The reaction of Insurers when posed with the question “Where do you think Conversational Technology is headed?” is: “We are observing this area”, “Definitely going to have a role to play in the future” , “We will start with something basic so that we are ready when the industry gears up for this” and so on. So are BOTs the future of the Insurance Industry?
Let’s start with answers to a few basic questions. What is Conversational technology? If it is so attractive, why is it not picking up in terms of industry adoption?
All of us are familiar with terms like Chatbot, Voicebot and so on. Now, let us understand what goes behind this technology.
Natural Language understanding – These are algorithms which can understand human conversations by interpreting language. This involves understanding the subject of the conversation, the question asked related to the subject being discussed, key words used in the conversation, sentiments expressed in the course of the conversation and so on.
Conversational understanding – The logic of conversations. In other words, what defines the construct of the conversation. This can be defined as Use Cases that define conversations in a given domain. This is different from a traditional Use Case because it involves a conversation. In conversations, the context can change very quickly and responses cannot be restricted to menu options. Also, natural language interpretations of user questions need not always be accurate. In other words, the user question can be ambiguous.
Channels – This refers to the mechanism through which a user communicates with a BOT. For example, Skype, Facebook messenger, Web chat, Digital assistants like Alexa and so on.
Personalized interactions – Imagine logging into a website and having a digital assistant provide the necessary information.
Humanization of engagement – Digitization has reduced engagement in terms of number of Interactions. Conversational BOT is possibly a step towards bringing in the human element in digitization.
24 x 7 availability – How often have we sought assistance during after office hours or holidays, only to discover that the contact center is not operational?
Convenience – Just think of the number of messenger apps we use in our daily communication. For example Skype, WhatsApp, FB messenger and so on. How convenient would it be if some of our queries could be answered from these very Apps just by accessing the BOT from the contact list?
Proactive assistance – Chat operations are becoming common because we want to be assisted when we are doing something on a website or portal. However, this has limitations in terms of operational hours, holidays and so on. Also, not every Insurer undertakes chat operations. How about assistance from a BOT when Chat operations are not available for enhanced Digital customer experience?
Scale – Scale has two dimensions to it in the Insurance industry. Traditional scaling in operations, as well as seasonal and daily fluctuations in operational load. Imagine month-end operations or peaks in queries just after a successful campaign. So, apart from scaling in the traditional sense, there is also a need to address loads that peak due to one reason or the other.
Some of the possible reasons for slow adoption are:
We strongly feel, conversational digital technology will be an integral part of the Service industry soon since it involves need for human interactions. The Insurance industry is no different. Going forward, BoTs will play a significant role in humanizing digital interactions. The “real” application is moving quickly from FAQs to Enquiries and transactions. For those still wary of using this technology in connection with customers, the starting point could be using BOTs for engaging with employees and gradually moving on to using BOTs for interacting with customers. However, we expect BOTs to become an integral channel of the Insurance industry by next year in terms of digital commerce and customer servicing including co-existing in an Omni channel environment.
One small caveat to the above though. Do not expect BOTs to replace human servicing. Instead, think of complimenting servicing with BOTs. BOTs are here to make self-service more personal and human and hence comparisons can be made only in relation to existing digital channels.