A more intelligent approach to waste management

A council in the Midlands region were getting a lot of calls from people asking questions about rubbish bin collections and waste management. A lot of these enquiries were quite similar and answering the same questions repeatedly was taking up an increasing amount of time. SCC worked with the council to develop an intelligent chatbot service that converts the speech of callers to text using natural language understanding. The system then uses AI to pick out certain keywords or phrases and provide an automated voice response based on pre-set criteria. This was integrated into the existing call-centre for the council. Queries that can’t be answered by the chatbot function are re-routed to a member of the council’s waste management team. They can also be re-routed, based on sentiment analysis. If the system determines that a caller is becoming frustrated, it will route the call to a human automatically, quickly and seamlessly dealing with the issue. Importantly, the chatbot can also deal with multiple calls simultaneously. Before it was deployed, a sudden surge of calls from the public might have overwhelmed the entire waste management team – and tied them all up at the same time. With the chatbot, the chances of that happening are much smaller. This is a fairly simple application that makes good use of natural language and AI and analytics technology to reduce the time that staff spend dealing with enquiries. It also ensures that a good and consistent level of service is delivered to members of the public. Without these technologies, the only real solution would have been to make more staff available to field calls, increasing cost. Or to try and provide more information to the public – through a mailing and marketing programme and / or providing more information on the council’s website. However, even if a significant effort and budget was put into it, there would have been no assurance that a traditional direct mailing and marketing campaign would have had any real impact, and a lot of good information on rubbish and recycling is already available on the council’s website. The chatbot however, allows the council to field more calls in a uniform and professional manner without incurring major on-going costs. And where the situation is more complicated, the caller can still be routed to a member of staff. It also means is that the team can spend more time focusing on more difficult or pressing issues, instead of spending valuable time dealing with routine enquiries from the public. The system can easily be integrated into the council’s social-media channels, so if they wanted to put a chatbot covering waste management on Facebook, SCC can implement it there to help reduce call volumes to the call centre. Click here to read how emerging technologies can be used in your organisation. For more information on our Innovation services please click here.
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