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Consumers invest a lot of time and energy researching insurance companies, shopping for policies and eventually initiating claims. Delivering a positive policyholder experience at each point in the customer journey can create a significant competitive advantage. Conversational virtual assistant solutions can help insurers meet policyholder expectations by creating greater price transparency, positive carrier ratings and reviews, personalized messaging, real-time response to requests and easy quote processes that consumers expect. By using virtual assistant solutions to improve policyholder experiences, insurance companies can avoid the dilemma of policyholders switching carriers, even if it means paying more. According to a study by PwC, 81 percent of insurers are very concerned about this and plan to implement customer experience initiatives over the next three years as part of their business model innovations. Conversational virtual assistant solutions are proven to increase policyholder satisfaction and need to be considered as part of this innovative process.
Getting the Basics Under Control
A fresh, innovative approach to customer service will require a new technical spine so that insurers can deliver a seamless experience. Most large insurers operate with legacy IT architecture that is ill-suited to sharing or presenting data the same way across all channels. Gartner estimates that more than two-thirds of global life and P&C insurers still rely on legacy systems (some dating to the 1970s or ’80s) to a significant degree to manage their core processes.
Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, Vice President and distinguished Gartner Analyst, has observed that while there are many technologies that P&C insurers can use to improve their processes, most provide only incremental improvements when used in conjunction with legacy IT infrastructures and do not promise to help P&C insurers “radically change their business models, reduce operational costs or generate revenue.”
Consider an example of a consumer who has started the application process on their smartphone. They may later move to their desktop, then decide to call an agent for help and finally complete the process on their smartphone. This process needs to be flexible—so that an applicant can pick up the application where they left off—and integrated with other systems in real-time. Service centers need quick and easy access to this data to help the consumer easily navigate the process. The likely scenario is that the shopper becomes frustrated and abandons the process, eventually ending up at a competitor to complete the sale. Since legacy systems function as a compilation of many smaller, siloed systems, they are not capable of capturing and disseminating the data necessary to create a seamless customer experience.
Building Better Policyholder Experiences
One method for improving the policyholder experience has been to integrate a Natural Language Processing (NLP) solution. NLP solutions can improve human to machine interactions by analyzing the spoken and written languages and comprehending the pattern. While NLP solutions can enable enterprises and their customers to complete various tasks more effectively and efficiently, the technology that most insurance companies have in place today may be harming rather than improving the policyholder experience because NLP solutions cannot analyze policyholder intent. Most customer facing solutions force policyholders to select from a series of options, which may or may not represent the reason for their call, frustrating callers who are unable to resolve their problems.
Enter conversational virtual assistant solutions. According to Grandview Research, this technology is successfully transforming policyholder interactions. As natural language interaction algorithms mature, the effectiveness will increase substantially by offering quick self-service options and enhanced user experiences, along with improvements in overall productivity.
From a policyholder’s point of view, conversational virtual assistants use simple, natural language technology to gather more accurate and timely information. Instead of getting held up in an endless series of menus and options, policyholders can simply contact their representative through their channel of choice and have a natural conversation to describe what they need. For the policyholder, the end result is the ability to accomplish a task or resolve an issue faster than they could using a conventional IVR. Insurers benefit by efficiently gathering more accurate and timely information from policyholders to support their needs. Additionally, policyholders can easily obtain information on their claim, find directions to the nearest facility or hours of operation, have questions answered and have the call routed to the correct department to resolve their issue. Conversational Virtual Assistants, and the insurance companies that use them, have an unprecedented opportunity to positively change consumer behavior and build better customer experiences.