Businessolver launches Sofia, an AI-enabled personal benefits assistant

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Allowing employees to find answers to questions about their benefits — and in the unique and personal way that they express their queries — is the aim of Sofia, an AI-enabled personal benefits assistant that Businessolver added to its Benefitsolver platform. The benefit software provider will roll out the tool to more than one million employees and dependents in the coming weeks.

Sofia is a machine-learning-based chatbot that analyzes employee and HR benefits questions to find “intent” and answers them.

For example, an employee that asks about their child, their daughter Caroline, or their kid’s FSA balance all have the same intent: "Does my dependent have an FSA balance?"

“People ask that question in different ways,” says Rae Shanahan, chief strategy officer at Businessolver. “Sofia continues to learn the number of intents.”

Unlike Alegeus’ Emma, which is a voice-enabled benefits assistant for the CDHP industry and answers programmed questions, Benefitsolver claims Sofia is able to learn as more data is presented.

Prior to launch, the Businessolver’s beta team in Seattle transcribed call center and live-chat questions, digitized them, and then analyzed the information to find patterns in the key things employees were asking about, says Shanahan. The system will continue to learn as two thirds of Businessolver’s client base, which is made up of employers that use its service center, begin asking questions.

Soon, the AI assistant will be able to take action on behalf of the employee or HR manager, says Shanahan. HR executives will be able to ask Sofia questions, such as “How many calls are predicted next week? And “How many employees are enrolled in this high-deductible health plan?”

See also: Siri, meet Emma — the voice-activated benefits expert

Although not yet voice-activated — the company plans on adding that update in the coming year — Sofia is available on desktop, mobile and the Businessolver MyChoice mobile app. It is also “device agnostic,” Shanahan says, and will work on various operating systems.

The AI assistant can answer questions in English, Spanish and French, and also has the capability of communicating in up to 120 languages, she says.

The platform can also document transcripts of conversations and save them to an employee’s record in Benefitsolver. That helps employers track issue resolution and collect data on the most common areas where employees require support, says the company. For questions Sofia initially can’t answer, members will be directed to Businessolver’s Service Center to speak with a benefit specialist.

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