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Suncorp improves customer transfer rates using VeCommerces world first open dialogue financial services application



- Suncorp puts customer through to right call centre agent first time every time
- Implements world first open dialogue speech system specifically for Australian financial services industry developed by VeCommerce

VeCommerce Limited (ASX:VCM), a global leader in the provision of natural language speech recognition (NLSR), speaker verification and voice enabled e-commerce solutions, has been working for the last year with its client, Suncorp , to enhance customers telephone experience in locating and communicating with the right call centre agent.
To date, results from the speech enabled call routing solutions show increased customer satisfaction levels as well as improvements in service, operational and cost efficiencies such as a reduction in the initial call time by as much as 50 per cent representing substantial savings on monthly telco costs to Suncorp.
Suncorp is the largest Queensland based corporation, being one of Australias top 30 biggest companies (comprising of Australias sixth largest bank and second largest general insurance group) holding total assets of $36 billion and funds under management exceeding $9.5 billion.
Suncorps call centres are critical to its commercial operation and success. Currently, they handle 4.5 million calls per annum (forecast to reach volumes of over 400,000 calls per month). The call centres provide customers basic information such as branch location details, or more in-depth service and sales enquiries about insurance policy benefits and policy information, claims advice and lodgement, personal and home loan applications, wealth management products.
Its four main call centre sites are set up to allow calls to be distributed to the best skilled agent to answer the call. Suncorps queue-based call routing system, utilising push button menus, confused and frustrated customers who had to navigate several levels of menu options before speaking to an agent located in one of the 20 skill-based queues.
Suncorp decided on a natural language speech recognition (NLSR) solution to replace customer time spent within the IVR system as well as avoiding the navigation of a large key press option to get to the best skilled agent.
Speech recognition allowed Suncorp to provide its customers with a easier, faster and more efficient method of delivering the customer call to the best skilled, available agent the first time, said Andrew Mulvogue, General Manager, Personal Customer Sales and Service for Suncorp.
Suncorp selected VeCommerce as its speech-enabling partner in May 2002 with the project going live in December 2002. Our partnership with VeCommerce has delivered the right strategic, architectural and functional fit, said Mulvogue.
Adding another world first to its milestones, VeCommerce developed an open dialogue speech system specifically for the Australian financial services industry and provided Suncorp with an intelligent speech enabled front end for its entire organisation.
Incorporating VeCommerces VeConnect call routing application, the system contains an unique Australian Financial Services Statistical Language Model (AFSSLM). AFSSLM is based on actual caller intelligence of over 60,000 phrases from a base of 1,000 key expressions used to bootstrap the system
In a natural, conversational manner VeConnect and its AFSSLM extracts the meaning behind what the caller actually wants and, with additional skills-based routing functionality, transfers the caller seamlessly to the most appropriate agent for assistance without them having to struggle with confusing push button menus.
For example, if a caller says my credit card has been stolen, the system will immediately transfer the customer directly to Banking Customer Service rather than forcing them to ask the name of the functional department that deals with credit cards.
Whilst this seems to be a deceptively simple application for speech recognition, it is actually quite the opposite, said Paul Magee, Managing Director of VeCommerce. Suncorps callers can dial any of six 13 service phone numbers and be effectively routed into one of 20 areas of their business by simply speaking in a natural, and more importantly, unrestricted manner.
Three pilot stages preceded the system going live. Application development took less than three months, said Mulvogue. The new system is currently handling up to 17,000 calls per day at three call centre sites in Brisbane. The system is easily scalable for growth as the call volume grows or new speech applications come online. Phase one has taken over 4.5 million calls.
Suncorps customer satisfaction surveys support the fact that the companys customers have warmly embraced the new system. Improvements include a reduction in misdirected call rates to as low as 2.5 per cent and the ability to reduce the initial call time by as much as 50 per cent. This represents substantial savings on monthly telecommunications costs to Suncorp - call times being reduced to 35 seconds from 60 seconds on average.
The results are staggering, said Mulvogue. Our call lengths have been substantially reduced. For example, glass claims averaged 102 seconds in duration. Our target with the new system was to reduce this to 40 seconds and, today it is at 30 seconds.
We also have a much more granular knowledge about a callers request, because the caller is actually saying what they want as opposed to listening to a menu tree of options, said Mulvogue.
This assists the organisation to either create a new skills group or to identify repetitive transaction types which can be automated in the future.
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About VeCommerce the future is hear
VeCommerce Limited (ASX:VCM), is a global leader in the provision of natural language speech recognition (NLSR), speaker verification and voice enabled e-commerce solutions. VeCommerces core focus is to provide tailored business solutions, using the latest in communications and speech technologies, that allow callers to complete complicated but routine transactions or inquiries without the need to struggle with frustrating push button menus or having to wait for an available operator to answer their call.
VeCommerce can voice enable an organisations business systems and processes providing secure, easy to use and consistently available self-service facilities allowing customers to simply speak in a natural conversational tone over any telephone, significantly reducing the cost of each transaction.
VeCommerce clients around the world include: Pizza Hut, Motor Accidents Authority, Suncorp Metway, Ladbrokes, ASX Perpetual, Magna Entertainment, Auckland Co-op Taxis, the Ministry of Social Development (NZ) and 5 out of 6 TABs Australia wide. Visit www.vecommerce.com for further information.