PwC with London Borough of Hillingdon

Performance Improvement in the Public Sector

The London Borough of Hillingdon – as with other local councils – sought to reduce its costs while continuing to provide the same level of service, or better. It also had ambitions to become a modern, well-run, digital council, and had tried to nudge local residents toward using online channels. However, demand for voice interaction remained high, so the Council continued to employ around 70 FTE staff in its contact centre.

Hillingdon Council had therefore identified voice communication as a priority area for transformation, and wanted to implement an automated voice platform that gave its residents access to Council services whenever they needed, while also enhancing its service offerings – and achieving financial efficiencies.

Rather than risk the cost and length of a major transformation, Hillingdon Council initially asked PwC to help it find efficiencies and improve its service. After reviewing the evidence, PwC recommended a range of initiatives, including automated voice handling, with an objective to reduce Hillingdon’s call-handling requirements by 20–26 FTE, while also equipping its team to own, improve and extend the system in future.

PwC’s initial work, to develop the business case, identified a range of potential efficiency improvements, such as enhancing the information provided online (to reduce the need for contact centre support), removing the email communication channel, and providing a new web chat option. The popularity of voice calls, however, led PwC to recognise it as an important channel to retain, but one that offered significant potential for efficiency improvements.

PwC recommended several initiatives that could be delivered by transforming Hillingdon’s contact centre operations. By adopting the cost-effective Amazon Connect platform, PwC helped the Council integrate its contact centre, telephony and business systems, allowing many transactions to be automated. In particular, the consultants’ use of conversational AI allows the Council to continue offering natural-language voice calls, with the option of human support where needed.

It was important to build up the client’s capability, and minimise its future dependence on third parties – including PwC and AWS. PwC instituted a learning approach that would equip the Council’s contact centre and technology teams with a thorough understanding of the technology and implementation process, and prepare them to make future developments themselves.

PwC’s innovative approach helped reduce the cost of operating the contact centre, while improving its quality of service: so much so that the firm has overturned conventional wisdom, and showed that a well-implemented voice solution can deliver better ROI than a shift to online channels. To create lasting benefits, PwC worked with its technology partners to train the Council’s teams, leaving it self-sufficient and confident to build on the firm’s work, and continue improving its savings and services.

The engagement has successfully led to significant service and cashable efficiencies for Hillingdon Council, and PwC’s centrepiece initiative – the AI-powered handling of contact centre calls. While the project was expected to release 12–14 FTE from the contact centre by Christmas 2022, PwC achieved 16, and the projected future efficiencies continue to be on target.

View the PwC profile in the MCA Members Directory.