Clerk of the Superior Court in Maricopa County: Delivering fast, accurate answers to the public

By | 2 minute read | May 21, 2020

The Clerk of the Superior Court in Maricopa County, based out of Phoenix, Arizona, receives thousands of service requests each day from its 4 million residents. Citizens often reach out with time-sensitive requests, like applying for marriage licenses, renewing passports and accessing court records. The Clerk of the Superior Court employees were becoming inundated with requests, slowing down already cumbersome processes and leading to citizen confusion.

Unlike most other IBM clients, the Clerk of the Superior Court isn’t in a “competitive industry” – but that doesn’t affect their mission. Their goal is to provide public services to their citizens in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. They turned to IBM Watson to achieve that goal.

Providing citizens and employees with fast and consistent service

The Clerk of the Superior Court deployed IBM Watson Assistant to engage with citizens and employees, infusing AI into their workflows to provide better customer service, while reducing costs and standardizing responses across channels. The Clerk’s Office first offered Watson Assistant to their employees to enable self-service over Slack, allowing Watson Assistant to answer employees’ questions, create help desk tickets for complex issues and generate critical reports.

After the initial success, the Clerk’s Office deployed Watson Assistant as a virtual agent for citizens, avoiding long wait times over the phone. The Clerk’s Office offers a truly omnichannel experience, providing Watson Assistant not only on the web using Watson Assistant’s out-of-the-box web chat, but also over SMS, and through voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant, so citizens can make appointments with simple voice commands from home. The Clerk’s Office also integrated Watson Discovery, IBM’s enterprise search capability, with Watson Assistant to pull information from documentation for complex questions regarding policies and procedures.

When it was time to deploy Watson Assistant, the Clerk of the Superior Court realized they needed to be smart about their launch, as the COVID-19 outbreak was just beginning. During this time of uncertainty, the team thought citizens might want to only speak with humans, rather than interact with virtual agents. But after a soft launch, the team saw higher usage and satisfaction by the public than they anticipated. Due to the state’s shelter-in-place order, the Clerk’s Office’s virtual agent was critical in answering questions and helping citizens file documentation without going to the court in person or waiting on the phone.

With Watson Assistant, citizens and employees are getting fast, accurate and consistent answers, and agents are able to focus on their more complex and satisfying work. In just the first month, Watson Assistant handled around 70% of conversations without human intervention, and agents found they saved around 100 hours of handling inquiries directly.

What’s next for IBM Watson and the Clerk of the Superior Court in Maricopa County?

One unexpected benefit from working with Watson was that the Clerk of the Court developed a better understanding of their citizens. After the launch of Watson Assistant, the Clerk’s Office gained insights into their citizens’ needs. Based on these insights, the Clerk’s Office made decisions on what services to provide citizens remotely during COVID-19 and what actions to feature on the website, further improving the customer experience. “This is just one of the many innovations we have in mind,” says Aaron Judy, Technology Innovation Strategist at the Clerk of the Superior Court in Maricopa County. The Clerk’s Office also plans to deploy Watson Assistant for Voice Interaction, expanding their omnichannel vision to include telephony.