Why you may want to think twice before asking to speak to a human

8 minute read

Aegon is implementing robotics capability to automate processes and free up manpower to add real customer value. The result? Faster processing, reduced costs, increased accuracy and – most importantly – enthusiastic customers.

In just nine months, Aegon UK's Digital Solutions (DS) department has delivered over 18 robotic automations, some of which span numerous processes. The conclusion? There are some tasks that robots simply do better.

The human face of robots
Often operating invisibly, these automations have been given a human persona in the form of Robbie the Robot, and according to Elaine Maddison, Customer Service Director, DS, Robbie has become a well-known and loved part of the team.

"For the processes we've automated, Robbie has helped us deliver a 20% reduction in processing times, she says. "This works brilliantly in processes like 'change of address' and 'expression of wish' where there has been a 31% and 21% reduction respectively."

For the processes we've automated, Robbie has helped us deliver a 20% reduction in processing times.

Elaine Maddison, Customer Service Director, Aegon Digital Services

Robbie's biggest challenge, however, is yet to come – the team are working on automating the set up process in their Workplace platform. This is the process for entering new company pension schemes into the company's systems. "Our initial estimates are that it will reduce the current processing time – the time it takes complete the process from start to end – by 75%," says Elaine.

Improved customer experience
Creating capacity is the DS team's number one goal and how the team measures success, but what Robbie does best is to allow the whole of DS Operations to focus on what matters most – customers. "We're gradually removing the manual steps in our processes by giving them to Robbie and that means we can deliver a better customer experience all round – which is ultimately what being Agile is all about," says Elaine.

There have, of course, been lessons learned along the way. Robotics can be an emotive subject. One of the team commented that it was "arguably the biggest change across DS" since he had joined the business. Having teams trust – and believe in Robbie – was a significant initial hurdle.

Increased accuracy
In the Netherlands, Aegon is utilizing a robotic process to handle customer requests to change addresses or bank account details for products with direct debits. Around 90% of Aegon's customers in the Netherlands pay by direct debit, which results in more than 100 requests to change direct debit details each day. Previously this meant manually updating information across various systems.

By using Robotics Process Automation (RPA), 95% of all requests can be automatically completed, with no manual intervention from employees. The RPA can process these change requests quickly, and the customer receives a notification by post in just a couple of days.

Instant updates
Trials are currently underway to send confirmation via text message. This means that customers can sometimes receive a confirmation that their request has been processed, less than an hour after submitting it.

Aegon is examining other opportunities to utilize the RPA technology to streamline processes across its business, such as processing payment approvals for one-off payment requests. An investment program will continue into 2018 to help continue to improve customer experience.

Sharing expertise
Aegon's Center of Excellence for Digital has also been facilitating the sharing of learnings across Aegon's businesses around the world. This year, Aegon Hungary benefitted from the experience in the Netherlands for automatically handling Life Insurance policies reaching maturity, leading to much quicker implementation. Over the coming months, learnings from this experience will be applied to speed up the implementation of robotic automation for Home Insurance cancellation.