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Digital human joins customer service team at Southern Cross Health Society

Digital human joins customer service team at Southern Cross Health Society

‘Aimee’, the AI-powered digital assistant, was developed with UneeQ

Credit: Southern Cross Health Society

Aimee is part of a wider digital strategy to bring more intelligent automation to the health insurance sector

Roxanne Salton, Southern Cross Health Society

‘Aimee’, as Southern Cross Health Society’s latest digital crew member is called, will initially answer common questions such as the value of health insurance and how the health system works. 

She will also provide easy-to-understand information about insurance-specific terms like pre-existing conditions. 

It’s expected that longer term, as she learns from conversations and better understands people’s needs, Aimee will answer more in-depth questions. 

Customers can interact any time with Aimee on desktops, tablets and mobile phones. 

“Aimee will play a pivotal role in helping us to be there for our members 24x7, and deliver more value to them right when they need it,” says Southern Cross Health Society chief executive Nick Astwick.

Intelligent automation

 “Aimee is part of a wider digital strategy to bring more intelligent automation to the health insurance sector and we are thrilled to have Aimee join the team as a virtual crew member,” says Roxanne Salton, chief digital officer at Southern Cross Health Society.

Credit: Southern Cross Health Society

Aimee is not only the first digital human created specifically for the NZ health insurance industry, but we also believe this to be a world-first for a health insurer

Roxanne Salton, Southern Cross Health Society

 “Kiwis have come to expect a high level of care and empathy from Southern Cross, and Aimee will be an extension of these values across our digital channels.”

“Aimee is not only the first digital human created specifically for the New Zealand health insurance industry, but we also believe this to be a world-first for a health insurer,” Salton tells CIO New Zealand. 

“Southern Cross is proud to be leading the charge on digital innovation in the sector.” 

She says being able to harness emerging technologies like interactive digital humans allows the team to not only streamline internal processes which result in business efficiencies, but also lets them provide an elevated level of service and ultimately deliver more value to their members.

Co-design

Astwick says Southern Cross Health Society employees were heavily involved in the creation of their new colleague, including deciding on her gender, age, facial features and personality.

“We set out to create a digital human that was purposefully distinctive to Southern Cross,” he says.

“When it came down to what qualities resonated the most and what our people wanted, we landed on an appearance that we believe reflects New Zealand today. We have had anecdotal feedback that Aimee looks like someone they know and we believe that familiarity will help build trust.” 

Credit: Southern Cross Health Society

We have had anecdotal feedback that Aimee looks like someone they know and we believe that familiarity will help build trust

Nick Astwick, Southern Cross Health Society

Astwick says unlike buying a new phone, for example, decisions around health insurance feel more personal. 

“Other industries in New Zealand like banking and retail have been working with digital humans, but the way a consumer seeks and values information about products in those sectors is vastly different,” he states.

“We understand that when it comes to health insurance, people can feel quite vulnerable and emotions come into play. People often need reassurance they are making the right choices for themselves and their families and we’ve designed Aimee with this in mind.”

Southern Cross used UneeQ’s Intelligent Digital Human Platform to design, build and deliver their digital experience. This includes brand-elements brought to life through personality, face, appearance and voice. 

Innovative technology has been instrumental in the development of Aimee’s voice which uses a customised synthesised version of a human voice that is recorded in a studio. It is believed to be one of the first times this technology has been used in New Zealand. 

Credit: Southern Cross Health Society

We have integrated Aimee into many proprietary systems that required close collaboration with the Southern Cross technical team

Gus Matheson, UneeQ

Aimee was a result of incredible teamwork, says Gus Matheson, solutions architect at UneeQ.

“Our platform makes the deployment of digital humans at scale possible, but in this case we have integrated Aimee into many proprietary systems that required close collaboration with the Southern Cross technical team,” says Matheson.

“This collaboration has been key to the success of the project and ensuring what is deployed is a reliable, measurable and infinitely scalable experience,” he adds.

“Collaboration between UneeQ’s integration team, from conversation development to user experience, with Southern Cross allowed both teams to bring out the best of a digital human experience.”  

UneeQ chief executive Danny Tomsett says encouraging customers to self-serve via digital channels increases efficiency and can drive down cost, but people are wired for connection. 

“UneeQ can create digital humans that listen, speak, show empathy and communicate in the way only humans could before,” says Tomsett. 

“Everything, from their unique appearance to their personalities, are co-designed to create the most positive, lasting impact on users.” 

Anna Tarasoff (head of data & analytics capability), Roxanne Salton (chief digital officer) and Ragu Vullinga (data presentation designer): 'Southern Cross Health Society employees were heavily involved in the creation of Aimee, including deciding on her gender, age, facial features and personality'Credit: Southern Cross Health Society
Anna Tarasoff (head of data & analytics capability), Roxanne Salton (chief digital officer) and Ragu Vullinga (data presentation designer): 'Southern Cross Health Society employees were heavily involved in the creation of Aimee, including deciding on her gender, age, facial features and personality'

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Tags mobile appsAISouthern Crossvirtual teamstrustcustomer focuschief digital officerUXcxCIO and CMOCIO50martechdigital humanRoxanne SaltonmobilityNick AstwickUneeQvirtual crew

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