New Forest District Council opts for Speech Recognition

Telephonetics VIP, the speech recognition and voice automation specialist, is helping New Forest District Council improve services and meet government targets by implementing an innovative speech driven self-service payment system for council tax payers.

Telephonetics VIP equipment already handles in excess of 250 000 incoming calls a year for New Forest District Council. They provide the automated telephone call handling system used by the Council’s Customer Services, Tax & Benefits, Housing and, most recently, the switchboard.

New Forest District Council receives over 8,000 incoming phone calls a year from council tax payers wanting to pay their council tax using a debit or credit card. Until recently, these calls had to be handled by human operators. The new, ground-breaking, fully-automated system from Telephonetics VIP enables taxpayers to call the council to make payments at any time, day or night, without the need for an operator. The money is collected and customers’ council tax accounts are electronically updated to show the payments. The self-service payment system from Telephonetics VIP operates 24 hours a day, adding to convenience for council tax payers.

Andrew Taylor, New Forest District Council comments “Although initially designed to accept council tax payments, the system will soon also be able to accept other types of payments such as parking fines. The concept of speech recognition technology also has exciting implications for the provision of other routine services in the future.”

Initial customer comments have been very positive and usage is expected to grow as more taxpayers realise that they can make their monthly council tax payments with a short phone call at a time that suits them.

Adding to direct debit, standing order and internet payments, this is now the fourth automated method of payment to be made available to customers.

Mike Matthews, Head of Product Management, Telephonetics VIP, concludes “According to the recommendations of the Varney report, Government services must be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and resolve 80% of queries on first contact. As the telephone is still the preferred method of contact for many people accessing government services, speech self-service can ensure these targets are met whilst also contributing towards the Varney report’s 25% target reduction in operating costs.”

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