LV= rolls out smart speaker skill

General insurance firm says customers will receive answers to commonly asked questions by invoking the skill on Alexa or Google Home Assistant

LV= General Insurance (LV= GI) has introduced an Alexa voice skill for customers who have Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant smart speakers.

The insurance company said the application enables car insurance customers to ask questions about their policy using their home assistants. Initially, the skill will be able to handle more than 500 policy-based questions, said LV= GI. These commonly asked questions have been collated from LiveChat and call centre queries.

The company said it plans to update the voice skill regularly to add or refine answers, and update the software when required.

According to LV= GI, the voice assistant skill will be able to handle the 28,000-plus questions on policy documents that are received by call centre staff each month, freeing up time for more in-depth call-handling or claims.

LV= GI said the reason it developed an application that enables customers to use their smart speakers to find out policy information was to help people who are less able to use a computer or telephone to check their documents. 

Last year, analyst Gartner predicted that consumer and business spending on smart speakers would top $3.5bn in 2021, providing an untapped channel for businesses to use to interact with customers.

LV= GI has estimated that there are 13 million smart speakers in the UK.

Jon Mansley, sales and marketing director at LV= GI, said: “With the launch of this new voice skill, customers can now find out details of their policy in a matter of seconds, simply by asking their smart device.”

However, as is the case with any skills not pre-integrated into the smart speaker, the customer needs to invoke a command to launch the skill, in this case, saying: “Open LV.”

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Describing how the skill was developed, Mansley said: “What was clear from the outset was that our executive team saw the benefit in doing this, so, with their backing, we were immediately able to start work on delivering the project.

“However, one of our biggest challenges was turning potentially dry written policy information into realistic conversational language, while still ensuring that accurate and compliant information was provided. We believe what we’ve created has successfully overcome this challenge and we’re very pleased with what we’ve delivered.”

LV= GI worked with specialist agency Rabbit and Pork to build the voice assistant functionality, and plans to add other products to the voice assistant skill app.

When analyst Forrester looked at smart speakers in April 2019, it marked them down because they often failed to provide direct answers. “Instead of providing a quick response, most of the time, the IA [interactive assistant] made us go find the answer,” wrote Forrester analyst Collin Colburn in a blog post. “For about one-third of our questions, we were redirected to ‘something on the web’ for more information.”

Colburn also noted that smart speakers suffer from bad user experiences. “We, as humans, engage in conversations all the time, and naturally, we are hyper-aware when responses we receive to our questions are too fast or too long,” he wrote. “Specifically, at times, Alexa spoke without the regular human cadence of speech and Cortana blabbed on for more than 30 seconds at a time.”

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