Max Life Insurance: Building a conversational interface powered by Google Cloud and MediaAgility to solve queries and improve services

This story is originally published on Google Cloud blog.

Max Life Insurance uses Dialogflow, part of Contact Center AI, to provide a superior experience for customers while addressing queries on its services and connecting customers with relevant products.

Doubles satisfaction rate among customers

400% more traffic to customer service page over eight months

Chatbot helped to generate 38x more leads

Humans love the simplicity and convenience of AI, according to a report by voice of the customer platform Usabilla, which found that more than half of consumers see chatbots as a quick and easy way to engage with companies on customer service matters.

As this trend grows, more and more insurers are adopting machine learning and natural language processing to streamline their customer service operations, freeing up their human teams to answer more complex questions while tasking chatbots to handle simple queries.

“A surge in messaging apps, advancements in AI/ML, as well as more affordable data and mobile devices, is providing more avenues for brands to connect with customers. User behavior and expectations are changing. We wanted to stay relevant, so switching to Google Cloud was a strategic move.”
—Shailendra Nath Jha, VP, Digital Product Management, Max Life Insurance

As a leading insurer, Max Life Insurance offers a wide range of financial planning solutions to individual and group customers, such as life, health, retirement, child, and protection plans. Customers traditionally got in touch with the customer service department on the phone, via email, or by visiting a Max Life Insurance branch in person, but the company realized that in order to meet the changing expectations of today’s insurance consumers, it needed to update its approach to customer engagement. In 2019, the company began to focus on digitally transforming its customer service by building products in the conversational interface space.

“A surge in messaging apps, advancements in AI/ML, as well as more affordable data and mobile devices, is providing more avenues for brands to connect with customers,” explains Shailendra Nath Jha, VP, Digital Product Management at Max Life Insurance. “User behavior and expectations are changing. We wanted to stay relevant, so switching to Google Cloud was a strategic move.”

“We set a product vision: sell and serve to deliver enhanced customer experience, generate revenue, and reap cost savings,” explains Megha Jaggi, Chief Manager, Digital Product Management. “We divided the customer life cycle into three stages: pre-purchase, purchase, and service, and we identified relevant use cases for each one, across various platforms and formats.”

To do this, Max Life Insurance began developing a chatbot using the Contact Center AI solution, Dialogflow. Megha shares how it needed to work: “In order to recommend a suitable product to a customer, we have to go through a need analysis and map out a matrix where we recommend a product based on the goals set by the customer. This logic calls for a smart chatbot with the right features.”

The interactivity of the chatbot was important as well, as Hirosh Nina Gouthaman, Senior Manager, Digital Product Management at Max Life adds: “We wanted current and prospective customers to stay on our website for a longer period of time, allowing our chatbot to answer their questions thoroughly and generate stronger leads.”

“We’ve found Dialogflow to be a mature service when it comes to response, security, and integration with other applications. On top of that, Google Cloud provides all the documentation needed to implement the chatbot, which helped us to move through the process smoothly.”
—Anshul Thakur, Vice President, Product Development Group, Max Life Insurance

An all-in-one solution that serves customers from query to product

Max Life had previously used standalone bots for different use cases, including product recommendation and servicing bots, as well as bots for lead generation and campaign marketing. With the new chatbot, the key objectives were to combine these capabilities, handle larger volumes, and be more intuitive.

To improve the development of its chatbot, in May 2019 Max Life Insurance chose Google Cloud as its technology partner. The company names Dialogflow as one of the biggest benefits of moving to Google Cloud, along with resources that enable teams to get up and running quickly. “We’ve found Dialogflow to be a mature service when it comes to response, security, and integration with other applications,” says Anshul Thakur, Vice President, Product Development Group at Max Life Insurance. “On top of that, Google Cloud provides all the documentation needed to implement the chatbot, which helped us to move through the process smoothly.”

“One of the highlights of this successful engagement has been regular brainstorming between our SMEs and Max Life Business and technology teams to come up with new disruptive ideas.”
—Nirdesh Chahal, Country Head, MediaAgility

Working with MediaAgility helped to make the onboarding to Dialogflow a smoother process and encouraged innovative thinking between teams. “When Max Life chose Google Dialogflow as the technology of choice, it also chose us as the right implementation partner to help with its digital transformation journey,” shares Nirdesh Chahal, Country Head at MediaAgility. “One of the highlights of this successful engagement has been regular brainstorming between our SMEs and Max Life Business and technology teams to come up with new disruptive ideas.”

Max Life Insurance’s conversational interfaces product was developed by a dedicated cross-functional team comprising a product owner to drive the product roadmap, partnered with an in-house technical lead, design lead, and quality assurance lead. “Development was undertaken by a highly skilled team of developers from our partner, MediaAgility,” shares Megha. “We collaborated with MediaAgility consultants to brainstorm new market trends and potential use cases and collectively ensured efficient and error-free deployment.”

So, how has Max Life’s all-in-one query-solving solution been received? One noticeable transformation is its customer satisfaction rate, or percentage of customers who rated Max Life Insurance “helpful” after interacting with its chatbot. This number has doubled since last year to reach 60%.

The company today sees an average of 100,000 chatbot users per month on its website and 25,000 service transactions, which Megha attributes to a much improved conversation interface: “We’re now able to deliver better intent handling, improved conversation flows, and proactive reminders to action policy related issues and UI upgrades, which has led to a significant increase in site traffic over several months.”

From conversational interfaces to exciting business possibilities

Now that the chatbot has become a promising revenue-generating tool for the company, its development remains as a priority for Max Life Insurance. “This is a new source of revenue that has been created for the company, which did not exist a year ago,” says Hirosh. “We see this channel becoming one of the significant revenue contributors to the company in future.”

Max Life Insurance has already launched successful use cases of its chatbot, from using existing online messenger apps to continue a conversation with customers on their mobile devices, to maximizing the chatbot’s thousands of daily hits to reach out to customers who have recently made a purchase and recommend related products for them to add on. While the first iteration was focused mainly on customer self-service, the product roadmap for the chatbot involves exploring more use cases for sales and servicing, as well as prospecting. For the latter, the Max Life Insurance team is exploring speech-to-text to improve search volume among people who speak languages less commonly used in India.

“Looking at current industry trends, customers are more comfortable using options such as speech-to-text and vernacular,” adds Deepak Sharma, Chief Manager, Digital Solutions at Max Life Insurance, speaking of the company’s plans to focus on the development of natural language processing next. “For this, we’re exploring Google APIs, as we’ve benchmarked for performance, cost, and security and found Google to be the best choice.”

The way ahead: staying competitive, staying innovative

For Max Life Insurance, the next step in its digital business strategy involves harnessing data science to keep customers and attract new ones, while also seeking new ways to serve customers on their preferred platform. “We’re using Google Analytics to study how prospective customers move through our sales funnel, how smooth their journey is, and how we can improve it,” shares Deepak. “As part of this ongoing process, we have a separate unit specializing in data science to ensure that we have the best analysts in place and are able to maintain our competitive advantage in the market.”

As Hirosh shares, the next big focus for Max Life in the conversational interface space is to become channel agnostic. “We’re working on many new innovative use cases to serve customers on the platform of their choice, whether its their preferred messaging app or another platform,” he says. “We’re really excited about the journey ahead, and with the right product, we’re confident that we will be successful.”