Opinion: Chatbots Are The New Victorian Steam Engine of Customer Service

As digital technology evolves and changes, the fourth industrial revolution is going to make a great many of us redundant. But in some ways, that’s a good thing; tedious jobs like reciting the same script to consumers, or answering the same client questions with company approved answers can be done by AI now, and Chatbots are going to get smarter – and cheaper. Work that genuinely requires the versatile, subtle, human touch is going to be sifted from the chaff of call-centre Hellishness – well, at least that’s how we see it!

In this piece we look at how Chatbots are already enhancing customer service within the insurance industry for both customers and insurers, empowering consumers in the same way the steam engine transformed the Victorian economy; saving time, offering 24/7 service and speeding up myriad processes.

Cate Wright, Global Insurance Product Manager at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence

Chatbots and AI platforms are transforming the way insurers interact with customers – taking the fuss and frustration out of policy admin and the claims process. As an AI rooted computer programme that conducts a conversation through auditory or textual methods, such programmes are also designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave in conversation. Efficiency with a human touch. Chatbots are a brilliant customer service solution. On the other side of the coin, for insurers, you get happier customers, deeper insights and a wealth of valuable data to take advantage of.

Chatbot revolution? Now you’re talking

If you’ve yet to embrace Chatbots, you might be missing out on a range of big wins for your business. Outlined below, are the top three ways Chatbots are raising the bar for insurance customer service.

#1 Enhance customer experiences

In the last ten years, the insurance industry has shifted to a more customer centric model. This shift was led by customers themselves, who year on year, have increasingly high customer service expectations. Customers have gone from walking into a broker’s office and taking half a day from work to do so, to now purchasing their policy or submitting a claim online in minutes. If a customer is unable to complete their whole journey at the click of a button, they get frustrated. Within seconds, a customer can be lost and won to a competitor. Chatbots arm insurers with the ability to engage customers more effectively and efficiently than before. And do so in the way that the customer prefers. In fact, a survey by Salesforce found that 69% of consumers prefer Chatbots for quick communication with brands.

Chatbots ensure that the message conveyed to the customer is accurate and consistent. By recording every conversation and the ability to save the transcript of this means what the customer says is recorded accurately, without any misinterpretation. Chatbots additionally mirror the friendly experience you would receive in a store, so customers don’t feel like they’re losing the human touch – but with the added bonus that they can recognise customers every time and offer an existing record should they make another claim in the future.

In 2017, Lemonade famously reported that it was able to pay a claim in three seconds thanks to chatbot, “AI3”. The insurer often runs its customers through the entire quote process using a Chatbot and it provides far simpler and faster claims settlement in the same way. Co-op Insurance, an insurer in the UK market, has since followed suit and is using Chatbots for quick high-level quotes and customer management. Chatbots have the potential to drastically speed up the policy acquisition and claims processes for insurance customers. And the less time they have to spend dealing with insurance admin, the happier customers will be with their provider.

#2 Data accuracy and efficiency

Chatbots provide the ability to capture and aggregate data, both in terms of volume and variety, that was never previously available to insurers. They selectively write down what is immediately relevant – with additional data recorded but accessed infrequently when required. Maintaining service levels in a call centre environment is crucial, not just to support a positive customer experience but also to maintain operational efficiencies and service level agreements with third parties. Chatbots have the capability to handle unlimited amounts of calls at once making manging daily call volumes and disaster volumes such as extreme weather conditions, much easier.  A Chatbot will record and transcribe the entire conversation ensuring all information is processed systematically.

Chatbots with embedded machine learning can accurately capture and learn behaviour over time, providing insurers with the ability to understand more about their customer’s activity and identify trends. This newly yielded data and improved understanding of your customer base can prove to be vitally important for multiple purposes – including that of fraud detection. Insurance companies always face the challenge of identifying “good” and “bad” customers. Genuine vs. high risk claims are a minefield to navigate and any tool that can help this process is invaluable. For example, data aggregated through Chatbots from the application to the first notification of loss can be used within counter-fraud software to identify if there is suspicious activity taking place. Due to the vast number of interactions insurers have with customers this process is incredibly time consuming without the use of Chatbots.

#3 Efficient operation

As discussed, faster and more accurate processing makes for happier customers. But it’s clearly beneficial to insurance providers, too. Chatbots offer savings in the call centre environment by reducing hold times, call answer rates and eliminating opening hours. Chatbots can boost operational efficiency and streamline the process. An example of this can be highlighted by Zurich UK, which used Chatbot “Zara” to help customers with 60% of claims made outside of office hours. When the UK experienced nationwide snowfall and subsequent high levels of melt water, Zurich UK experienced higher call volumes than usual and “Zara” was on hand to facilitate convenient and immediate logging of first notification. By using the Chatbot, the information was gathered at any hour, seven days a week. It was then passed to a human claims handler who responded to the customer directly, resulting in claims being processed within three working hours – a huge improvement on the targeted 24 hours.

In essence, if a Chatbot can effectively process a simple claim (and the customer is identified by your fraud detection algorithms as low-risk), you could pay the claim faster. In the future, this opens up the possibility of a completely touchless process – reducing processing costs, increasing satisfaction for your genuine customers and reducing the risk of fraud.

Walking the talk, Chatbots are having a profound impact on the insurance industry – evolving beyond merely “another customer service channel”. They’re improving information gathering, simplifying customer interactions and offer the potential to further enhance fraud detection. Then, probably most important of all, bots are making customers happier.

 

About InsuranceEdgeEditor (2188 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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