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By now it’s well known that millennials represent our nation’s most uninsured generation. And this is not relegated to any one sector of insurance—it’s happening across all facets from health to life to renters’ insurance. As the largest generation of adults in the nation—roughly 73 million—insurance companies need to have a plan in place to address this trend if they want to thrive in this new era.
One primary reason for the expanding millennial insurance gap is the perception of inaccessibility. Millennials either don’t know how to apply, feel navigating the insurance options and exchanges is difficult, don’t feel informed enough, or see it as an inconvenience because the information they need is not available when and where they need it. Advancements in technology, namely artificial intelligence (AI) and chat, are empowering brands to deliver on the experience expectations the next generation of consumers have.
Buyer Characteristics Have Changed
Millennials are projected to account for approximately 75 percent of the global market by 2025. This has serious implications for any company—primarily because if it wants to survive, it must learn how to engage with and attract millennial business. The caveat? Millennial consumer habits are vastly different than that of their baby boomer counterparts.
Millennials value efficient, authentic consumer experiences. They want convenient solutions and care less about how those solutions are delivered, whether by a human or technology.
This is where a number of businesses are struggling to keep pace, and one reason why the insurance industry has lost traction among this demographic. A report released by the Transamerica Center for Health Studies, “Millennials: Digital Natives Disrupting Healthcare,” found the number of uninsured millennials is continuing to increase more so than any previous generation. As of 2018, 16 percent of millennials were uninsured while just 8 percent of baby boomers opted out of insurance. What’s more, a New York Life conducted a survey that found only 10 percent of millennials say they have enough life insurance in place to cover self-reported needs.
To turn this trend around, insurance companies will need to challenge the way they’ve traditionally engaged with consumers. This is where conversational AI can bridge the gap.
Technology Meets Millennials Where They Are
Advanced technology, like AI and chat, is helping brands meet millennials where they are and in real-time. However, not all AI is created equal.
Although similar to chatbots, conversational AI platforms are more capable of handling the complexities, like those associated with the insurance industry, and relates to millennials in a way that generic experiences simply can’t. True conversational AI is capable of performing multi-turn conversations and executing judgment-intensive tasks, just like humans. Here’s how AI empowers insurers to deliver a better customer experience:
Communicating on Millennial-Friendly Channels
Much of the millennial consumer’s life is already taking place online, and they’ve come to expect these seamless experiences across all areas of their lives. According to Salesforce research, 58 percent of customers say emerging technologies, such as AI-powered chatbots and voice assistance, have changed their expectations of companies and 54 percent say companies need to transform how they engage with them. Additionally, the same research stated that when given the choice between filling out a website form or getting answers from a chatbot, only 14 percent of customers would choose the form.
Why? Because today’s consumers expect real-time interactions on the channels they’re already communicating on, which is exactly what conversational-AI platforms deliver.
Being There When It’s Convenient for Customers
Emergencies are not planned for or scheduled—a concept the insurance industry is all too familiar with. When the unexpected happens, customers want to know they can access a solution. AI-powered tools provide insurers with another option to staffing human support. They can provide answers and process claims requests when human service is not an option or serve as a supplement to free the team up to handle only the highly complex situations. In SurveyMonkey and Drift’s report, “2019 State of Conversational Marketing,” it was found that the fact chatbots are always on makes them more preferable over other methods of brand communications, like email, live chat or social media.
Another advantage of conversational AI specifically, is it has the capability to handle a high volume of inquiries across multiple channels within a single moment. This eliminates the frustrating process of waiting in a phone cue for the next available associate, particularly during high-volume call times.
Enabling Human-Like Conversations
Although we live in a digital age, the value of human connection is not lost on today’s consumers. In fact, 38 percent of consumers still want to talk with a human when engaging with a brand. And conversational AI, as it builds brand- and industry-specific intelligence, can deliver. While it will never displace the human-to-human connection, AI has the capability to serve as a utility as well as a companion—and it’s only growing more advanced.
Over the years, conversational AI interfaces have evolved to be able to understand the complexities of human speech—slang, multi-string words, abbreviations, fragments, mispronunciations, and more. And because they incorporate machine learning, they adapt and become smarter as time goes on without human assistance. As a result, conversational AI is able to communicate with customers in a natural tone and convey emotion—to the point where it’s become indecipherable whether you’re communicating with a human or technology.
Offering a Variety of Use Cases
At its core, a conversational AI interface serves as a virtual assistant that can help with a number of use cases, including answering questions about products and plans, matching customers to the right solutions, filing and managing claims, purchasing a policy, and offering help desk support. Its dynamic and intuitive capabilities make it especially useful in the complex insurance industry—primarily for its ability to make buying insurance more relatable and ultimately taking the guesswork out of what millennials perceive to be an intimidating process.
Furthermore, conversational AI helps deliver on what Gallup has found to be the top drivers of millennial customer engagement:
• Keeping accounts and personal information secure
• Ease of making changes to coverage
• Finding answers to insurance questions
• Offering valuable services online
• Ease of managing accounts
• Ease of payment features
• Ease of access to policy information
• Ease of website navigation
Beyond the value it provides to millennial consumers, conversational AI also enables insurance companies to better understand and meet the evolving needs of this demographic. As the AI becomes more intelligent, so does the organization. It provides valuable insights into customer behavior that can inform decision making and the digital experience to better engage with generations to come.