Meet Darcie our digital helper
Our digital helper - Darcie
Our AI-driven digital helper Darcie is an innovative new technology that allows people to communicate 24/7. They help thousands of people across the world every day.
Think of it like having your own personal assistant who can help you in real time with common questions and tasks. It means you can get instant answers and access information at any time.
The digital helper is an additional service that complements the other ways you can contact us. Darcie uses conversational AI to understand what you ask and reply to you in a human-like way. As well as webchat, you'll also speak to Darcie when you call us.
Using Darcie on the website
To get the best out of Darcie, start questions with, “How do I…”, “I want to…” or “Can I…”. Use four words or more but don’t make them too long. Try not to personalise the question.
If you don't get the answer you're looking for, try re-phrasing the question.
We have built in ‘Hints’ for the most frequently asked questions to help you find what you are looking for.
You can ask questions about many of our services including:
- Council Tax
- Blue Badge
- Pest Control
- Clinical waste
- Street lighting
Darcie will also search the website if your question can’t be answered, to find any helpful pages or documents.
Darcie continually learns and improves how to answer your questions. The range of subjects and knowledge will also increase over time. If you would like to provide online feedback when using Darcie, click on the ‘Rate this result’ button in Darcie’s response and let us know if the answer was helpful or not.
Speaking to Darcie on the phone
When you call us, Darcie will try to help you. If Darcie can't help, your call will be directed to the right person.
Previously, our phone system used a recorded message that gave you a list of numbered options. You had to press the option number for the team you thought might be able to help you. Darcie will have a conversation with you to understanding what you are looking for and transfer your call to the team that can help, if needed.
To get the best out of Darcie, try sentences such as, ”I want to pay my Council Tax” or “How do I report a missed bin?
If the answer contains an online option, Darcie can share this with you by sending you a link in a text message. When asked “Would you like this answer sent to you as a text message?”, say “Yes” to receive the message.
Let Darcie know if the answer wasn’t helpful and say that you’d like to speak to someone. By giving us feedback, it helps us to fix any issues and continue improving our customer service.
What we have done in Derby
We recognise the benefits of AI technologies and have chosen to implement this with the aim of providing better services for residents. Derby is currently a leading user of AI technology amongst UK councils.
In April 2023, we implemented an automated digital helper on our website to help you find information quicker and easier
After this and to help speed up the development of the technology, we rolled out a version of the digital helper to our phone system to replace the previous number-menu system.
Like most new technology, it often needs further development to overcome any early challenges or unforeseen problems. We’ve been listening to your feedback.
What we're doing right now
Now that we’ve implemented AI, it’s important for us to let you know what we’re improving and how it’s working for you.
Since Darcie began managing our phone lines, it’s taken around 200,000 calls. About half of these were transferred to human staff.
Darcie is here to support you and to work with our existing teams. Like any service, we constantly monitor and review how it’s working. For the service to develop, we need you to use it. If you feel like it isn’t working for you or something's not right, we’d like your views.
When Darcie asks for feedback after giving you a response, please tell us if the answer was helpful.
Why we are using AI
Better, quicker and more personalised services.
Whether our phone system uses menus or an AI assistant, there will always be changes in demand and a wide range of services that people need. Phone menu systems are limited in how much they can handle, especially for councils that provide lots of varied services. Unfortunately, they are often unable to help out-of-hours.
An AI digital helper can with a variety of requests, 24/7. Rather than being put on hold, a digital helper will try to answer your query or request (at the same time as answering lots of other people’s queries) and if it can’t, or if it detects you need immediate help, it’ll route your call to the right service as soon as possible.
It’s important for us to ensure that we always have alternative ways you can contact us. We’re committed to ensuring that our services are accessible to everyone
Most people contact us to ask similar questions or requests about a small number of services. Many calls often have a straightforward answer or can be resolved with simple advice. When these are automated with AI, it means our human staff can focus on more complex tasks and are able to give you the more personalised support you need.
AI and how it is used in the UK
Over half of the people in the UK have heard of AI and about a quarter have used it. AI is already being built into many of the digital services we are using every day.
Examples of AI in everyday life:
- Search engines Biometric device log ins, such as FaceID.
- Digital voice assistants, like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.
- What content you see in your social media feed.
- Smart home devices, like thermostats.
- Map and navigation apps with real-time traffic data.
- Banking – monitoring spending patterns to detect potential fraud.
- Product recommendations on shopping sites like Amazon.
- Recommendations on Netflix and other streaming services.
- Spam filters, spell-check, predictive text and writing tools like Grammerly or Word Editor.
- Services like Chat GPT and creative image services like Dall-E and Midjourney.
Further adoption of AI is likely to increase. In the UK, about 15% of all business have implemented at least one form of AI technology.