Alix, Acerta’s proactive digital assistant
We went to work with Acerta and made up an ambitious multi-year roadmap to build Alix, the digital assistant — always ready to answer questions clients didn't even know they had.
Imagine that your customer service team has to process hundreds of inquiries a day, ranging from helping with payroll calculations to answering questions of starting entrepreneurs and giving legal advice to accountants. Responding to these questions can take a while, and customers expect an answer quickly these days. Very quickly. That's why we went to work with Acerta and made up an ambitious multi-year roadmap to build Alix, the digital assistant — always ready to answer questions clients didn't even know they had.
Providing real-time support effortlessly
Wanting to offer real-time support seems obvious. Actually offering real-time support is not so easy. Building a scalable and efficient customer service department is not as straightforward as it appears, especially if you are the country's leading full-service HR services group.
With over 1.575 employees spread across 28 offices in Flanders, Brussels, and Wallonia, Acerta performs about 670.653 payroll calculations per month and functions as the HR partner of 6.150 accountants, 306.000 self-employed persons, and 55.000 companies - quite the endeavor. Now, they have one employee who works 24/7 and never gets tired. Meet Alix.
Alix onboards new clients, helps them with repetitive tasks, and proactively informs them instead of answering to questions. Now that Acerta has Alix on board, they can provide automated and real-time service to its customers at all times.
What distinguishes this digital assistant from other, more reactive chatbots is that Alix is deeply integrated with Acerta's business logic. We defined rules and triggers for key moments in the user journey that drive the assistant’s conversational flow. For instance, when a payroll specialist logs into My Acerta at the beginning of May, Alix will proactively inform them about holiday allowances. Due to this proactive way of communicating, there is no need for a question-answer type of flow. We built contextual scenarios for every use case with Acerta's experts, so Alix can pop up with the right information at the right time.
Today, events in time mainly trigger these scenarios. To scale the virtual assistant, Acerta has drawn up an ambitious multi-year roadmap and target architecture to strive for a maximally integrated solution across various platforms. In addition to 'time' triggers, 'event' triggers will be added. Think of clicking on a specific button on the website and the assistant popping up at the right time. This way, Acerta can provide a better customer experience and proactively give customers the right information. As the conversational flows are based on different personas, Alix can provide custom advice to customers: think of payroll advice for payroll consultants and tips for starting entrepreneurs.
Even though we have a long road ahead, innovation comes one small step at a time. The lean startup method is a well-known method to implement new technology and enable change. Using this method, we have already successfully launched our first MVP — a minimum viable product — for a limited number of users.
Now that Acerta has Alix on board, they can provide automated and real-time service to its customers at all times.
The technology behind Alix: Oswald
We believe customer experience can be elevated with natural language processing for different reasons. For instance, this way, you can reach your customers omnichannel, automate parts of customer service, and, most importantly, anticipate and resolve problems before customers get in touch. Because when they get in touch, they are probably already annoyed. So, simply reacting to customers puts your customer service team on the back foot, whereas proactive automation, like in Acerta’s case, can provide a true solution. This way of working offers answers before issues persist and become more significant problems. So, we had to look at a solution powered by NLP, and Oswald was the obvious choice.
Oswald provides a visual and intuitive interface where you can create advanced conversations. After carefully thinking out the necessary conversational flows, we integrated the Oswald widget into the My Acerta platform. This platform is the customer portal where clients can easily find all information they need. Using the Oswald widget, Acerta can proactively send messages based on data and logic.
Measure, build, learn. Sounds familiar? It's the world-famous and proven concept of Eric Ries. Together with Acerta and Oswald, we made a custom analytics dashboard where we can measure key metrics. This way, we can always pivot or persevere. This means we can create a digital assistant that fits customer needs by keeping in mind open customer feedback.