In this article, Dr. Gege Gatt CEO at EBO.ai argues that virtual assistants and Artificial Intelligence can free up humans to work smarter, not harder. Freeing up staff from resolving those mundane admin tasks can help your brand improve its performance, as your staff devote more time to sorting out complex problems and adding a truly personalised customer experience within your company. That has to be real progress.
Artificial intelligence (AI) used to be reserved for science fiction, but this revolutionary technology has made the transition from movies to reality over the last few years. From driverless cars and agriculture prediction to virtual assistants and behavioural insights, AI is increasingly transforming both our everyday lives and the ways in which businesses interact with their customers.
The majority of today’s consumers are technologically literate and now expect to have digitally slick processes in all areas of their lives, be it ordering their groceries or making a claim on their home insurance policy. The majority also want more choice over how they interact with service providers, including 24-hour availability, no matter where they are. Most importantly, when customers want answers, they want them quickly – with as many as 70% of customers now preferring instant messaging over voice when it comes to customer support.
AI is perfectly placed to play a significant role in helping businesses respond to the changing demands of their customers, and the insurance industry is no exception. Built to perform tasks such as learning, problem solving and interacting with customers, AI offers the insurance sector a wealth of opportunities, including enhanced decision making, improved service levels and a superior customer experience.
Let’s chat bots
AI comes in many shapes and forms, but undoubtedly one of the most exciting opportunities for insurers is AI enhanced chatbots that can act as virtual assistants.
A perfectly tailored insurance policy is essential for every customer, but the sheer volume of enquiries that insurers have to deal with makes delivering the best level of service in a timely manner difficult. However, by using virtual assistants, businesses can respond very quickly, paving the way for an easy and efficient customer journey, while helping employees better manage the demands on their time.
The technology underpinning virtual assistants has developed rapidly over the past decade; today’s solutions are smarter, more responsive and more authentic than ever before. They can even be customised to form an extension of a brand, conversing with customers in the same tone of voice as of the firm’s other communications.
What’s more, a virtual assistant is always friendly, helpful, efficient, and unflappable – even in the face of a growing workload or demanding customers. And, unlike their human counterparts, virtual assistants won’t come down with a cold or stomach bug; they can be a constant source of information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. In short, they are the perfect customer-facing employee.
The benefits of this type of technology can be felt across all areas of operations. Virtual assistants can already handle a great deal of customer queries, but at the rate the
technology is developing, it won’t be long before a customer will be able to research and purchase a complete policy without ever having to speak to a human being. And crucially, because businesses can personalise every customer interaction, the personal touch won’t disappear.
Incentives for businesses
There is a clear business benefit here, too. Clearly, not every interaction will run as smoothly as desired, so a human can always be on hand to pick up a conversation if needed. And because they’ll be receiving far fewer run of the mill enquiries, advisers will have much more time to deliver quality advice to consumers. This upskilling of employees allows a business to focus its resources on the activities that really matter most and deliver the most value.
After all, in today’s hyper-competitive market, it’s not just price that sets insurers apart from the crowd; providing exceptional customer service is also essential. The more information that firms feed them, the more efficient and effective virtual assistants will become due to their constant learning capabilities. Also, by managing queries through a virtual assistant, businesses are able to constantly monitor and analyse conversations, including how the customer was feeling at the end of the conversation.
In doing so, insurers will gain unparalleled insight into what customers want and need, enabling them to take the customer experience to the next level. Virtual assistants are even programmed to spot opportunities to upsell and cross-sell, helping companies to capitalise on potential new sales leads.
Given that every customer has a unique set of demands and needs, virtual assistants are an incredible tool to help insurers identify opportunities for customisation before a customer has even interacted with a member of staff. Also, by using the data collected through virtual assistants, firms can build clear customer profiles and provide their clients with fairer, more personalised quotes and product recommendations. At the same time, they can generate insights into which types of policies are the most popular, what conditions are most important to people, and where offerings need to be improved.
Today’s consumers have enormous power to both build and destroy a company’s reputation, with instant feedback published on social media. Every interaction is therefore incredibly important, and it’s imperative that insurance firms place improving the customer journey at the centre of their strategies. If they don’t, not only will their reputation suffer, but their business performance will decline too.
Bridge the skills gap
The benefits of AI extend beyond the customer relationship alone, however. Virtual assistants can help insurers of all sizes handle simple, routine tasks, leaving them with more time to focus on enhancing their employees’ ability to deal with more complex tasks and queries. Data from interactions can even be used to inform workflows across the business and manage different processes automatically.
Employees undoubtedly remain the insurance industry’s biggest and most valuable asset. We are not yet at the stage where virtual assistants can use intuition and emotion to think freely or come up with inspired ideas on their own.
However, by using AI to carry out basic tasks such as providing quotes, upgrading services, and answering questions on policies, insurers can deliver a great service to customers while continuing to invest in their employees’ professional development – all of which will ultimately lead to greater productivity, growth and profitability.
Ultimately, the insurance industry cannot afford to be lazy when it comes to AI adoption. Those who take the biggest leaps will likely see the biggest rewards, so getting ahead of the competition to embrace the opportunities AI offers is a chance that shouldn’t be missed.