Casual discussions over drinks or after meetings turn more and more to fears that artificial intelligence is destined to put us all out of work. It may not be time to queue up for government cheese just yet. As with other game-changing technologies, the need for the creativity and the human touch is evergreen.

For a long time, the insurance industry has supported a few well-integrated ecosystems. Within these arrangements, each species of animal has its role to play to make all the inter-dependencies work reliably most of the time. Each year we have adopted new tools and new strategies, replacing or improving our old ways of doing things. From automatic call routing, e-billing, email and online billing and claims submission, to phone apps that help insurers self-serve, automation and digitization has been driving the systems to evolve. All of these new pressures have worried every part of the chain– “How is this going to affect my role in this complex industry? After periods of adjustment, most changes have improved service, efficiency and profitability.

Most recently the change triggers have included the implementation of artificial intelligence enhanced tools. A good share of large US carriers have already embraced AI’s machine learning technology. Big banks have jumped in with both feet to launch customer facing AI tools, virtual agents that make their self-service tools come alive with conversational interfaces. Capital One launched their Eno chatbot that helps clients manage their money. This helpful AI software learns each customer’s behavior over time and personalizes how it “talks” with the customers. Retail banking has been transitioning to self-service and low touch, high profit service since the advent of the internet. Industries such as insurance benefit from the trusted relationship between the insurers and agents.

Artificial intelligence visionary and futurist Ray Kurzweil posits that human and machine learning will multiply our civilization’s effective intelligence a billion-fold by 2045. Time will tell whether this comes about, but the application of AI in tandem with human expertise and ingenuity has shown to be better than either humans or machines alone in contexts such as cancer detection.

The power of AI’s machine learning applied to the copious amounts of data used in the insurance field has fueled the rapid integration of AI into the back office. The ability to test hypothesis, run experiments on hundreds or thousands of scenarios, all to derive reliable insights on product performance and development, detect and deter fraud and to help create new product lines makes AI irresistible.

Now insurance carriers and agencies are venturing out into customer facing virtual agents as well. While the first chatbots tried to be another layer between a call center agent, they ended up not being as effective as predicted. The problem? They lacked depth in understanding. The were ill-prepared for the tasks and language that customers would throw at them. Thankfully the newer, more advanced customer AI virtual agents take a narrow and deep approach. These natural language specialist programs can understand millions of live conversational phrases, listening and acting on how we actually converse. Better yet, they also have depth with respect to taking on single tasks, but do them well. Providing proof of insurance taking 5 minutes of hold time and 3 minutes to talk to an agent? A chatbot can take care of it in 30 seconds with zero hold time. Eliminate these routine tasks from the call queue and suddenly, hold times go down, and customer satisfaction and loyalty rise from the value of the human touch from customer service agents focusing on the insureds who really need a person to handle their query.

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

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