(Image source: RightSure Insurance Group homepage.)
While insurer carriers were challenged by the sudden need to provide a work-from-home in response to the COVID-19 crisis, they generally managed the transition well because they already had the basic technology infrastructure in place. RightSure Insurance Group (Tucson, Ariz.) enjoyed a similar benefit by implementing automated service capabilities in the form of its insurBot chatbot.
RightSure, a full-service independent insurance agency providing insurance products to families and businesses in 42 states, saw the adoption of digital services as a natural progression for the industry and thus for the company, according to Jeffery Arnold, President, RightSure. That led to the company’s decision to adopt chatbot technology. The company sought to deploy a bot during 2019 in an effort to appeal to younger policyholders and to improve the online experience for policyholders of all ages—especially after hours.
“More and more people want to self-serve or conduct business outside of normal business hours,” comments Arnold. “People are beginning to want to read less and watch more or interact with bots more. To remain relevant and become a preferential place for customers, we need to serve them the way they prefer.”
RightSure originally worked with an outside vendor to develop the chatbot. The company later scrapped the first version—largely because of the magnitude of continuing investment it would require—and decided to bring the project in house. Given that RightSure had no in-house programmers, the company partnered with a software-as-a-service vendor and began scripting a client experience built around the desired outcome, according to Arnold. As part of the development effort, RightSure created an internal team of five, with representation from policy services, sales, operations, marketing and Arnold himself. “We debated often about consumer preferences and brought in a few off-the-street users to test the simplicity of the bot,” he recalls.
The finished product, dubbed “insurBot” went live on the RightSure.com website in June of 2019. The chat bot uses artificial intelligence to facilitate six functions around the clock: insurance quotes, payments, new insurance requests, auto ID cards and smart handoff to a human customer service agent.
Consumers Prefer Bot-Guided Self-Service
“When we designed the service options, we included ‘talk to my human friends’ as one of the prompts,” Arnold notes. “We thought that option might get a lot of use, but in fact, fewer than 10 percent of chatbot users select that option.”
Reception was positive, and within six months customers had completed over 1,000 transactions with insurBot’s assistance. With the arrival of COVID-19-related shelter-in-place restrictions in March 2020, insurBot use spiked to such an extent that it would sometimes handle as many as 100 requests in a single day.
“We were extremely happy with insureBot’s performance in the first few months, but we never could have anticipated just how crucial her help would be in 2020,” Arnold comments. “Our chatbot has made all the difference in our ability to deliver premier service during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Arnold describes the COVID-19-related adoption spike as “hockey stick” growth. He attributes a significant portion to customers getting accustomed to the application. “Once policyholders try it and experience how easy it is, they’re very likely to come back and engage with insureBot again,” he says.
“Our chatbot has exceeded our expectations,” Arnold adds. “I encourage all policyholders to test drive her services if they haven’t already done so. I think they will be surprised at insureBot’s abilities.”