"Hi, I'm Elena, how can I help you?" With this simple sentence, Enel Energia has taken a further step forward in its relationship with customers. Elena is a virtual assistant based on a complex artificial intelligence engine, which integrates the human factor in customer management with a series of functions that make the experience faster, easier and more complete. The bot provides clear and immediate answers , for example it is able to activate the Web Bill , enter self-reading or check the activation status of the supply.

"Elena has a super-power: is available immediately, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, optimizes the time needed to manage customer needs or acts as a facilitator, collaborating with operators human beings », explains Filippo Ruggiero, head of Virtual Channels, one of Elena's“ parents ”. "All this has always the purpose to guarantee the customer an easy and personalized experience ".

The centrality of customers in the Enel Energia world is the key to understanding the reason for such a significant investment in artificial intelligence. " Elena's identity is the result of the work of an extended team and, as with all major projects, customers are an essential part of it. To decide what it would be like, we asked who should use it what kind of interlocutor they would expect ", says Marco Frattini, Head of Marketing and Supply.

The needs that have shaped Elena's characteristics, functions, traits and name have been collected in these focus groups. The design work was interdisciplinary, involving all kinds of skills, from marketing (starting from the needs of the customers) to information technology (that is, developing the tools to satisfy those needs). In 2017 the Innovation Laboratory was created, in which the experimentation of Elena's first functions was born. After the first encouraging results, roomAV was created, a working group involving more than 15 multidisciplinary teams that led it until its debut a few months ago.

"Before diving completely into the design we identified the context and studied our history and that of the world around us. We looked for inspiration in and out of the energy world. Elena is constantly evolving , not only in terms of learning, but also her identity and personality ", explains Marcello Landolfo, Head of Customer Digital Hub, responsible for the design and implementation of solutions digital for Enel's energy market. The bot can respond on the channel that the customer finds most comfortable (Telegram, the first to be launched, the site, Facebook Messenger, the telephone channel or WhatsApp), because, as Ruggiero summarizes, "luckily Elena is always the same. The artificial intelligence engine is the same and this guarantees uniformity in customer management, regardless of the contact channel ".

The experimentation carried on in the first phase of the project, and the best technologies available in the sector, allow Elena to offer a smooth and efficient conversation with the customers, who are able to obtain an answer in a very short time to many practical needs for supply management. The final result of the work on Artificial Intelligence is to put the bot in a position to untangle itself from the variety of language and possibilities of interactions. “We know that our voices are different, complex and variable. Voice commands and conversations are hard to process between people, imagine how difficult it is to talk to computers », Landolfo tells us. "Yet Elena is able today to understand the heterogeneity of ways a concept is expressed and manages different needs in the most appropriate way, improving day by day through a dedicated team of Knowledge Engineers". Andrea Regazzo, as Head of the Digital Factory dedicated to Customer Service processes, followed the development step by step. He tells us two indicators to evaluate the progress: the call deflection and the percentage of understanding. "The first is Elena's autonomy, her ability to manage customer needs without resorting to the support of a human colleague. The second one measures the cognitive abilities that lead her to understand the natural language and get the correct answer thanks to the self-learn ability. The data tell us that Elena has reached an excellent level of autonomy and high cognitive abilities ».

And now? The future, as always, has to be written, including what about innovation technology that Enel Energia makes available to customers. Once again we ask Marcello Landolfo who tells us what's in the pot: «Elena is our bet on customer care 4.0: an Artificial Intelligence at the service of our customers, a perfect combination of Virtual User Experience and Natural Language Processing. Our virtual assistant is constantly evolving, his functions will be more and more proactive, he will be able to perceive the client's mood, adapting tones and behaviors. The challenge is to build a relationship of trust between humans and technology every day, keeping the thin line that distinguishes human relationships from those with artificial intelligence. Thanks to the analysis of the data, the skills acquired and the investments made, we are able to obtain the necessary indicators to make Elena a real Intelligent Customer Care ". Elena is central in this scenario, also because, as Ruggiero also reiterates, «she has a delicate mission: to manage Enel Energia's greatest assets, customers». Although artificial intelligence is a cutting-edge field, the values ​​that guide Enel Energia are the same as always. In the words of Frattini, «Elena does not change our positioning, it make it stronger. A virtual assistant does not detract from the customer experience, on the contrary, it adds in terms of availability and speed. Using technology to be even closer to our customers is part of a path that began some time ago and Elena completes what is one of our key points, building a more open and lasting relationship with who choose us and continue to choose us year after year"