Woman chats with a virtual agent on her smartphone.

Provocateurs seem to shout bleak warnings about society’s ruin at the hands of our future robot overlords. Even the likes of Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the private spacecraft company, is issuing dire warnings about it.

All of this may amount to useless hype and hand wringing. What many people don’t realize is that artificial intelligence assistants are already living and working out among us. These docile servants are helping us as customers and in our work lives every day. The concepts of machine learning and natural language processing may feel foreign, but if you have used Google Translate, the sophistication and accuracy is 100% a result from its artificial intelligence tools. And we all have heard about the iPhone Siri and Amazon Alexa assistants that will play us music or tell us the weather when asked. In the insurance industry, AI agents for insurance are taking hold, working directly with prospective and current customers or helping with back office tasks.

The AI virtual insurance software available today is ready to take on many tasks for agencies. Now is the time to plan for phased implementations.

Step-by-Step AI Roll-out

Insurance agencies can benefit most from machine learning and natural language AI tools when they take a stepped approach, making prudent investments in products that eliminate the need for their agents to perform routine tasks that demand time but don’t increase customer loyalty.

Insurers have used an online, self-help strategy to help keep their costs down, but these efforts have limited success. The cost of constant upkeep and the lifeless customer experience makes them serviceable but does not get policyholders excited about the company.

Instead, agencies and carriers can start with virtual insurance agents as an on-demand front line crew, as a  conversational question & answer assistant. These types of chatbot helpers can understand the very human language questions and responses that customers use, and not annoy customers with the technical insurance lingo that causes a disconnect with the customer. The best of these insurance agent software tools are able to integrate with the current agency customer service workflows. As a part of these familiar routines, when the prospect or policyholder needs live help, the conversation is able to transition seamlessly from the perspective of the customer, and the CSR or agent is able to review the conversation that occurred with the chatbot agent.

As a second strategy, the insurance agency should explore adding a virtual insurance agent that can provide live quotes to prospective customers. These types of chatbots take care of all of the back and forth; the exploring of the numerous options and taking information from the user in a painless manner. This replaces the mind numbing, endless number of fields on a website form. All of the information exchange can occur on a smartphone or by talking through a talking device like Amazon’s Alexa. Rather than replacing an agent, this helper does a lot of the time consuming discussion and exploration. Then when the customer is purchasing and would like to talk to the agent, the agent is ready to focus on building the lasting relationship with the customer. The virtual insurance agent becomes a partner to the live insurance agent, each maximizing the strengths of the other.

Planning is Key

The variety of AI tools is growing, so insurers should review their own goals, strengths and workflows. This in-depth examination will make clear where new AI tools will bring the most benefit.

Payment collection is an area ripe for AI automation. As a part of an agency’s service to their clients, they collect payments. This can be time consuming and less satisfying part of the relationship with the customer. With the advent of multiple new ways to pay, insurance payment chatbots can swiftly handle payments, offering customers a very lightweight experience for taking care of this chore. Apple Pay, PayPal, bank cards, electronic check? Any of these payment methods take less than a minute in a chat-like interaction.

Better still, the chatbots are able to remind insureds of upcoming payments by sending messages on SMS, chat apps like Facebook Messenger or any other communication channel the agency chooses. Policyholders can request to be reminded later and even request payment history information at any time.

Another favorite use for artificial intelligence tools is the handling of claims. Losses occur at any time, but it is imperative the insurer is there for the policyholders at one of the most stressful times in their lives. Natural language chatbot  agents shepherd nervous claimants through the process and won’t barrage stressed out clients with jargon and emailed forms. The virtual claims agent talks to the customer, asking for the right info and answering questions as they come up. Using the smartphone, the claim can get timely documentation and images of the loss, insurance info, driver’s license information and upload this to the current claims workflow.

As the claim is processed, the virtual AI claims agent is always ready to answer any questions and able to give status updated. Need information from the insured for the claim? The chatbot agent can remind the insured about the request and also answer questions about where to find the information and why it is being requested.

Adjusters and customer service teams can be freed up to add the human touch, to reassure the insured about any worries related to the claim and help insure the customer feels well served.

Everyone is on the Move

The move to serving insureds online was a big move. There is a lot of information online to help customers make purchase decisions, file claims and pay their insurance premiums. Where this online information can fall short is when consumers are using their smartphones to get assistance. The majority of internet usage is on mobile phones and this has thrown a monkey wrench in the online efforts of most agencies.

To bridge this gap, virtual insurance agents handily interact on mobile devices and the new internet voice-enabled devices. Agencies can make sure their information resources are served to their audience–policyholders and prospects–in a way that builds trust and doesn’t seem unusable or unprofessional.

Insurance virtual chatbots live on any platform, from websites, phone texts, messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, to voice devices that are becoming common. Each of these communication channels integrate within the chatbot, with the ability to carry on conversations from one channel to another and at a later time.

Explore Available Tools

Crucial to an insurance agency’s success is to be competitive and run efficiently. It is becoming apparent that artificial intelligence is a core part of all insurers’ strategy for a profitable future. The appropriate AI tools and the right technology partner are essential elements for that success.

To see how Elafris Virtual Insurance Agents can help your company, speak with us to schedule a free online demo.

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