Opinion: Talking Chatbots and AI with Natalie Keightley from Avaya

We like to get opinion and insight from those in the industry who are actively helping companies transform their insurance offering. Customer service is an important part of any business and the way people interact with brokers and insurers is changing. One area is the rise of chatbots – will they replace the call centre handler?

Natalie Keightley from Avaya offers some thoughts here;

AI (often interacting with customers via chatbots) and other channels such as social are instrumental in helping transform the customer experience across financial services. Chat bots can help customers solve problems really quickly and effectively without having to move between other channels and devices.

Similarly, IoT technologies may actually resolve a problem before a customer even becomes aware they have one. Or, at the very least, it minimises the customer effort in raising and resolving the problem.  Not only that, but many of these technologies can also have a positive impact on improving resource utilisation within the organisation. For example, minimising the number of interactions that need human involvement or ensuring that human based intervention is targeted on the transactions that most need it.

However, it’s important to note that it is now customers who control how, when and where they contact insurers, not the other way around. Insurers can try to influence the channels they use (perhaps by making one easier to use, more accessible, etc.) but ultimately customers will choose for themselves and that may vary by demographic, region, time of day, device to hand or type of query. Insurers need to be able to support all and any! And that includes not only the new channels like chatbots with AI but also traditional channels like voice.

Most importantly, they need to make sure that the experience is consistent and seamless across any and all channels the customer uses, and that customers don’t have to do things like repeat themselves or any of the transaction already completed in another channel. A survey Avaya conducted in 2016 showed that 69% of insurance customers have to contact their provider more than twice when making a complaint, so clearly there is still work to be done.

Customers generally like to serve themselves and are often very happy to use visual self-service on a mobile phone or web chat with a chatbot online. However, one thing is certain; if they need help or want to talk to someone, that has be available, accessible and easy to do. And it needs to be seamless, so that they don’t have to repeat processes they’ve already completed in the transaction.

Some transactions are best dealt with by humans from the onset. For example, an incredibly complex insurance claim may just be frustrating to try and complete through self-service or via a digital channel. Those human interactions could be supported by agents in a contact centre, staff in a branch, or knowledge workers in the back office. It doesn’t matter which, just that the right people can be brought in at the right time.


Insurers need to think about their contact centres differently. The role of a contact centre is not simply to house rows of agents in an office, as many often think. It is a virtual branch and a face of your organisation. Your contact centre could be the only people your customers ever engage with. It should be considered an integral part of the customer journey, including both customer acquisition, sales and renewals as well as service.  It is very much about the customer experience and relationship and less about transaction processing. It is a door into the whole organisation, providing a central point of orchestration into all parts of the business.

Insurance firms, and many other organisations in fact, should be making the best of both traditional and modern capabilities in their contact centre.  It’s more about complementing the different channels to make the customer experience easy, proactive, personalised and, very importantly, based on their choice and within their control.

About alastair walker 12121 Articles
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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