual agent cannot answer a question, it calls in a human colleague and learns from them.

The acquisition of Amelia follows 350 redundancies at Enfield Council in the last year. It needs to save £56 million by 2020 after £118 million of government cuts.

“Our approach to transformation embraces digital technology to find new ways of supporting residents,” says James Rolfe, Enfield Council’s director of finance, resources and customer services. “In turn, this frees up valuable resources for reinvestment in frontline services.”

In the private sector, Amelia has previously been trained to carry out a variety of customer service related tasks. These include managing IT service desk queries for a European bank, managing invoice queries for a global oil and gas company, providing policy guidance to mortgage brokers for a high street bank and assisting frontline customer service agents for a large US media services organisation.

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