Annual Report 2023

Supporting Hillingdon Council’s digital transformation

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  • Case Study
How we helped Hillingdon Council become the first UK local authority to deploy an AI-powered voice and web chat solution at scale to improve how it serves its citizens.

Setting the scene

As a local authority, Hillingdon Council provides a wide range of services to its citizens in Greater London, including housing, social care, health, and waste collection.

While the Council had enhanced its online channels, call volumes remained high and staff at the contact centre were overstretched. It was also difficult for the Council to find and retain contact centre staff, with private-sector employers offering more competitive salaries. 

To deal with growing demand, Hillingdon Council sought to reimagine how it could serve its citizens better with digitally enabled services.

How we helped

Taking a human-led, tech-powered approach was essential to the success of Hillingdon Council’s digital transformation. To ensure the effectiveness of the new service, we started by conducting a survey to understand the nature of citizens’ queries. It found that a significant volume of queries were highly transactional and therefore suitable for automation.

We recommended working with our alliance partner Amazon Web Services (AWS) to jointly deliver an AI-based voice channel and web chat facility using Amazon Connect. This has a usage-based model, so costs are only incurred when a customer uses the service, and it could scale up and down to satisfy demand. With automated calls costing significantly less than those handled by a contact centre operative, the new service promised to deliver much better value for money while freeing up staff to help local people with more complex queries.

When implementing a new solution, getting buy-in and building the right capabilities is essential. Throughout the project, we worked closely with stakeholders at Hillingdon Council to ensure they had a voice in the development process. We also incorporated a 'see one, lead one, do one' process to foster learning among the council staff and prevent future dependency on third-party training.

“This is an example of the excellent relationship we have built with PwC. They understood our ambitions and have brought their insight and challenge to bear, building our confidence to leap forward with an innovative approach.

The performance improvement this has achieved means that the Council is more accessible to residents, Council staff can focus on more challenging and rewarding work and we have new skills that make us self-sufficient.”

Tony Zaman
Chief Executive, London Borough of Hillingdon

Making a difference

The AI-powered solution dramatically increased operational efficiency, with automated calls costing just 5% of the cost when handled by human operators. The solution has helped to achieve a return on investment that saves the Council £5 for every £1 spent.

Hillingdon Council can now handle 40% of all calls through its AI system, manage high call volumes effortlessly, and track metrics such as call success rates and call completion times. This digital transformation has also instilled a culture of innovation within the Council, equipping it to continue improving its services for citizens.

Following the experience of working with our team, the Council is working on developing a customer experience hub made up of service designers, automation specialists, web technologists and customer experts. Its aim is to continue to further enhance access to, and enquiries about, services so the Council can continually improve how it serves its citizens.

Contact us

Annual Report enquiries

Corporate Affairs, PwC United Kingdom

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