The birth of Mia – an insurance company’s first foray into bot technology

From conception to execution, Mia was created in just a few weeks.

A chatbot, developed by German insurance company VHV Versicherungen, Mia was created to help the company better support its customers who, in today’s hyper-connected world, expect round-the clock assistance and support.

Mia provides users with 24/7 answers to frequently asked questions regarding their insurance, and can help set up new policies while searching for independent brokers in a customer’s local area. She can also hand user information over to human agents, saving them time ahead of dealing with customers.

By helping existing and potential clients with their basic inquiries, human service agents can spend more time focusing on more complex problems, giving customers the best service possible.

Before starting the project, VHV carried out research to determine the acceptance of chatbots as a communication method, their influence on online sales, and effectiveness as a support tool – all areas which are served well by the flexible nature of chatbots.

But how did an insurance company create its own chatbot from scratch, in just eight weeks?

Laying the groundwork
It all began with a three-day workshop, in which VHV analysed the needs of its customers, and how its existing communications channels could be supported by a chatbot.

“One of the primary and most important use cases that our bot Mia was meant to tackle was to be able to quickly answer individual questions about the product at the point of sale in order to increase the conversion rate”, says Melanie Sachse, Online Marketing Manager, VHV.

“During this first stage, we only provided Mia with information about personal liability insurance” says Sachse, who was intensively involved in feeding Mia with knowledge.

The knowledge management and data enhancement of the bot itself was carried out by using Dynamics 365, which is easily integrated with the bot technology, alongside Microsoft’s Language Understanding Intelligence Service (LUIS).

LUIS was used to create Mia’s language models, alongside interviews with customer service agents to determine the most frequently asked questions. In conjunction with Microsoft’s AI and machine learning tools, Mia reached a stage where she could help users with their questions.

Microsoft Consulting Services also worked closely with VHV’s project team, with particular emphasis focused on the tech company’s Services Bot Reference Architecture – a flexible blueprint which was easily adapted to fit VHV’s needs, ensuring that Mia was designed from the ground up to meet their bespoke needs.

The launch
Six weeks further on, Mia was soft launched on VHV’s website, under the product page, while being shown to more and more users as time passed, allowing tweaks and adjustments to be made in a timely manner.

User reactions were also recorded, tested, and taken into account when making further adjustments, increasing further acceptance of the bot.

According to Saschse, “The access figures are very positive… and Mia’s error rate is low. Mia is currently providing us with more information about and for our customers in any case. And everything else can come in time. For example, we are considering developing new use cases for our sales partners”.

“The collaboration with the international Microsoft Consulting Services team was fantastic. The range of tools which Microsoft can draw upon is impressive”.

Originally launched as a three-month pilot, Mia’s development is now continuing, with potential for even more use cases.

For more information on Microsoft’s bot framework, please visit dev.botframework.com