New Conversational Platform on UC telephony

DWP is introducing a new technology called Conversational Platform into the UC telephony channel which will allow the department to be more efficient in providing information and assistance to support customers calling UC.

It will transform the customer journey by replacing traditional Interactive Voice Response call journeys (in other words, press 1 for X, 2 for Y) with a voice led solution which will interact with customers in a way that mimics human conversation.

The DWP Virtual Agent will ask the customer why they are calling today. The technology will listen to the customers response and will use automatic speech recognition and natural language understanding to identify what the customer is saying.

Once the DWP Virtual Agent understands what was said, it will personalise the customer’s journey and determine next steps and form a response, providing self-serve answers to straightforward enquiries. Where a further conversation with someone is required, the call will be routed through to a telephony agent.

The primary goal is to improve the customer experience.

Conversational Platform, through the DWP Virtual Agent, will allow our customers to speak naturally, securing better insight into why the customer is calling and enabling how best to respond to their enquiry.

It will be able to save customers the time they normally spend waiting to speak to someone, by providing self-serve directions to certain simple enquiries, thereby reducing call demand to agents. Where a further conversation with a person is required, Conversational Platform will help route to the right person first time.

If, at any point during their interaction with the DWP Virtual Agent, the customer asks to speak to a person, indicates they are vulnerable or notifies they are a phone claim, they will be taken out of Conversational Platform and routed to a telephony agent. We have also added limits on the number of error messages a customer can experience, or the number of times information can be repeated, meaning a customer will not become trapped in Conversational Platform. So, if it’s not working for them, we will route them to a telephony agent.

We plan to deliver Conversational Platform in UC in late September 2023 across 3 phases:

  • Phase 1: will be to introduce a Minimum Viable Product. Customers will interact with the DWP Virtual Agent and be able to self-serve answers to certain queries, with other queries routed to our Outsourcing Delivery Partner. Following deployment, there will be a period of Test & Learn for about 3 months to improve the platform as necessary.
  • Phase 2: will be to scale the Conversational Platform service by introduction of new opportunities for customers to self-serve, as well as exploiting opportunities to route calls to different destinations to enable a more proficient service.
  • Phase 3: will be to enhance the service, continuously improving it, as well as introducing new product features.

LA Welfare Direct 8/2023 – GOV.UK (

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