Just because technology is advanced, doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for your business. That was the lesson a major US property & casualty (P&C) insurer learned the hard way. Its investment in a sophisticated natural-language Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system was costing the company in abandoned calls, missed opportunities, and poor customer satisfaction.
The IVR operated on a natural language recognition basis, letting callers explain in their own words what they were calling about. That’s a great idea in theory – but only if the system has been taught to recognize and understand the words callers use.
In this case, the system had been given a vocabulary when it was implemented but hadn’t been taught anything new since. So as the terminology used by customers started to change, the IVR wasn’t able to interpret their needs.
The situation came to a head when the insurer started receiving calls in response to a TV advertising campaign. Callers were speaking the words and phrases they’d seen in the campaign, but the IVR didn’t understand and couldn’t route callers to the right agents. Two major investments – the IVR and the ad campaign – had effectively canceled each other out.
We teamed up with the insurer to conduct a usability evaluation of their current experience and determine the main reasons for customer contacts. Using real customer data as a point of reference, the team proposed a simplified technology approach that would present callers with a manageable set of options, using the same conversational language that callers themselves naturally used. The interaction between the caller and IVR still felt like a conversation, but one where the IVR was able to accurately understand the needs of the caller and respond swiftly.
Specifically, the team spent time with the insurer’s agents and listened to incoming calls to determine customers’ main reasons for calling, created a streamlined menu of options, implemented the solution, and set up new reporting capabilities to more accurately reflect the efficiency of the IVR.
The result was an improved customer experience at a reduced cost.
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