Speech analytics for Manulife

Ember’s speech analytics service gave global financial services provider Manulife invaluable insights to enhance its omnichannel customer experience and improve the performance of customer service advisers.

With over 26 million customers and US$860 billion of assets under management, Manulife is one of the world’s largest financial services providers and has a history going back over a century. Today, it operates under its own brand name in Canada and parts of Asia, and under the John Hancock brand in the US, offering insurance and a range of wealth management services.

Manulife’s contact centres are a key part of its frontline service, managing thousands of calls every day. But like most major financial services companies, it takes an omnichannel approach to customer interaction, including self-service and a range of digital channels.
As a result, the contact centre team was aware that its workload was changing. Many simple transactions are now completed online, with a growing number of customers calling only when they are unable to solve an issue themselves. That, in turn, means that by the time the customer calls, they may already be frustrated; if the contact centre process is then unwieldy, the impact on customer satisfaction grows.

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Taking the Guesswork out of Demand

Manulife wanted to build a clearer picture of the calls it receives and how they are dealt with. It recognised that speech analytics could offer a potential solution, examining in detail the calls the company receives to understand the drivers of demand. But though it had some analytics software, Manulife lacked the expertise to draw the relevant insights from call data. Instead, it turned to Ember.
“Like many companies, Manulife was using analytics tactically,” explains Simon Hunt, VP of customer strategy. “But instead of examining a small set of calls round a specific issue, we wanted to get a detailed picture of all the issues that compel customers to call us. Ember was able to provide that, giving us robust data that we could then take action from.”

Volume and Value

Over a six week period, a small Ember team analyzed more than 2.1 million calls, classifying them into different categories and subcategories. As well as looking at what triggered the call, Ember focused on the nature of the call: was it something that customer service advisers could add value to, or could it be dealt with more efficiently via other channels?
As a simple illustration, Ember’s analysis highlighted how many calls Manulife fielded from customers needing to reset a password. Not only was this taking up adviser time for a very simple task, but it was also clear irritant from the customer perspective. The company could improve the customer experience by enabling customers to reset a different way – while freeing advisers to focus on more complex enquiries. That alone provided a clear business case for change.

“The drivers of demand analysis gave us a really clear baseline for our operation,” Simon confirms. “It helped us understand where we could reduce volumes and prioritize digitization.”

Looking at Individual Performance

But the benefits of analytics didn’t just focus on taking work away from the contact centre; Ember’s work is also helping Manulife improve the service provided by the contact centre.
The analysis extended to individual agent compliance and performance against key service metrics. Simon sums this up simply: “Through Ember’s work, we now know who needs to be better at what.” That, in turn, is providing a catalyst for targeted coaching in the contact centre, as well as informing full-team training.
For Simon, there were two fundamental advantages of using Ember: speed and specificity. Ember’s expertise and resource meant that it could provide Manulife with insights far faster than the in-house team would have been able to. Further, those insights offer a level of detail that instantly justifies an action for improvement.

Ember’s input is influencing our overall direction. They defined the analytical terms, executed the analysis and produced clear reports that help us make decisions.”

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Learning from the Experts

There was one final benefit too: while delivering the project, Ember worked closely with Manulife’s own analysts, giving them the capability and confidence to undertake future analysis in-house.

Ember upskilled my team: that was awesome. Better still, when our guys have a query, they know they can still ask Ember to check that everything’s configured correctly. Ember doesn’t just work within the terms of reference: as a partner, we feel they’re aligned with what we are trying to do.

About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. We operate primarily as John Hancock in the United States and Manulife elsewhere. We provide financial advice, insurance, as well as wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. At the end of 2017, we had about 35,000 employees, 73,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving more than 26 million customers. As of September 30, 2018, we had over $1.1 trillion (US$863 billion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months, we made $27.6 billion in payments to our customers. Our principal operations are in Asia, Canada and the United States where we have served customers for more than 100 years. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong.

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