Standard Life Implements ‘Intelligent Call Steering’ for Life and Pensions - Delivering Powerful Operational and Customer Service Benefits

Maidenhead, Berks - 25 January 2007

Leading UK financial services provider, Standard Life, has successfully implemented a natural language voice recognition (NVLR) system for its Life and Pensions business provided by VeCommerce, a world leader in the provision of Intelligent Call Steering, voice self-service and speaker verification systems.

Over the past decade, Standard Life has transformed its customer service levels from “pretty average” to “world-class leaders”, through the implementation of a ‘Lean’ approach to service delivery, reducing the frequency of enquiry failure and driving operational efficiencies and improvements.

“An indication of the success of this seamless approach to delivering service is that customers feel in control rather than feel they are being controlled,” confirms Peter Inman, customer services director at Standard Life. “We needed to continue to deliver market-leading service and not compromise our world-class standards – and we have achieved that aim.”

Following an industry-wide review, VeCommerce was selected to drive improvement in Standard Life’s teleservicing capability based on its enviable reputation as a provider of advanced speech recognition solutions. As a first step, a VeCommerce-led “Discovery” project was initiated, to provide the insurance giant with a strategic blueprint for the use of speech.

“Our solution essentially helps customers in three distinct ways,” confirms VeCommerce sales and marketing director, Tom Risbrook. “Firstly, it ascertains what the call is about and, where necessary, takes the customer through the security checks quickly and efficiently in order to fully authenticate the customer. Depending on the issue, the system can then answer the query or transfer the caller to a Customer Service Representative (CSR).

“Critically, it transfers the call to the right department: what’s more, the details the customer has already given appear on the screen in front of the relevant member of staff, so the customer does not have to go through the frustration of having to repeat their answer. The system is highly intuitive and mirrors the interaction a caller would have had with a CSR.”

Standard Life’s NVLR system, affectionately known as ‘Sheila’, has already delivered major operational and customer service improvements and recently won a top award in The Innovators 2006 Award, run by Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) in partnership with Ernst & Young. The impressive list of business benefits includes:

· 25 per cent capacity and flexibility increase for handling calls in the teleservicing centre, through the promotion of self-service

· 66 per cent reduction in misrouted calls by better first-time routing to the right advisor, resulting in higher levels of first-call resolution

· Improved security check process saves up to 40 seconds per call – consistently and auditable

· Opportunity to simplify the pre-existing 150 contact numbers to a single contact number

· Ability to implement skills-based routing

· Reduced training costs, as new starters are able to handle less complex calls earlier in their training schedule.

“Most importantly,” confirms Risbrook, “all these gains have been achieved whilst maintaining the already impressively high level of customer satisfaction and service. At the same time, the VeCommerce solution provides a more comprehensive understanding of why customers are calling Standard Life, which feeds back into its Lean approach to service delivery.

“Recognised as an industry pioneer, our single point focus and continued innovation confirms VeCommerce as one of the most experienced application developers and solution providers in the industry,” he adds. “As a result, we believe the Standard Life ‘intelligent call steering’ implementation to be the most advanced within Financial Services in Europe today.”

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