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Why the insurance industry needs conversational AI for customer service

Conversational AI for Insurance Industry

Information billowed, and numbers waltzed in front of him as his eyes plumbed the blue screen for answers.

‘I’m going skiing later this week. Can you please check if it is covered under my insurance policy?’, Mo had asked again.

The call had already clocked upwards of twenty minutes. Alex’s squint sharpened. He was skimming across the multiple tabs rather hurriedly now.

‘Sure, please give me a minute’, he feverishly typed, accompanied by a tall swig of water.

There was a long silence.

‘So is it covered?’

His face scrunched. The frown tightened over his brows.

‘Please wait, Ma’am, while I look for it. Can I put you on hold for five minutes?’, he muttered as he realized he was barrelling towards failure.

‘This is ludicrous!’, Mo hung up.

Insurance policies can be complex to understand as is. Moreover, customers today are not very unassuming, are they? Not only do they want insurers to make their journey simpler but also as slick as possible. Read a Scenic Eclipse cruise hemmed by Vesper Martinis and deep submarine dives. Okay, excuse the hyperbole, but they really do not want a service agent hacking up their day with hour-long waiting periods. A 24/7 seamless support at their convenience and personalized service tailored to the last detail — in the language they speak? Yes, that’ll do.

Running for cover

For insurers with a comprehensive portfolio, differences in various products and services can be challenging to explain to the inexperienced customer. Often, agents flounder, unable to identify the option that can be best-suited for a customer, from among an extensive and complex array of policies. Sometimes they don’t know quite how to respond to a chat or call in case they are unable to fetch the correct information concerning an inquiry in real-time. Many agents end up tiring the customer with answers they didn’t ask for, otherwise called false positives.

The average customer wait period just to get through to an agent on a chat is 2 minutes and 40 seconds, says one report. Employees with subpar training or insufficient knowledge-base only compound the time and the problem. Customers can have to trudge multiple chat cycles or unserviceable hours for merely getting a claim processed. Such snail-paced interactions culminate in severely harming brand loyalty. Most contact centres often get overloaded owing to high customer demand or a request pile-up due to system downtime. In such cases, the insurers incur substantial financial and reputational costs while they falter at scaling up staff at short notice. Naturally, affairs get underpinned by declining CSAT scores.

Conversational AI for customer service can help boost cost efficiency and customer satisfaction

Conversational AI for customer service can help boost cost efficiency and customer satisfaction

Conversational AI can help develop a serious knowledge infrastructure for customer service teams in want of right technological support. Being able to mine vast customer and product data, AI chatbots can internally serve as self-service portals in insurance companies and enable a convergence among entry-level, intermediate, and specialist support reps for learning. They can help model a CX pedagogy that is responsive and participatory and embraces the free flow of information among different teams from across various levels.

Additionally, the AI-powered chatbots can augment reps’ capabilities with sharply etched 360° portraits of the customers and critically engaged accounts of their histories. Agents can see each customer’s journey in review, with its distinctive transactions, and inquiry and activity rhythms, and craft superior, discursive, and individualized experiences.

By deploying such collaborative chatbots to act as a ‘primary responder’ for all inflowing request traffic, insurers can more easily manage the customer experience. The digital chatbots can take care of oft-repeated, run-of-the-mill requests that would otherwise stymie innovative and meaningful support activities. Other more nuanced and sui generis inquiries are triaged directly to the right human agent — with the complete chat log intact.

This implementation of conversational AI (across chat and voice) has already proven success amongst many global insurance majors. For instance, SWICA, one of the leading health and accident insurers in Switzerland with around 1.5 million insured persons and 27,000 corporate clients, had wanted to make their product information and the Swiss health insurance system more accessible for its clients.

They met their solution in ‘IQ’, a German-speaking chatbot, powered by AI and advanced Natural Language Processing. The 24/7 available bot has been handling around 75% of all their chat inquiries without the need for any agent support. It answers users with detailed information about their insurance policies, coverage, and more with over 85% accuracy. It routes requests and sends responses with more than 90% improved speeds and has already led to a 25% jump in cost-effectiveness for the company.

The insurance industry worldwide is transcending its traditional conservatism and welcoming the newfound infusion of AI- for use cases as diverse as customer education and awareness to claims and payment processing to lead generation and conversion.

The benefits are only beginning to transpire.

Are you taking note?