New Forest District Council says it has improved access to services with speech-based automation technology.
The new system, from Telephonetics VIP, is handling about 250,000 incoming calls a year for the council, providing the automated telephone call handling system used by the council's customer services, tax and benefits, housing and, most recently, the switchboard.
New Forest District Council receives more than 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 system 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.
Andrew Taylor of New Forest District Council said, "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. Speech recognition technology also has exciting implications for the provision of other routine services in the future."