Historically, the insurance industry has been quite far behind in the technology curve, at least in comparison to most other sectors. However, they are beginning to recognize the importance of delivering a flexible, convenient and digitally mature experience that can meet the diverse needs of policyholders.
Since businesses in this space have an abundance of data, turning to the kind of technology that can utilize this is a logical move. Chatbots clearly offer a quick and easy way for these companies to begin delivering the services demanded by 21st century customers.
While there are many obvious benefits to such an approach, virtual assistants also offer benefits that are very specific to the insurance industry, and which hold the promise of enabling those businesses that get a head start in this arena to truly differentiate themselves.
Bearing in mind that chatbots bring a unique ability to personalize and automate processes, this is a technology that can genuinely enhance the relationship between the business and its customers, the policyholders.
Since the continuing development of machine learning and complex algorithms means that virtual assistants are becoming increasingly capable of performing complex tasks and meeting the diverse expectations of consumers, let’s take a look at some of the key functions within the insurance industry where chatbots could come into their own.
Researching Customer Service Policies
This is a sector, of course, that can be quite complex in respect of the various types of policies available to customers, and for the first-timer, working your way through the many and varied options is likely to be a daunting task.
Buyers inevitably have a particular budget they are working to, as well as a specific set of requirements that need to be met. Add to this the often impenetrable language used by insurers and even consumers who usually prefer to do things for themselves may be put off.
Chatbots, thanks to their intuitive interfaces, are perfect for providing educational support to potential buyers. Because they are able to process data at astonishing speeds, chatbots can quickly scan through vast amounts of information to ensure that policy offerings are accurate and tailored to the needs of the specific individual, and they can do it more quickly and accurately than a human agent ever could.
It is particularly important to get the correct information to the customer up front, as nothing ruins a budding relationship faster than unexpected surprises further down the line. By providing customers with the necessary information about the best policy for them, chatbots are able to ensure that the insurance organization makes a great first impression, something that will also help to seal the sale.
Making the purchase
Once the virtual assistant has helped the client to decide which policy is best for them, it can also help them to overcome a process that often proves to be quite unwieldy, due to the technical industry jargon and the often vast quantities of paperwork.
Chatbots can be designed to ensure a much smoother process for the purchaser, assisting them in navigating the complicated buying process. Moreover, it can make life much easier for the buyer, assisting them by auto-filling difficult questions using natural language capabilities and drawing on the help of third-party sources.
At the same time, using chatbots in this way improves internal efficiencies, by freeing up human agents to handle the more complex requirements, as they are now no longer bogged down with reams and reams of paperwork.
Perhaps the greatest benefit that virtual assistants can offer to an insurance company is the ability to operate 24/7. After all, the situations that lead to customers needing to make a claim certainly don’t only occur during office hours.
The fact that chatbots operate non-stop means that regardless of the time of an incident, the customer involved can get the help they need, immediately and without fuss. Regardless of whether the client simply wants instant information about an aspect of their policy, or needs to understand the steps to undertake in order to claim for a house robbery or vehicle accident, the chatbot can help.
Unsurprisingly, a large number of the calls received from customers are related in some way to the claims process. The automated nature of the virtual assistant lends itself to the multiple steps generally involved in such a process, and enables it to streamline the experience, making it more pleasant for both the client and the business. Moreover, because they have access to vast amounts of information in the company databases, it is a simple matter for chatbots to provide customers with immediate status updates in relation to their claim, in much the same way as people can currently track the status of a package being delivered by a courier company.
Time to transform
As we have outlined on previous blogs, the insurance industry remains far behind in its quest for digital transformation, but that this desperately needs to change if it aims to follow the lead of other industries and shift from being policy-centric to customer-centric.
Such digital transformation is only made more critical by the knowledge that younger generations - ones that are not only comfortable with digital, but actually expect it to form part of the service offering - gain greater purchasing power.
The real challenge is that currently, very few insurance organizations are able to support a seamless user experience. However, as younger, more digitally-savvy customers become increasingly important, the industry is going to have to lose its ‘staid and stuffy’ reputation and make a concerted effort to stay relevant to this new generation. Having chatbots in their digital armory is definitely a step in the right direction.