By: Katya Stead, Independent Financial Journalist
Momentum Life moves to cut complaints by 50 percent
Call centres have been a fixture in Insurers’ client interaction, regulatory compliance, sales and complaints handling for many years. Momentum Life, one of South Africa’s largest long term insurers, uses four call centres to field thousands of calls from clients every month. As with all financial service providers, these interactions have massive scope for clients to either sing their praises from the rooftops… or broadcast their failings all over social media and to the Ombud.
Imagine if insurers could proactively predict client complaints before they are escalated to a reputation-damaging level? Thanks to the pioneering use of voice analytics and machine-learning technology by InsurTech company Voyc, this is now possible.
For any insurer, identifying interactions that leave customers unsatisfactorily served is like finding a needle in a haystack. Momentum needed to be able to identify problematic situations before they even became a problem.
“The reason we were very interested in Voyc is not only from compliance point of view but specific to how we can improve client experience,” says Esther Nkosi, Head of Client Care and Client Experience at Momentum Life. “There are various tools in the industry, such as VoC and silent listening’. We have these tools in place, but they don’t allow you to be proactive and not at the volume that Voyc can monitor calls. With these systems, you cannot hope to monitor all calls, just trust that the ‘bad ones’ get picked up. Agents also become very robotic when they know someone is looking over their shoulder as with silent listening. Voyc solves these problems.”
“As a business we are past the reactive – the client complaining and then we react,” says Nkosi. “We now want to act on our own accord, to see problems before the client does. It’s not about the client holding us accountable – it’s about us being proacting in how we solve client problems. It’s about the client experience. If we know you are so unhappy that you would rather seek external help, the intention is not to stop you, because that is your right. It is about using that opportunity to connect meaningfully at the client’s pain point. Also, we can later say to the Ombud that we were proactive in investigating the matter with the intent to solve it.”
Voyc is an InsurTech which harnesses the power of AI software to monitor & improve call centre quality assurance & agent performance. Founded by South African fintech entrepreneurs Matthew Westaway and Lethabo Motsoaledi in 2018, Voyc’s enthusiastic clients already include Momentum Life, MiWayLife, 1Life and Bryte Travel, which uses Voyc to monitor all their Standard Bank, Investec, Nedbank and Absa Travel calls.
“We were introduced to Voyc by our group strategist,” recalls Nkosi. “We were very quick to run with Voyc because of the value we saw. We quickly rolled it out to our Investo call centre.”
Voyc’s unique AI listens to thousands of call centre conversations each week. The solution utilises Instant Speech Analytics and Root Cause Analysis to identify emotions and phrases and pinpoint calls that require further attention. These calls are then emailed in user-friendly automated trend analysis reports to the insurer.
The beauty of the Voyc system is that far from AI replacing employees, it empowers employees. It allows Client Complaints Teams and Call Centre Managers to focus on the important issues. Conversations that are flagged by Voyc are sent with an alert for team managers to listen to. This ensures that interactions which require urgent attention are dealt with quickly and are not lost in the noise of monitoring thousands of calls.
“Voyc allows us to do an introspection very quickly,” says Nkosi. “It can be as real time as your system allows it to be. Whatever you want to put as an alert, such as a client saying, ‘I am going to social media’, you can set that as an immediate flag.”
Momentum went live with the Voyc system in its Investo call centre on 1 July 2020. Thousands of calls have been processed so far and as of 19th October 2020, an average of fourteen calls a week are flagged and sent to Momentum to listen to.
The results were impressive. “In the week in question, eight cases were deemed to be serious escalations. About 50 percent were confirmed as ‘would have definitely gone to the Ombuds.’ As of yet, none of the eight have gone to Ombuds after we engaged with clients further,” says Nkosi. “Voyc is only running in one call centre at the moment but, seeing how well we were able to rescue these situations, I can confidently say we should be able to reduce the complaints by 50 percent in all other interactions as well.”
Thus far, Voyc has monitored more than 60 000 calls for Momentum to date.
“It’s a very user-friendly system and we were each trained individually by Voyc on how to use it. Even us old people can work it!” says Floraine van Buuren, Momentum Life’s Ombud Liaison. “It has definitely helped with the COVID chaos. I can’t listen to 500 calls, but Voyc can.”
According to van Buuren, Momentum is very happy with the results thus far, and will be rolling out Voyc into larger sections of their book, going from just the Investo clients to onboarding Myriad and Momentum’s traditional platforms.
“It’s been an incredibly enriching experience to add value to a sector as important as financial services,” says Voyc’s Matthew Westaway. “There was a call, which was sent to Nkosi and the Momentum team, in which an elderly lady gave valuable feedback. The woman had been retrenched and needed to cash in her pension fund. As is standard procedure, she got sent all these forms and had to go to the bank. She then told a Momentum call centre agent that “for elderly people, I advise that you make the font on your forms bigger and simplify it, because insurance is taken out when you are younger but the benefits are only taken out when you’re older.” The Momentum team were so happy to receive that feedback of something to look at potentially improving in future, as well as an opportunity to meaningfully bond with that client over her experience.”
Westaway hints at myriads of new applications technology, such as Voyc’s, that could be used in the industry. Not just from a compliance perspective, but to truly harness the data goldmine call centres have without having to employ the manpower to mine it.
Says Voyc co-founder Lethabo Motsoaledi: “Apart from just flagging specific words and phrases such as ‘Ombuds’ or ‘I want to speak to the CEO’, Voyc has built up more than a dozen class libraries of phrases for NTU alerts, fraud alerts, product, potential leads and sales objections. This means that Voyc’s applications can extend beyond TCF requirements and add value in fraud detection, product development, user experience and as a plug in for sales CRM systems.
“We’re changing the industry – but we are not asking the insurance industry to change,” adds Motsoaledi. “The insurance industry is a very legacy-based system. What we quickly learned as a startup is to be flexible when working with that legacy. We are a plug in to your systems. You can sign up for Voyc online and get your quality assurance automation and management up and running in two to three weeks.”
Westaway agrees. “Instead of aiming to overhaul Insurer’s systems, Voyc has focused on operating within the existing constraints. For example, we’re the first solution that can score calls against a script with a complex underwriting decision tree. This was a very difficult problem and we had to use all our background expertise as qualified engineers to solve it. We have not seen this capability in any other offering on the market.”
More importantly, Momentum’s IT team agrees too. “Voyc was fast and painless to setup, configure, assess cyber risks and ultimately resulted in happy business users,” says Head of Systems Architecture at Momentum Metropolitan Paul Steyn on Voyc’s website.
“Just like the financial services sector, we believe in great client experience,” says Westaway, adding that Voyc hopes to engage more with intermediaries and brokers in future. “Why should companies be seen in a good light for treating customers fairly when this is, in essence, what every company should do? In the past, the challenge has been for companies to show that they are treating their customer fairly. With Voyc, that’s now a real possibility.”