HR professionals’ time freed to deal with more complex and sensitive issues

Norwich Union, the UK's largest insurer and part of Aviva plc, has worked in conjunction with Transversal ( to develop a first in intelligent web self-service for HR. The online tool provides its employees with instant, accurate answers to HR enquiries around the clock. It has been embraced so well by employees that calls to HR Employee Services have dropped by over 16%, in just four months.

A key priority for Norwich Union’s HR department is to ‘Make it easier to work at Norwich Union’ and ‘make it easier to use HR self service’. The launch of ‘AskHR’ is the first of a suite of new e-HR self service applications and is integral to the success of the wider e-HR programme.

The AskHR tool itself is simple to use from an end user perspective. Employees type in a question or browse the most frequently asked questions in each category, and with the help of the natural language search engine, suitable answers are brought up instantly from the web-based knowledgebase. It ensures information is easily accessible and organically kept up-to-date by capturing answers to new staff questions asked via the intranet and email, retaining this information within its knowledgebase.

”AskHR has been really well received across Norwich Union, it’s great to see how readily web-based technology is being embraced,” said Catherine Tausney, Head of HR Advice Services, Norwich Union. “Since launching in June 14,500 users have accessed the service with over 41,500 hits to the site. With high satisfaction levels we are confident that user figures and hits to the site will remain on the increase. We are really excited about the next phase of our plans, with the service being rolled out to our RAC colleagues by the end of the year.”

Key to the success of the application has been the investment in dedicated resource. Scoping system requirements and writing and maintaining content has resulted in the development of quality, accurate content contained within a dynamic knowledgebase that grows on a daily basis. The capacity for organic content growth and redevelopment was an essential factor in the longevity of the tool, as was the need for an easy to use content management interface. This has enabled the initial 250 questions developed, to expand to over 900 in a matter of months. Most popular enquiries so far have been those relating to pay, sickness absence and benefits, terms and conditions.

The AskHR software makes it easy to access statistical data, provides HR with usage figures and an additional source of information regarding most frequent and popular questions.

“Providing a good and supportive HR service to staff is always important, and the AskHR tool is helping Norwich Union achieve this. The tool frees up the HR team’s time to concentrate on resolving more complex issues, which ultimately helps the company increase employee satisfaction. It is clear from the department’s e-HR agenda that applications such as AskHR will become an increasingly important resource for both the department and employees,” commented Davin Yap, CEO, Transversal.

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Dee Roche
Head of Marketing
+44 (0)1223 723 388

Chris Measures/Sam Grace
Rainier PR
+44 (0)20 7494 6570

About Transversal

Transversal is a Cambridge-based developer of multi-channel eService solutions for customer-facing websites and contact centres that achieve high-impact wins on improved service, reduced costs and increased sales. Transversal's flagship Web Self-service Sales EngineTM solution uses the online customer service interaction to deliver targeted offers and advertising based on what customers ask about - a customer service strategy proven to produce high response rates and sales, while simultaneously improving customer service quality and efficiency. MetafaqTM reduces the volume of call and email queries to contact centres by automatically answering customers' questions online. Transversal customers will typically see immediate and dramatic email reductions, by around 60%, and improvements in email response times, from days to minutes. Intrafaq, Transversal's knowledge management solution for contact centres, delivers information to agents in a unique way from a dynamic natural language knowledgebase. Simply by typing a question, in their own words, agents can access answers to customer questions; providing fast, accurate and consistent responses. Organisations benefit from increased first call resolution and efficiency by improving the knowledge and quality of service provided by customer service and help-desk agents. Transversal's Memory Engine™ is the result of research and development by top researchers in Information Theory and Machine Learning from Caltech and Cambridge universities. Transversal co-founder, Prof. David MacKay, is a world renowned expert in Artificial Intelligence. He pioneered Bayesian Neural Networks in the late 1980s and remains at the forefront of the field. Current customers include Sony PlayStation, Direct Line, Mint, Tesco Personal Finance, Privilege, Thomsons, The AA, Barclays, Holiday Extras, Nissan, Fujifilm, Standard Life, Scottish Power, Freemans, Grattans and Kaleidoscope.

About Norwich Union

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

Published on: 12:00AM on 10th October 2007