Enhancing Barking & Dagenham council enquiries with EBI.AI

05 October 2023

Barking & Dagenham council (B&D) was experiencing an overwhelming number of enquiries about missed bins. They identified that they needed an AI assistant that could confidently handle waste enquiries about missed bins, bin collection schedules and bulky waste collections, 24/7, 365 days a year, to take the pressure off their teams.

End-to-end journeys
B&D duly signed up for an EBI.AI assistant to tackle the problem. There were several queries about bin collections they needed to address urgently:

‘When does my bin get collected?’

‘What day does my recycling bin get taken?’

‘Is my bin collected the same time each week?’

For their AI assistant to handle these kinds of enquiries from start to finish, it had to be able to understand the address first. B&D were able to link up their AI assistant with their council systems so it could access their catalogue of addresses and postcodes, and bin collection schedules. Now, when residents ask the AI assistant about waste collections, they’re asked for these details. Over the past three months the success rate for the AI assistant to resolve these kinds of queries from start to finish is 98%.

Within six months of the new AI assistant for waste going live, B&D reported a 6% reduction in call centre calls. After nine months, it was trained to answer thousands of enquiries across five more departments too, including council tax, parking, permits and penalty charge notices, benefits housing repairs, and registrars.

Using EBI.AI’s platform for conversational AI, B&D were able to expand their AI assistant across departments at no extra cost. The AI assistant is well publicised on their council web pages, now handling thousands of enquiries about multiple topics - and it’s easy to add more.


“The chatbot is transforming the way our customers access information. We believe we can enjoy better customer relationships by allowing customers to contact us via the channel of their choice. Our next focus is to allow our customers to complete end-to-end journeys via the chatbot,” said Dwain Nicely, CX & digital manager at B&D.

Saving on critical communications
With the new AI assistant, B&D began to make significant savings. Every enquiry into the B&D contact centre costs the council around £4.80 and they get 40,000 a month. With the AI assistant handling 10,000 of those in the first six months, that’s a massive saving on council spending, which can only increase as the AI assistant takes on more tasks.

It’s also proven popular with residents. Having an AI assistant online 24/7 showed B&D early on that 28% of their queries come in outside of office hours, at a time that’s convenient to their customers. Getting to know customer preferences in this way means B&D can improve services and satisfaction.

Moreover, now that B&D can see customers are happy to use their AI assistant across a wide range of departments, they’ve seen a reduction in calls to their contact centre. Their agents now have more time to focus on more sensitive enquiries or difficult issues that need the human touch.

According to EBI.AI, the AI assistant enables responses to be edited in seconds to deliver consistent messaging on critical matters for the audience. For example, should schools be closed due to poor weather, instead of having to update websites and multiple agents manually, B&D can simply tell the assistant, which disseminates the information.

Shaping AI for local government
The EBI.AI team of conversation analysts continually review conversations between B&D residents and their AI assistant, looking for patterns to see where improvements can be made, and new departments added if needed.

Like many councils, B&D want to see reports and statistics for their AI assistant, to be involved and track progress, and to get a real understanding of the value they get from using AI. The EBI.AI platform has an easy-to-use dashboard, to view the most popular topics, track success rates, see the number of out-of-hour queries, and more.

Since residents need a council for help with everything from recycling and parking to marriage and benefits, EBI.AI’s assistants are cross-departmental. Councils can add as many new queries as they like, from any department, to keep it growing.