Signal Iduna wants to meet its customers at eye level and focuses on the excellent quality of the customer dialogue. The telephone service is also in focus. After all, this channel represents a direct point of personal contact between the company and its customers. The insurance company meets the challenge of connecting each caller with an appropriate contact person with an intermediary routing facility.
Back in 2016, IP Dynamics installed a Voxtron Communication Center (VCC) at Signal Iduna on an existing Skype for Business infrastructure. At the end of 2017, the insurance company then decided to integrate a modern voice portal into the system. Previously, Signal Iduna was using a simple Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, where callers could press buttons (DTMF) to navigate through a two-stage voice menu. However, select buttons are limited as they offer too few selection options.
All routes lead via the voice portal
The new voice portal aimed to reduce customer call forwarding rates and shorten caller waiting times. For this purpose, the existing IVR navigation had to be replaced by a system based on natural speech recognition. The new voice portal needed to greet callers friendly, recognize their concerns and, if necessary, authenticate them by asking for their insurance policy number and customer data. The extensive data protection check, which previously had to be carried out by employees, was to be automated through the new voice portal. Following successful routing, a CRM interface was to provide the relevant service employee at a glance with all information given to the voice bot by the customer. In addition, a so-called “smartlink” feature was to be integrated so that the voice bot could refer customers to self-service offers on the company‘s website. However, the system was not under any circumstances to be used to circumvent dialogue with employees. Where an enquiry could not be successfully dealt with by the voice portal or a caller declined a self-service option, the voicebot was, where possible, to connect the caller directly with a human colleague.
“The particular challenge we faced with this project was thinking through all possible dialogue paths in advance”, says Dr Jürgen Haas, IP Dynamics’ manager of the project. “This required us to map the entire spectrum of phrases that customers use to describe their various issues. To guarantee successful customer dialogue, a voice recognition system must ultimately be prepared for all eventualities.”
One and a half years from concept to go-live
The project was launched in January 2018. First, the project team devised a detailed concept. Formal basics were clarified, Works Council approval was obtained, data protection issues were resolved and the routing targets for the new voice portal were defined. “During the conception phase, IP Dynamics’ vast experience from similar projects paid off,” says Andrea Schmidt, project manager at Signal Iduna. “IP Dynamics gave us valuable tips on fine-tuning voice recognition and dialogues”.
IP Dynamics started technical implementation at the end of 2018. The first task was to create a technical basis using the latest voice and customer interactive technologies to enable natural dialogues. The required technology was integrated using the Dynamic Flow (DFW), IP Dynamics’ central workflow engine with voice portal functionality. As well as enabling connection of a voice recognition engine, the DFW also made it possible to integrate the CRM system used by Signal Iduna.
To overcome the aforementioned challenge of considering all potential dialogue paths and the entire spectrum of callers’ phrases, one of the first tasks was to collect keywords and phrases. Later, the grammars of speech and request recognition were significantly improved by evaluating recorded customer conversations. Ideally, the bot is tailored to customer’s language, while corporate technical terms are avoided. The voice portal was fully tailored to Signal Iduna’s requirements by individual dialogue structuring. Finally, the functionality of the processes, the comprehensibility of the questions, etc. were tested and further optimized in extensive customer tests.
“More time for excellent service.”
Since June 2019, all calls received by the insurer’s customer service department have been routed by the voice portal. Every day, the portal processes over 5,000 calls. Most callers are immediately routed to the correct specialist department. The system recognizes customer concerns and, if necessary, identifies and authenticates them. The service employees are thus relieved of repetitive tasks and can focus on consultation-intensive conversations. “Thanks to the relief provided by the bot, our employees now have more time to provide excellent service,” says Andrea Schmidt. The customers, on the other hand, are pleased with the reduced waiting times and the direct transfer to a qualified contact person. Hardly any caller reacts annoyed to having to talk to a bot first.
The project was also successful because the responsible team worked in perfect harmony. A productive knowledge transfer developed between the colleagues from IP Dynamics and Signal Iduna during the project. “As well as being a great technical match, the team also gets on well from a personal perspective”, Schmidt sums up. “The smooth cooperation with IP Dynamics has enabled us to overcome all challenges and complete the project on schedule.”
The detailed reference report on the integration of a modern voice portal at Signal Iduna can be found here.
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