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North Wales Housing Association First in Wales to Launch AI Intelligent Chatbot

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North Wales Housing Association has become the first housing association in Wales to launch a conversational chatbot by AI technology provider.

The chatbot, Huw, sits on the website and is designed to answer a range of tenant queries 24/7 in just a few clicks, thereby freeing up time for customer support teams to handle more complex challenges.

Since its adoption, Huw has significantly improved tenant engagement and access to services in both English and Welsh, which is spoken by about 871,000 people across the country. Within the first five months of launching Huw—without any promotion—the bot had 404 users. The bot has automated 1194 questions with an average response time of 1.82 seconds. This equates to an average cost saving of £6,979.

Brett Sadler, Operations Director at North Wales Housing, said:

North Wales Housing has been providing homes and delivering services for over 45 years and currently provides homes and services to over 2,700 households across North Wales, spread across Gwynedd, Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Wrexham. Huw’s built in auto-translation between English and Welsh, makes the service as inclusive as possible for Welsh speakers, who are predominantly located within our catchment area. We already offer telephone services in both English and Welsh, but the addition of the Futr chatbot offers an additional digital touchpoint for tenants choosing to access the service in this way.”

In addition to the intelligent chatbot, NWH is also using Futr’s live chat solution which helps to triage and escalate urgent queries to a live human agent, resulting in improved resident engagement and satisfaction.

Andy Wilkins Co-Founder and CEO at 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% of people identify as Welsh speakers, the highest percentage of any county in the country. By adopting Futr’s AI-powered solutions, NWH is democratising services and freeing up employee time to focus on bigger challenges.”

The chatbot was tested, trained and reviewed over a period of one month — including testing with both staff and tenants — to ensure that upon deployment, auto-generated dialogue flows in Welsh were accurate.

Brett Sadler, Operations Director at NWH, 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 with sufficient assurance that the Welsh-language option would be accurate.”

NWH’s use of Futr’s chatbot won them second place in the ‘Communicating with Tenants and Residents’ category at the 2021 Good Practice Awards organised by Tpas.