Prudential Singapore puts Watson AI to work to increase sales agent performance

Key Points:

  • Prudential Singapore’s 4,600 financial consultants (FCs) serve as the insurer’s key customer touchpoints. Their ability to access and deliver prompt and relevant advice to customers at any time is vital
  • Facing steady growth in customer and business volumes, Prudential recognized it needed an easily scalable and cost-effective solution to support a growing number of queries from FCs
  • Prudential created a scalable, intelligent chatbot to provide FCs with real-time customer-specific policy information
  • Known as askPRU, the chatbot is designed to handle a high volume of commonly-asked queries, liberating call agents to focus more on complex tasks. Within six months from launch, call volumes have fallen 30 percent at the call center
Tsui Lin

Tsui Lin, Head of Customer Management, Prudential Assurance Co. Singapore (Pte.) Ltd.

Prudential Singapore is a leading life insurance company serving close to one million customers. Providing quality advice and prompt service to them are our 4,600 financial consultants (FCs) who are constantly on-the-go.

To enable our FCs to stay on top of their game, we challenged ourselves to create a solution that provides them easy access to a library of information at their fingertips. Somewhat like a handy pocket advisor that is able to follow them wherever they are.

This is critical as our FCs form one of the key customer touchpoints for our business, and their ability to deliver prompt and relevant advice is vital. For complex processes, having a central repository of data is extremely valuable as it helps guide our FCs to sing the same (and more importantly, accurate) tune when providing advice to customers.

As we continue to experience steady growth in customer and business volumes, we are also mindful of the need to develop an easily scalable and cost-effective solution to support a growing number of queries from our FCs.

Determining the direction

We considered expanding our call center but put it to rest rather quickly due to its lack of scalability.

In contrast, intelligent chatbots are highly scalable. For instance, a single well-designed chatbot can serve an unlimited number of humans concurrently. On the other hand, a human call center agent faces the limitation of being able to only attend to a single person at any given time.

This led to the birth of our chatbot, askPRU, which is the first in Singapore’s life insurance industry to provide real-time customer-specific policy information.

Designed with Watson technology, the chatbot was trained to understand and anticipate a FC’s intent and to deliver answers to more than 1,000 commonly-asked questions in a human-like manner.

For more complex questions that require clarification, askPRU makes use of Watson Assistant dialog to confirm the intended question before displaying the most relevant answer for it. To make the content base even more robust, we tap into a custom Watson Discovery collection where we store additional sets of frequently-asked questions which would come in handy for our FCs.

How has askPRU changed Prudential Singapore?

In today’s world of instant gratification, no one enjoys being put on hold. But with askPRU chipping in to take off a significant load of frequently asked questions, the average speed of answering calls has been reduced by almost half to just nine seconds today. Further, the chatbot’s ability to respond to a high volume of commonly asked queries has liberated our call agents greatly. Within six months from launch, call volumes have fallen a staggering 30 percent.

In addition, with askPRU, our FCs enjoy real-time access to their customers’ policy information at any time—day, night or weekend—and when they’re on-the-go. This is valuable to FCs because customers tend to be the most satisfied with professionals who solve their problems the quickest.

This is a splendid example of how artificial intelligence has helped us free up our call agents’ time to do more meaningful and value-creating work. This includes providing prompter support for more complex issues, which in turn allows our FCs to offer a more specialized quality of care to their customers. The reduction in mundane tasks has also lightened the spirits of our call center employees.

Moreover, our trusty askPRU chatbot will never get tired of answering the same questions again and again. So it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

What’s next?

We’re just getting started with askPRU, but we’re heartened by the results seen so far.

We will continue to engage our FCs through focus sessions to tap their insights and explore new ideas for enhancement. For example, our FCs have shared that in the next iteration of the chatbot they would like notifications on their customers’ birthdays or when premiums are due.

Longer term initiatives we are considering include equipping the chatbot with the ability to understand user emotion, bringing it one step closer to becoming ‘human’ in its ability to accurately interpret context and identify frustration, for example, early and get agent assistance.

With technology, the sky is the limit. If we can dream it, it could one day become reality.