In the Sixties, there was a quirky show called “Lost in Space,” where one of the main characters was a robot. The robot was the surrogate guardian of one of the young space family members, Will. When the robot sensed a threat, it would mechanically say: “Danger, Will Robinson!” The robot looked like a refrigerator with dryer vent arms, but it could sound that alarm.
The TV robot’s ability to respond to situations and suggest options is not too dissimilar from intelligent chatbots. Although today, the robots are virtual and have a human-like appearance and voice.
Insurers are under increasing pressure to cut costs and offer better digital services to their customers. While core systems replacement and modernization activities close the gap to a degree, insurers are looking to a range of automation technologies to improve service, reduce costs, and increase profits. Virtual agents are an adoptable form of cutting-edge technology that is getting a lot of attention from insurers for its ability to improve efficiency and generate operational excellence.
In my new report, “The Virtual Agent, Natural Language Processing in Insurance,” I define types of chatbots, provide use cases, and define best practices for getting started with natural language processing. Advances in artificial intelligence mean that chatbots can automate more interactions than were previously possible with older technology. Now, enterprises can use artificially intelligent chatbots as virtual agents or assistants to replicate the effectiveness of their best customer service representative (CSR) to reduce customer frustration and wait times.
Insurance is a natural fit for the capabilities of Natural Language Processing (NLP) because of the large, complex data sets with nuanced relationships, years of historical data, and a new business acquisition process in need of modernization. For insurers, chatbots need to be smart to be effective. Virtual agents or intelligent chatbots are able to integrate with enterprise systems, leverage big data, and use artificial intelligence to help customers resolve issues or conduct transactions. Intelligent chatbots help insurers gain efficiency by:
- Minimizing menial or repetitive work by taking over the interactions.
- Mining the customer and agent interactions for intent and suggesting solutions.
- Reducing average handle time by suggesting solutions responses to the customer service representative on the phone.
- Maintaining the context of previous interactions avoiding the CSR from having to start over on the call.
The use of artificial intelligence and specifically virtual agents can provide scalability, predictability, and profitability. I predict in the next three to five years, most first line customer service will be handled by virtual agents. Virtual agents are scalable, unfailingly polite, never get sick, and don’t take a vacation. The biggest benefit, however, is they allow insurers to reallocate human workers to more value-added tasks.
If insurers don’t jump onboard the chatbot rocket, they may not be ‘lost in space,’ but they will end up as out–of-date as the clunky robot with dryer vent arms.
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