Voicebot – A new colleague in customer service

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.

If you are also inter­ested in automat­ing your cus­tomer dia­logue, please do not hes­i­tate to con­tact us.