Consider a scenario where a potential customer is looking to get an insurance policy quote on a website at 1 a.m. He is confused about which plan is suitable for his family and just then a chatbot pops up on his screen and asks, “Hey, may I help you?”. It, subsequently, has a conversation with the prospect using natural language and helps him shortlist plans based on his inputs keeping the customer engaged all the way through to sale. This isn’t a future scenario but a present reality.
Over the past few years, several insurance companies in India have rolled out AI-enabled chatbots. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, ICICI Lombard General Insurance, Birla Sun Life Insurance, PNB MetLife India Insurance and HDFC Standard Life Insurance etc. are using bots for either customer support or sales. Most of these bots work on NLP (Natural Language Processing) and keep learning as they interact with more customers.
Going digital is all about reducing the gap between a company and the customer. This can be achieved to a great extent with the help of an AI-enabled chatbot. The bot can help to automate several repetitive and human intensive touch points in insurance industry to bring about operational efficiencies with relatively high level of accuracies.
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But why? Because plain content isn’t enough (irrespective of how informative it is!)
If the web page content is well-written to educate the consumers on your product/service offering, then you may think a chatbot isn’t really needed. However, just plain content doesn’t always convert into leads or sales. This is because people are used to seeing websites as a static medium, so any kind of engagement happening on the medium makes for excellent customer experience. For example, a drop-down list in navigational menu isn’t intuitive enough to make users browse through the various insurance plans available. Similarly, a contact form with several fields isn’t the most convenient option for users to get access to more information on the desired insurance plan/s. Thus, insurance players are now banking on conversational AI chatbots to attract, activate, and retain customers through their websites.
AI-enabled Insurance Chatbots: The new-age automation wizards
The insurance industry is often associated with legacy processes, hefty paperwork and complex affairs. Chatbots can solve these challenges by optimizing the digital customer journey and providing relevant information at each step. With many serviceable areas in insurance processes, they are poised to play an important role across the insurance value chain, including pre-purchase, purchase, customer service, and back-end operations. The AI-backed bots can help to fetch details such as insurance quote, check eligibility and process claims more swiftly and efficiently, which makes them the new-age automation wizards!
Key Benefits of Insurance Chatbots:
The benefits of chatbots are diverse and vary across departments and industries.
- Simplifies business workflows
- Improves efficiency
- Acts as a 24/7 live agent
- Enables faster go-to market
- Enhances customer experience
- Gives access to key data insights
Top 5 use cases of Insurance Chatbots:
- Lead generation
Chatbots engage with the visitors on the website and keep them hooked by asking them relevant questions and fetching required details from them. Once the visitors show interest, the chatbot can either assist them in the onboarding process or assign an agent to them for further decision making. The bots can recognize hot leads and push them down to the right sales personnel for further action.
- Onboarding assistance
Chatbots play an important role in educating customers about various policy options available. It answers introductory questions required for the consumer to understand each product and allows them to compare policies based on their profile and inputs. After helping them to select a product, they can further assist in enabling a hassle-free purchase.
- Claims and renewal management
The speed and convenience of claims processing has a direct correlation with the level of customer satisfaction as well as the reputation of the company. Making the claims via a chatbot provides quick responses as against the delays caused by the long waiting period of call-centers. The information provided by customers is stored in standardized document types making the process completely secure. They also assist in renewal processes similarly. It not only prompts customers for their upcoming payments but also simplifies the payment process across the customer’s preferred channel.
- Personalised customer support and feedback management
Based on AI and Machine learning, chatbots are capable of reading and memorizing user data from all its conversations and hence, personalization comes into play. They are able to notify the status of the claim, find the nearest healthcare point, and order towing services. They can also encourage customers to drop reviews about their feedback which provides key insights to the organization on areas of improvement.
- Cross-selling and up-selling
Chatbots can be integrated with learning models and recommendation engines that can logically guess which product the customer is more likely to buy. This is achieved by remembering the profile of the customer including the product bought earlier, which enables the chatbot to cross-sell or up-sell with a higher probability of conversion.
Does this mean that the insurance agents will become obsolete?
Certainly not. As mundane tasks such as data entry and premium calculation will be done through automation, it will enable insurance companies to concentrate on creating innovative marketing strategies, fresh products and thus, use their human agents for a bigger and more productive goals. The agents will get the opportunity to focus on core marketing and sales while smart bots will take care of the repeated tasks. This will help to boost efficiency of agents and the companies can generate more business. Simply put, the role of insurance agents will also change significantly, elevating to an advisory role rather than a mere intermediary.
Further, NLP has not matured enough to allow chatbots to comprehend multiple languages. Also, not all the customers will be comfortable interacting completely with a bot and thus one cannot entirely take away the human factor. So, the combination of chatbots and humans is a better approach for realizing a fulfilling customer experience. In a nutshell, it is not wise to automate all interactions. The trick is to intelligently figure out which ones you must. The bot needs to be intelligent enough to identify when it’s appropriate to bring in a human colleague and supply them with a chat transcript from where they can take over immediately.
The road ahead for chatbots
Chatbots will leverage technology advancements, from blockchain for verification or payments, to interacting with IoT sensors to attain greater situational awareness of customers’ coverage requirements.
e.g. Consider a scenario where a customer populates an online shopping cart with a new smartphone, just then he/she gets an alert from his insurer’s chatbot with a personalized quote for the coverage.
Consider another scenario where a customer is heading for an important meeting and has a minor accident with another car. As the customer’s car makes an unusual stop, he/she gets a call from the auto insurer’s chatbot. The bot learns about the accident and instructs the customer to take a few pictures of the damaged area. As soon as the customer returns to the driver’s seat, his/her digital assistant confirms that the claim is in process (or has been approved). The customer heads for the meeting without worrying about the claim.
Such technology advancements will help insurance companies to not only create an extra-ordinary customer experience but also to create new insurance product categories coupled with personalized pricing and real-time service delivery.
Conclusion: Conversational insurance is the future
Chatbots are providing innovation and added value to the insurance industry. As chatbot technology becomes even more sophisticated, its value to the insurance industry is likely to grow further. However, the chatbots should not be considered as yet another medium to push spam to the customers. The bots should offer a new way to develop conversational and interactive connections with customers. Conversational AI-enabled chatbots will enable insurers to gather more relevant information of their customers, making it easier for them to deliver personalized services and offer policies with exactly the level of coverage required. This will benefit customers, too, as getting the right policy will mean paying the right price, rather than paying higher amount on features which aren’t needed. Thus, conversational insurance is the future!