Using AI to Support Member Engagement

We talk to Laura Stevens and Polly Bull from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, winner of the Best Use of AI category at the 2020 memcom awards.

09 Nov 2020

We believe that chartered accountancy can be a force for positive change. By sharing our insight, expertise and understanding we can help to create strong economies and a sustainable future for all.


What are the current challenges we can expect to see over the next year?

For professional bodies, the challenge during uncertain times is making sure that we are supporting our members on all levels. As our members are accountants, we need to be covering all new financial legislation in our regular comms work in a constantly changing economic landscape. 

As we have members working in all sectors of the economy, from small accountancy firms to the big four, across all industries, the pandemic’s dramatic and long-term impact on the economy means that our members are at the forefront of dealing with new government support packages and measures. 

To help our members build back better over the next year, we will continue to provide researched guidance and key thinking from experts.

We will also listen closely to our members, so we know what they need. Initiatives like the AI chatbot help us gather research into how we can better serve our stakeholders through our digital offering.    


What can the membership sector learn from other industries?    

At this uncertain time, it is important that we learn from and listen to experts in other sectors.  We can look towards the education sector when it comes to ensuring our qualifications are carried out according to best practice, staying up to date with the latest advances in education provision and professional development. 

We can also learn from the tech sector when it comes to being proactive and forward-thinking, embracing new technologies that may require some level of risk, but could deliver significant returns in the long run. 

Finally, the membership and association sector can learn from the public sector when it comes to embracing a public interest mandate. At ICAEW, we are regulators and professional standard-setters, and it is important to ensure our work is always done with the public good in mind. 


What future trends do you think we'll see over the coming months in AI? 

AI technologies are becoming cost effective and more widely available than ever before. Thanks to their convenience, reliable information and instant results, I believe we'll see such technologies expand further into household appliances, gadgets, vehicles and workplaces, especially as we're becoming more secluded by COVID. From a business perspective, I expect many organisations will invest in retraining employees to fill skill gaps caused by the need to adopt AI.  

Our chatbot, Mia, started off very simply as a concept back in 2017 as a bot for one of our faculties. In its first year, the chatbot increased webpage visits by over 200% and more than 1,600 conversations took place.  Now Mia has handled close to the same number of conversations as our webchat team and become a common contact channel for many of our stakeholders. This will only grow with the further development that has already begun.


Key facts    

  • In 2019 Mia exceeded targets by holding over 20,000 conversations throughout the year. 
  • Overall, 47% of conversations with Mia have taken place outside of our core UK operating hours. Mia has quickly become one of our most important communication channels for an “always-on” international operation.   
  • 7% of users have had more than one conversation with Mia.  
  • 8% of members that have interacted with Mia during the window to pay their fees and subs have subsequently gone on to pay. These enquiries would have otherwise had to have been answered by phone or email before they would have paid.  
  • The time taken to release a new bot has come down from several weeks to 30 minutes, enabling us to react to events in close to real-time.  
  • As Mia’s recognition of intents improved, we raised her confidence level from 40% to 60% and grew the number of conversational intents from 148 to 257 over the course of 18 months.  


About ICAEW 

There are more than 1.8m chartered accountants and students around the world and 186,500 of them are members and students of ICAEW. They are talented, ethical, and committed professionals. 

ICAEW promotes inclusivity, diversity and fairness. We attract talented individuals into the profession and give them the skills and values they need to build resilient businesses, economies and societies, while ensuring our planet's resources are managed sustainably.

Founded in 1880, we have a long history of serving the public interest and we continue to work with governments, regulators and business leaders around the world. We work to ensure trust in the profession and accountability from all our members. Find out more.


The memcom membership excellence awards

The memcom awards celebrate excellence in the membership sector.  The full list of 2020 winners can be viewed here. Nominations for the 2021 awards open shortly.

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