“Hello – pleased to meet you. I’m Neela. How can I help you?”
Aareon’s new AI-based virtual assistant, known as Neela, is set to adopt an increasingly independent role in helping to communicate with tenants. Currently still in the pilot phase, we expect that Neela will gradually transform tenant support in future.
If you ask Neela about her skills, her focus is on helping tenants and saving them time. Tenants will be able to communicate with her around the clock, at first via chat and then via voice.
The more queries Neela deals with, the faster her underlying algorithm will learn, to the point where an increasing number of tasks can be dealt with in the field of tenant communication.
We think of Neela as being 25 years old and having completed her ‘AI studies’. Her exceptional thirst for knowledge means that she is learning more all the time. We thought it was really important to endow our virtual assistant with some character – the result is Neela.
Neela is equipped with AI, state-of-the-art chatbot functions and the latest digital technology. The implementation process is set to cover three stages, starting with the basic level, which will see her providing access to existing services and processes via a communication channel. She will then be able to respond to a significant proportion of incoming queries regarding payment processes automatically and arrange dates for repair work with tradespeople, for example.
The second stage will see Neela offering guidance, training and support to users in her role as a ‘smart virtual assistant’, until she finally ‘graduates’ as an intelligent personal assistant, becoming the central point of contact for tenants housing providers and their contractors.
Our main objective with Neela is to provide housing providers and their tenants with an additional automated service channel that is accessible around the clock and supplements digital channels such as apps and online portals. Customers will be able to communicate with her via text, social media and even smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.
Neela said, “You know a lot of those simple day-to-day questions from customers? They are queries I can handle for you no problem, leave it up to me! I will ensure your customers get a quick response and won’t leave them hanging. Why not let me take some of the weight off your shoulders so your team can concentrate on more complicated cases?”
We developed Neela via a process of international collaboration starting in early 2019. Swedish housing provider Stena Fastigheter was involved as our pilot customer in May 2019.
Katarina Falk, director of ERP solutions, Aareon Nordics, said, “A particularly challenging aspect of development was selecting the use cases – these needed to be both technically possible from an implementation perspective while also providing sufficient added value for customers.
Pernilla Fröden from Stena Fastigheter said, “For us, Neela’s added value is not a just cost-related consideration. We want to use her to boost our brand by providing a better, wider-ranging service for tenants and offering an above-average customer experience.”
Aareon is not just investing strongly in virtual assistants, but also in a host of other new technologies; we spent €38m on research and development in 2019.
Imad Abdallah, a member of Aareon Group’s management board and in charge of digital solutions, said, “Neela is yet another result of our future-oriented activities in research and development. We are investing extensively with a view to using new technologies for our solutions, thereby creating added value for Aareon’s customers.”
Tina Kennedy is the head of digital at Aareon UK. For further information about Neela, please visit neela.aareon.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org