I think most of us have experienced moments of computer rage, when technology just won’t do what we want it to do.
But we also accept that enormous progress has been made and technology makes our lives easier in so many ways, from mobile phones to robot vacuum cleaners.
Many of us feel the same about chatbots and virtual agents. They are fantastic when they can answer a question, saving us from having to wait in a queue to speak to someone. But other times, we can ask a simple question and it’s as though we’re speaking a different language – it’s impossible to get the system to understand what we want.
Conversational technology is getting smarter and more affordable all the time, and chatbots and virtual agents are getting better at offering a more human experience. These days it isn’t technology that limits its potential – it’s the people designing and implementing it.
If your insurance company is considering adopting conversational technology, the most important thing to remember is the human element.
Whether you’re supporting customers via a chatbot or a live telephone call with an agent, it’s essential that the language and experience the customer experiences is always the same quality. That’s especially important when call volumes are high, and customers have significant concerns about their insurance products.
Avoiding the loop of doom
Insurance companies took up to 200% more calls from customers during 2020, because of the increase in claims related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The impact was felt in every part of the sector, whether we look at travel, health, home, car or income protection policies. When furlough ends later in 2021, we can expect to see another boom in calls, as customers grapple with changes to their financial circumstances.
Insurance companies must be ready to give these customers fast, efficient services that avoid the dreaded ‘loop of doom’. When a customer is worried, the last thing they want is to waste time speaking to agents who don’t have the expertise or authority to help them. Similarly, if a customer calls to make a small change to a policy, they shouldn’t have to spend 30 minutes working their way through interactive menus and being passed from one agent to the next, endlessly repeating the same query.
The loop of doom is frustrating to customers and call centre agents alike. It leads to more calls but fewer calls actually being resolved, which can lead to burnout among call centre agents and a poor experience for customers.
There’s a cost to the business, too. If customers are contacting you and their problems aren’t resolved, they need to call again, and again, and again. The number of calls continues to increase but customers become increasingly dissatisfied, producing the double whammy of higher administration costs and lower customer loyalty.
Get ready for the surge
As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, insurance companies must be ready to address a surge in calls. Firstly, this means auditing calls and identifying where and when you expect surges to happen. And second, it means taking practical steps to reduce the number of unnecessary inbound calls from customers who could be served equally well using other channels, such as live chat or social messaging.
We know that millennial customers prefer to talk to brands on chat platforms, so it’s important to invest in true, multi-channel support to deliver the service that they prefer. For example, HSBC has deployed LivePerson conversational commerce globally, and the bank expects to deliver 50% of its customer support through messaging by 2050.
Whether you offer support through your website, a chat platform or a social media messaging service such as WhatsApp, the service will only be as good as the conversation. That’s why increasing numbers of organisations are investing in conversational commerce to support their live customer service agents.
Conversational commerce means using artificial intelligence (AI) to triage customers’ calls. When someone contacts their insurance company, the AI tool looks for contextual clues from the call or message to understand what they need.
This process happens so quickly that the customer doesn’t notice it, but their conversation will be directed along the most appropriate route. This might be to a live agent if they’re talking about a bereavement or are vulnerable in some other way. If their query is very simple and routine, such as requesting a statement or updating their communication preferences, it might be directed to a self-service application or chatbot. If they have another query, they might be taken through an automated series of questions and prompts to resolve it without the need for a live agent to be involved.
Blended is best
In many cases, the best solution isn’t one of these approaches, but a blend of all of them. For example, we might see that an older customer prefers not to use a chat platform or that a customer is frustrated, and the call should be escalated to a live agent.
Adopting conversational commerce delivers three important benefits to insurance companies:
- Reduced call volume and time means less stress for call centre agents, and better job satisfaction and loyalty
- Higher customer satisfaction and a higher Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Reduced cost to the business.
Capita has recently worked with a large insurance client to modernise its service experience. We’ve radically simplified its processes and reduced the average claim processing time from 35 days to just three. Now that this work is well underway, we’re working with it to expand its use of messaging, to lower cost per interaction, simplify capacity planning, reduce staff attrition and improve its NPS.
Our early experience shows that transactions completed over messaging deliver higher Transactional Net Promoter Scores (TNPS) than for identical transactions completed over other channels. So far, the average TNPS scores for these transactions are in the high 70s, creating a strong foundation for increasing automation and bringing Capita’s human to hybrid strategy to life.
To find out how we can help you to build better relationships with your customers through omnichannel, AI-powered conversations, get in touch