The Swiss speech solutions provider Spitch and the IT service provider NTT DATA have jointly introduced a voice assistant for customer service and support in remote channels for Basler Insurance. The pilot project was implemented within just seven months despite the lockdown caused by Covid-19 pandemic. The voice assistant based on open dialogue-based natural language understanding (NLU) developed by Spitch enabled Basler to further strengthen customer experience, minimize waiting time, steer calls precisely, and understand customer concerns even better. Evaluations carried out since the solution went live in November 2020 confirmed the high level of acceptance among the customers and employees. The fact that Spitch systems understand Swiss German dialects proved to be the key success factor once again. The test-run laid the foundation for further implementation and expansion of the solution within the company.
Around 450,000 of approximately 800,000 customer inquiries that Basler Insurance receives annually in different remote channels are still made by telephone. This shows the potential service volume that the virtual assistants could help handle automatically.
The aim of the pilot project was to avoid manual call steering for selected services through the targeted recognition of customer intents so that the calls could be steered automatically. Direct call transfers to respective experts would significantly improve customer experience. In addition, the employees should also have been able to save work time taken up by the manual call steering to build up capacities for processing more calls.
The new solution enables callers to express their requests or concerns spontaneously in one sentence in High German or in Swiss German dialects. The customers can use the virtual assistant after selecting the "Other" option. The voice assistant powered by the open-dialogue NLU recognizes the reason for the call and steers the customer call directly to the right operator. At the same time, the operator receives a transcript of the customer request on his or her screen, being informed of the call topic at the start of the conversation. In addition, Basler gets a wealth of data to analyze identified queries and concerns to enhance customer experience further and raise efficiency.
Since going live, an average of 9,000 German-speaking customers have been communicating with the virtual assistant every month. Customer intents were correctly recognized in 85% of the incoming calls and routed directly to the right agents. This helped improve efficiency of the customer service in remote channels, with around 1,000 calls per month being processed automatically offloading this workload from the contact centre specialists, since the first use case went live. It clearly showed that all the project goals could be effectively achieved.
Beate Hofferbert-Junge, Head of Customer Service “Non-Life” at Basler Insurance, comments: “The successful implementation of this project under the difficult circumstances of the pandemic in such a short time once again confirms the culture of innovation that prevails in our company. The top priority has always been to increase customer benefits and internal efficiency through the use of innovative solutions. The new system has been very well accepted by both our customers and our employees. This success was only possible because everyone involved, including those responsible for the project implementation, employees, solution providers and, at the forefront – the IT integrator NTT DATA, always pulled in the same direction”.
In fact, according to our survey results, employees say that the voice assistant helps them to become “superpowerful” in creating positive customer journeys characterized by simplicity, empathy, and humanity that customers value so much.
Pierre Klatt, General Manager NTT DATA Switzerland, says: “This project by Basler Insurance is a pioneering achievement for the Swiss insurance industry. A voice assistant that frees up employees’ work time and leads customers to the information they need much quicker is the ideal example of technologies of the future that makes people's work and life easier. We are pleased that, in close cooperation with Spitch, we were able to contribute to another project success for our long-standing customer thanks to our know-how in implementing pioneering digitalization solutions”.
Stephan Fehlmann, Senior Business Development Manager Spitch AG, comments: “The implementation of this project by Basler Insurance illustrates the business benefits delivered by our speech solutions based on open-dialogue NLU, especially in the financial and insurance sector. The added value generated by our advanced NLU systems in terms of efficiency, cost savings and customer experience is a key success factor when implementing strategies to enhance competitiveness of the financial sector companies in the future”.
Contact us to learn more about this and other projects by Spitch and the conversational AI innovations for the financial services sector.