Insurance is one of the largest service industries on the planet, catering to more than half of the world’s population. According to Insurance Information Institute, direct premiums worth US $4.5 trillion were underwritten in 2015 alone. One of the most important tasks organizations face is providing customer service, and insurers are no different. Servicing customers of varied regions under one roof has always been a difficult task. Additionally, setting up customer service teams to suit individuals from each geographical location has resulted in huge costs for insurers. As regulations become tighter and profit margins start dwindling, insurers are keen on setting up innovative environments with automated systems, which can bring down the cost of operations in the long run.
Cost is a huge factor for automated systems. However, the benefits – providing quality assistance to the customers, reducing down time for tedious activities, and allowing employees to concentrate on tasks that require expertise makes the investment worthwhile. Often, we have encountered several baffling customer service responses for the same query to the same employee or even inconsistent responses for the same query from different employees. This is an example of how customer services tend to be inconsistent in the absence of an automation system.
Insurers and Data
Insurers tend to sit on huge data sets ranging from customer information, products, market research data, and asset data to third party sources. This is because companies continue to generate voluminous data with every process, and all of it tends to be siloed within the premises.
The segregation and collection of data is set to become streamlined. Leveraging these data points will lead to expert decision-making due to the recent emphasis on the transformation of organization’s technological infrastructure, like:
- Modernization of legacy systems
- Use of advanced analytics packages
- Use of mobile apps to ease customer connectivity
- Linking social media content to understand customer sentiments
With these changes in place, insurers can start shifting their attention towards enhanced customer servicing that provides the right information to the right person at the right time.
Can insurers re-create Hollywood movie scenes into reality?
Hollywood movies have been pioneers in introducing futuristic technologies. For example, innovative gadgets in Bond movies, robots in I, Robot, artificial intelligence in Transcendence, the list is never ending. With movies churning out ideas which tend to become the reference points of innovation, insurers can consider re-creating some of them.
Imagine a situation where a customer is looking to change the beneficiary in a policy. In the existing scenario, the customer has to verify the change through a form – a time consuming activity. As a result of automation, the customer can open the artificial intelligence applications on the smart phone, enter the changes to be executed, and verify to ensure that it is instantly done.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Assistants
With advancement in AI assistant applications like Siri/Cortana, insurers can look into developing customer service software with integrated companions. These can be customized to suit the insurer, based on location, language, type of customer, and even the mood of the customer. These AI companions can be operated through a mobile app, while verifications can be carried out using a combination of OTP/pin, and facial recognition. This assists the customer to resolve queries, while information update is instant. One of the biggest advantages of these artificial intelligence applications is that they can talk unlike a normal web page as well as respond like an employee and in a consistent manner, leading to enhanced service levels.
To enable the AI companion to act like a human, the insurer has to ensure that it is able to retrieve data from all sources to which the customer is linked (including social media data). Moreover, the insurer needs to understand that machine learning is a continuous process to make the AI assistant more human like.
The list of services the AI companion can provide is substantial, but here are some examples that can make insurers look like magicians:
- Using facial recognition features that help in the authentication and prevention of fraud
- Combining voice and facial recognition to help understand the mood of the customer, so the companion can adjust its tone accordingly
- Understanding how a product/policy would work, and in turn the companion can provide feedback from other customers for certain new products to assist in decision making
- Paving the way for cross-selling of products and reminding the customers about renewal premiums
Although these companions are only at their incipient stages, they are growing at a tremendous pace. Insurers should embrace them at the earliest to ensure these become an integral part of the insurance eco-system. They can bundle these AI companions as part of their regular mobile apps and emerge as an ‘uber cool’ industry.