For the past six months, “Lizzy” has been working for HDI in Germany. Her name represents a chatbot integrated in HDI.de. “Lizzy” has been given the task of helping any customer who has taken out a motor insurance policy at HDI. This is because a lot of policyholders have specified in their policy that they are the only people allowed to drive the insured car. This cuts down their premium. However, if for example, a child is going to be permitted to take the wheel while the parents are on holiday, it’s perfectly possible to include an additional driver on the insurance policy for a limited period of time.
So far, many customers have found out about this possibility of additional drivers on the Internet page. But they frequently left the website before they concluded the transaction. This is why HDI has used “additional drivers” as a test case for the development of a customer chatbot, the first in the Germany Retail Division. HDI wanted to use “Lizzy” to test whether customers would even use a chatbot. The service is ideal for this kind of pilot because it offers a simple route to taking out the product. An existing web-based stream can then be replaced with an improved customer experience.
An interdisciplinary project team under the leadership of Mirijam Dieser, who works in HDI online marketing, developed the chatbot in cooperation with the in-house Digital Lab within the space of just twelve weeks. “This speed was facilitated by agile methods based on scrum management,” explained Mirijam Dieser. “We worked on it in six sprints each lasting two weeks. All the necessary interfaces, for example to the external partner PayPal Plus, were taken into account with the aim of setting up the online sales using shadow processing.”
Stefan Zurth, Innovation Ambassador in Sales & Marketing, also worked in the project team. “The user stories always have to be formulated in very concrete terms so that our IT colleagues are able to implement them directly. A precise definition of the project setup at the outset also regulates cooperation and communication. We used a kanban board for project implementation. The daily meeting emerged as an important device for coordinating day-to-day activities. This method of plotting every stage of the project brought everyone in the multifunctional team up to speed on progress.”
People take over as necessary
“Lizzy” can only answer what she has learnt in the first place. The crucial factor is feeding the machine with information and training it. When “Lizzy” comes up against the limits of her knowledge, an employee from HDI next GmbH in Rostock takes over during service hours.
This means that the customer experience is the best possible one and designed to ensure that a policy is taken out. Furthermore, when a human takes over the chat process, this actually helps to train the chatbot. Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of the chats take place fully automatically without any human intervention. But the system has not remained with the original test field of additional drivers. So far, the bot has received nearly 2,500 customer enquiries relating to other motor issues and general service queries. And “Lizzy” has been able to answer them together with her human colleagues. HDI has also been collecting ideas on other possible applications for “Lizzy” and for new chatbots.
Chat with “Chatty”
“Chatty” is the name of the chatbot at HDI Service AG. Since April 2019, “Chatty” has been active for human resources department throughout Germany. Meanwhile, the bot has chatted with staff more than 3,100 times and answered general questions from people about topics like application for special leave, parental leave or the employee share programme. “Chatty” can’t answer all the questions yet – but the algorithm is hard at work on a learning curve. If “Chatty” doesn’t know the answer or the employee is not satisfied with the information, a real person takes over. However, last year the chatbot was already able to answer one third of all the questions received and this took some of the heat off employees in human resources. What’s more, the people asking questions are also happy: “Chatty” is available 24/7 and enquirers receive a quick response to their questions.