North Wales Housing has become the first housing provider in Wales to launch a conversational AI chatbot from Futr. The chatbot, named Huw, sits on the website and is designed to answer a range of tenant queries at any time in just a few clicks.
Since its adoption, Huw has improved tenant engagement and access to services in both English and Welsh, with the latter being spoken by around 900,000 people across the country.
Within the first five months of launching Huw without any promotion, the bot has automated 1,200 questions with an average response time of 1.8 seconds, equating to an average saving of £7,000.
Brett Sadler, operations director, North Wales Housing, said, “Huw’s built-in auto-translation between English and Welsh makes the service as inclusive as possible for Welsh speakers. We already offer telephone services in both English and Welsh, but the addition of the Futr chatbot offers an additional digital touchpoint for tenants.”
In addition to the AI-powered chatbot, North Wales Housing is also using Futr’s live-chat system which triages and, where applicable, escalates urgent queries to a human agent.
Andy Wilkins, co-founder and CEO, Futr, said “North Wales Housing is setting a new standard for tenant engagement and experience especially for native Welsh speakers. Being able to provide services in Welsh is particularly important for the North Wales region of Gwynedd where 75 per cent of people identify as Welsh speakers. With the implementation of Huw, the housing provider is democratising its services and freeing up its employees to focus on more complex challenges.”
The chatbot was tested, trained and reviewed for a month, including testing with both staff and tenants, to ensure that the auto-generated Welsh dialogue flows were accurate.
Sadler said, “We spent a lot of time during the testing phase making sure that the Welsh translation option would be accurate enough for our customers. This included extensive testing from fluent Welsh language staff within the organisation. We were always clear that we would not sign-off on the new chatbot solution without assurance that the Welsh language option would be accurate.”