Insurance Advisory: Delighting – and keeping – your customers with conversational experiences

Date Published

22/03/2021

Reading time

6 mins read

Author

Gabriel Swift

Leading the insurtech revolution with the latest AI-powered conversational technologies

The Coronavirus pandemic is posing organisational challenges to many financial services providers and their customer service efforts – there’s no doubt about that. But it’s also created a unique opportunity for them to use new technologies such as conversational commerce to prove their worth by providing really great customer experience (CX).

Over the past year, the ability to provide superior CX has become essential to them and the financial services sector’s recovery. This includes:

  • Giving customers the tools to access information such as policy documentation and pricing or to purchase a policy themselves
  • Marketing and promotions, for example news / updates, pre-approved offers or customer loyalty programmes
  • Live chat for troubleshooting and more complex enquiries
  • Chatbots for simple enquiries(1).


Conversational experiences offer various benefits for insurers, such as enhanced customer experience, easy scalability, optimised data collection and advanced customer service, and lessens the overall operational cost per transaction. According to Verified Market Research, the rise in the demand for customer service assistance in banks, hospitals and government bodies is contributing to the growth of the market(2).

The AI and cognitive technologies, such as machine learning, natural language processing, speech recognition and robotics, that drive these experiences have become key areas of focus for insurers and they’ve greatly accelerated their activity in this area over the last two years. They’ve developed an appetite for exploring them further with proofs of concept and possible use cases.

According to Verified Market Research,the worldwide Conversational AI market was worth $3.89bn in 2019 and is expected to reach $18.02bn by 2027, seeing a compound annual growth rate of 21.02% from 2020 to 2027. It’s important to note that this global figure doesn’t solely cover the financial services market. According to Conversational Commerce technology company LivePerson(3), there’s a $60bn opportunity today in Conversational Commerce technologies. The amount that organisations are spending on Conversational messaging alone demonstrates their willingness to invest in this kind of technology, and the pace of that investment is accelerating.

Why is Conversational messaging important to insurers?

From health and life to motor and home, Conversational messaging allows insurers to be there for their policyholders at all times, offering them quick access to services and expertise and increasing conversion rates with a significantly better customer journey.

Conversational messaging platforms can also help insurers to contact their customers more regularly and effectively, and they can be adapted to use the most popular messaging channels without hiring an army of customer service agents.

  • For car Insurance providers, this could mean streamlining the filing of accident claims, providing claim status updates and paying settlements more quickly.
  • For health insurance providers, it could mean making it easier to find local in-network health practitioners.
  • For life Insurance providers, it could mean quickly providing information on policy coverage, quotes and benefits and streamlining responses to frequently asked questions.


Furthermore, by providing analytics based on the historic types of enquiries, and taking anonymised customer ‘intent’ analysis, derived through conversational messaging and machine learning algorithms, insurance companies can learn and analyse which customer intents (conversations) are most popular, and provide insight into which conversations and processes are suitable for automation. This eliminates what was a human-based repetitive task, and allows the customer journey to be augmented with a combination of a chat bot and an automated process. Once implemented, audit logs can be automated, stored and easily accessed to demonstrate compliance.

At Capita, we’ve worked with a large insurance client to modernise its service experience(4). We’ve radically simplified its processes, and we’ve reduced the average processing time from 35 days to just three. Now that this work is well under way, we’re working with it to expand its use of messaging, to lower the cost per interaction, simplify capacity planning, reduce staff attrition and improve its Net Promoter Score. Our early experience with customers generally shows that their Transactional Net Promoter Scores (TNPS) are significantly higher for like-for-like customer demands fulfilled through messaging, and the average TNPS so far is in the high 70s.

Research by LivePerson shows that, for many consumers, shopping for insurance starts online. For insurers, the conversion journey starts with search, display ads, social or some other traffic source and then leads to their website with hopes that the prospect will fill out a form and convert to a sale. The problem is that fewer than 5% of visitors convert. They can drop out at any stage: the form might not allow for sufficient qualification or they may become unresponsive during the email process (30%-50% of leads from email are non-responsive). When there is a successful email interaction, an insurer might need to send six to eight emails to schedule a meeting with a prospective customer and be prepared for the customer to not show up to the meeting. All of this results in lost productivity time.

Conversational Commerce is proven to increase conversion rates by at least 20% and speed up the sales cycle by up to 30%, by cutting out unnecessary steps, streamlining meeting scheduling and reducing drop-off rates(5).

By driving traffic to your website through search, display ads, social and email, and then driving customer engagement via messaging channels, sales engagement can start as soon as the customer’s interest is piqued. A meeting can be instantly qualified and scheduled, resulting in stronger conversion rates, a shorter time from lead to meeting, and an increased meeting attendance rate.

for Today’s consumers demand more from their financial institutions. Insurers that can quickly and effectively deploy Conversational messaging gain a competitive edge. This is achieved through more streamlined conversations with customers on their preferred messaging channels and in real time. The customer service agent can also manage more than one conversation at the same time and achieve greater productivity.

Here are eight reasons why we at Capita think that conversational commerce is here to stay and isn’t just a passing fad:

1. Consumers expect great digital experiences

Technology may be constantly changing but what customers value most when they deal with insurers remains stable. They expect efficiency, convenience, expertise and friendly service. But, in today’s hyperconnected world, people are using more channels than ever to engage with organisations, and their expectations continue to rise due to their experiences with digital leaders like Amazon, Apple and Google. Today, there is a critical need for insurers to embrace messaging as the customer’s preferred channel, progress thoughtful implementations of conversational technologies and design an overall conversational commerce solution that manages movement between channels seamlessly for the customer.

Conversational technologies have the power to delight customers and drive business results. They’re helping insurers to decrease their servicing costs by automating a wide range of customers’ enquiries, increasing customer engagement by removing traditional barriers to service (such as operating hours) and improving efficiency by connecting customers to live service agents when the conversation requires it. They’re helping insurers to acquire new customers at a lower cost and to increase existing customers’ lifetime value by offering them the right products and services at the right time. And they’re also helping to increase customers’ brand loyalty with financial wellbeing advice and support.

The financial services sector’s adoption of Conversational technology is helping insurers to achieve their strategic goals as more make it an integral part of their digital transformation programmes.

2. Customers expect to have ongoing conversations with a brand.

The number of channels isn’t important, however communicating well is important. A crucial part of this is ensuring that the engagement is in one conversation and on one channel, not stopping and starting and switching between different channels.

Frequently, a customer’s webchat conversation, for example, becomes specific about their account and they have to go through the identification and verification process again – which wastes their time and makes for a frustrating experience.

3. Insurers need to create engaging, differentiated customer experiences

Insurers have a differentiation problem. To get ahead of the pack, they must create personalised experiences that surprise and delight their customers. It’s essential to make each customer feel like a valued person rather than just another account number.

Conversational messaging platforms can be used to fulfil requests, solve problems and predict needs – all in ways that are as natural as texting or talking to a friend. The bots and virtual assistants that have the most impact work across different chat, messaging or other natural language interfaces, making it possible to engage with customers anytime, anywhere, on the channel they most prefer.

4. Insurers need to decrease their customer servicing costs

According to a study by Kasisto ‘Conversational AI for the Financial Industry’(6), Conversational AI has a proven ability to reduce operational costs. With it, insurers can answer customers’ most common enquiries while simultaneously giving them a better experience.

Time is of the essence while implementing any new solution. So Insurers prefer pre-built AI-driven conversational messaging templates, which include pre-defined conversational flows to tackle a wide range of use cases relevant to the sector. These handy tools mean that insurance brands can implement a conversational messaging solution in a matter of days or weeks, rather than months.

Reducing operational costs is one of insurers’ key considerations when implementing an automated conversational messaging solution. The conversational messaging template would include flows to address common customer support queries such as checking policy status, modifying policy details, scheduling payments and filing a claim. These routine queries account for at least 80% of customer enquiries. The AI-driven conversational messaging platform can instantly and seamlessly resolve such queries from start to finish, significantly reducing support costs by eliminating the need to recruit, train and retain large numbers of customer service agents.

5. Insurers need to address common customer use cases for conversational messaging

Common use cases include:

  • Customer self-care for example checking an account balance, requesting mini statements, making bill payments, applying for products, opening or updating accounts, linking to or topping up prepaid cards, buying mobile data or airtime, or finding Covid-19 information
  • Marketing and promotions for example sending out news or updates from the insurer, promoting pre-approved offers or running customer loyalty programmes to the customer
  • Messaging for example troubleshooting or solving more complex enquiries, supported by:
    • Bots – for simple customer self-care enquiries or events that can be managed with rule-driven automation (for example running through a claims process questionnaire or to undertake post NPS surveys)
    • Virtual agents – AI can hold real customer conversations, independently reading, understanding and answering customer questions with no programming and minimal set-up time
    • Human agents – for conversations that require higher levels of empathy or when there is business value in a human touch. Humans, bots and virtual agents can work side by side, without requiring customers to repeat themselves.
  • Lead generation and qualification for example chatbots can engage with customers to generate leads and qualify them with relevant questions
  • Feedback collection customer service chatbots’ 24 / 7 availability and the tireless, consistent and precise nature of their customer support is an important and obvious advantage in insurance, particularly in making filling in long, boring feedback forms easier to complete and more engaging for customers.


6. Insurers need swift and seamless systems integrations

Large established insurers rely on an ecosystem of vendors, products and solutions for different business requirements and across touchpoints. So, it’s important that any customer engagement solution that they adopt is easily configurable with their existing systems.

A good conversational commerce solution can be easily integrated into any of an insurer’s existing systems – whether it’s a customer relationship management system or a Live Chat function. It can also be integrated with a wide range of digital channels and platforms, giving the insurer’s virtual assistant an omnichannel presence.

Insurance brands, just like any other, need access to data on consumer behaviour. AI Assistants serve as a rich source of this data. Real-time conversational analytics offer insurers an insight into the kinds of frequent (and less frequent) queries that their customers have about policies, payment plans, benefits and coverage, claims filing and processing, and so on.

This data is extremely valuable to the customer care or sales teams, as it helps them to identify trending keywords, most searched queries, popular policies, conversion roadblocks, and so on. This in turn enables them to optimise the customer’s journey through the sales funnel.

Having access to real-time analytics also allows insurers to assess their Conversational messaging solution’s performance and ensure that it’s adding value for the brand.

7. Customers expect to be able to talk to live agents

Contrary to popular belief, AI automation doesn’t completely take humans out of the equation. Complex customer queries and issues require intervention by human customer service agents. Indeed, customers’ increasing comfort with Conversational messaging is, to a significant extent, dependent on the assurance that a human being can still intervene – a PointSource study(7) has revealed that 49% of consumers would feel better about interacting with an AI Assistant if they have a clear option to escalate to a human agent.

Traditional Live Chat services are ready for modernisation, bringing automation technologies like AI and chatbots into the mix and moving from chat (which is session bound) to asynchronous messaging.

In this way, human agents can monitor customers’ conversations and seamlessly take over if necessary. The AI Assistant can resolve routine queries and tasks, while a dedicated team of customer service and sales agents can handle complex queries or scenarios that require the human touch.

Summary

As the UK keeps moving towards a cashless economy, and the insurance sector finds itself on the cusp of a digital revolution, innovation in this area is now at the core of its survival. This provides a massive opportunity for insurers to dramatically improve the customer experience, and achieve quicker time to resolution, reduce costs and improve customer NPS. By using internet-enabled platforms such as WhatsApp, chatbots, streaming and so on, they can tap into the platforms that are most commonly used and appreciated by their customers.

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Written by

Gabriel Swift

Gabriel Swift

Account Based Marketing, Capita

Gabriel specialises in Account Based Marketing, With over 25 years’ experience working in IT organisations, Gabriel is passionate about innovation, creative thinking and enabling and supporting Senior Sales stakeholders in achieving their goals.

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