The challenge for insurers is how to meet the increasing policyholder expectations without breaking the bank. At the ready are smart virtual agent tools solve this puzzle while also delivering service cost savings. But how do agencies move forward with these tools and integrate them into current day-to-day operations?

Artificial intelligence and the subfields of machine learning and natural language processing have been moving from academia and the research labs into the business world. This migration has sparked a recent flurry of development in new applications for the financial and insurance industries, adding new momentum to the digital transformation.

Apprehension about these new technologies may stem from fears about change and some short-sighted predictions that artificial intelligence platforms mean to remove the human element from the business in pursuit of cost savings. Like we often have seen with new technologies we’ve adopted, it can seem foreign and threatening. When the first smartphones arrived, few could have anticipated all of the ways it would change our personal and work lives. Virtual agents and smart automation give insurers the opportunity to innovate to solve concrete problems to make the experience of their customers and staff much better and to create new products and services that invigorate the business, taking it into new directions. 

To gain the most benefit, organizations must examine their own strategic goals, resources and priorities across the whole business before jumping piecemeal into smart automation. From this, teams can research tools that are best able to help accomplish these goals. Let’s explore examples of smart agent application, in sales and customer service, and see what benefits can be gained by insurers.

  • 24/7 Customer service virtual agents deployed on the company website or Facebook page are able to understand how customers ask their questions and answer general questions about insurance in plain language.
  • Billing and payments virtual insurance agents integrated into multiple communication channels–Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and phone text messaging–to remind policyholders of upcoming payment dates and amounts, answer questions about payments and enable customers with speedy, simple methods to take care of payments.
  • Machine learning analysis applied to customer interaction and purchase data to better segment target populations and identify new ones to go after, to create better prediction models for demand for products and to suggest new ones to offer that may be profitable.
  • Advanced analytics to create recommendations that are personalized for each insured, and suggested precisely when the insured may welcome the offer.
  • Friendly quoting chatbots inviting prospective customers via Facebook ads to talk with the virtual insurance agent about products available, obtain a quick quote and even complete the sale, fully automated and working to bring in new business 24/7.

One common misconception about these platforms is that they remove humans from the insurance process. On the contrary, most successful approaches have been where AI virtual insurance agents complement their human counterparts, maximizing the strengths of both. Insurance has always been about the human connection, a trusted adviser working with clients who need guidance on complex purchases.

A prime example of a live agent-smart virtual agent application is the automation of the sales and support of low-frequency or low-margin products. Insurance agencies often have product offerings that make little revenue and require more support than the price supports. To make sure customers don’t look elsewhere, insurers often sell several of these low performing lines. They typically don’t put many resources into promoting or selling them.

With the addition of virtual insurance agents, these can turn from lagging performers into money makers. Automated smart agents are able to answer questions in human-feeling conversations about these special lines, go over options, quote and requote, take payment and deliver required documents. When the insured wants to speak with a person about the coverage, the virtual insurance agent hands over the information and the conversation to the live agent to finish up. Better yet, when staff may not recall the specifics for these low-frequency purchases, the virtual agent can be there to confirm details to the live staff.

Pair these special lines virtual insurance producer with online ads that start talking to prospective buyers from the first click, and with little effort these forgotten products will be adding to the bottom line.

To see how Elafris Virtual Insurance Agents can help you connect with your customers, click here to schedule a free online demo.

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