WONNE: Virtual agent (voice)

Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands Data and ICT solutions, Target groups of housing


We made a proof of concept (PoC) for a virtual agent (VA), called ‘Wonne’. This VA can fulfil the top 10 of repair requests from tenants, by speech. Wonne can display a video when a tenant is responsible for the repair or plan an appointment with a contractor when the housing association is responsible. This project is a collaboration of four Dutch housing associations.


In The Netherlands live more than 2 million people who have problems with reading, writing and using computers (illiterate). These people do work, but usually depend on affordable housing and rent a home from a housing association. They also need 24/7 service, but a web-portal is too difficult for them. That’s why we developed a voice driven virtual agent.

Issues tackled

– 24/7 service for people who are low literate /illiterate or visually impaired
– More efficient costumer care for frequently asked services

Actors involved

  • WoonForte housing association
  • Rochdale housing association
  • Woonstad Rotterdam housing association
  • Parteon housing association
  • Ortec Data Analytics

Actions carried out

  • Making a voice activated virtual agent
  • Most important actors were the customer care employees. They know how customers ask and say things. This is crucial for the conversational design.
  • Analyse recorded phone calls with algorithm (this failed)


The proof of concept (PoC) was very successful. The VA has a very high potential. It makes self service possible for a large group of people and makes It easy for them. Automation makes our process more efficient. We can invest that time on more complex problems which are increasing rapidly.

Why it works

Name of virtual agent (VA) should be recognisable for Google
The customer will need a rather new device (Google assistant doesn’t work on older devices)
It takes a lot of time to train the VA and to make good conversational designs
Correct dialogue, conversation does not feel natural yet
VA has difficulty understanding dialect and people with speech impairment



More information

Suzan Knipp, Woonforte,