The COVID-19 crisis has no doubt had a major impact on individuals and businesses across the world. The insurance industry is no exception, taking hits from every direction. From a decrease in clients to policy cancellations, the pandemic has wreaked havoc in the sector. However, the current situation has also revealed many opportunities. Taking advantage of these opportunities will allow insurance companies to better position themselves in the long term. Let’s take a closer look.

Challenging times

As nations went into lockdown to slow the spread of the virus, customer engagement quickly proved difficult. Insurance brokers are accustomed to dealing with new and existing clients in person. Now, they were forced to interact with clients remotely. This unfamiliar territory meant that insurance sales took a knock. 

Call centre agents also felt the brunt of the COVID crisis. Many agents had to operate from home due to business doors being shut. As a result, call response times slowed down, leaving many a frustrated customer. Service managers have struggled to regulate workflow with such a large number of staff operating remotely. Also, many insurance companies may have found the number of policy claims increasing, especially on the commercial front. This has increased the call centre load, putting extra strain on agents.

Intelligent solutions revealed

As companies examine ways to meet the challenges mentioned above, many have begun incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into their systems.

AI is proving especially useful when it comes to IVR deflection. What is IVR deflection, you ask? Simply put, IVR (Interactive Voice Response) deflection is an automated phone system technology that enables incoming callers to access information and conduct transactions through a voice response system. By incorporating artificial intelligence into the IVR system, callers will no longer encounter a limited set of pre-programmed responses. Instead, they can interact with a chatbot that recognises natural speech, has decision-making abilities and can respond appropriately to queries.

As far as financial service providers go, an IVR system for the call centre carries wonderful benefits, not only for the company concerned but also for the customer. Call centres can benefit from IVR software in several ways:

  • With conversational AI handling the initial point of contact and dealing with the most common queries and issues, call centre agents are freed up to handle more complex matters. This effectively reduces the strain on call centre staff.
  • With the IVR system handling the bulk of the queries, insurance companies may not need as many staff handling the phones. Staff members can therefore be deployed to other critical business areas. As a result, insurance companies can reduce costs while still operating efficiently.

The insurance customer stands to gain even more:

  • Companies who utilise conversational AI in their IVR system can effectively offer the majority of their services around the clock. Customers will not have to wait until the next morning to have their insurance query or claim dealt with. The doors of conversational commerce remain open 24/7.
  • Through an AI-driven IVR system, customers have quicker access to services.
  • Using IVR also opens the possibility for service providers to engage with customers through different channels. Say, for example, that a client wishes to continue the engagement through a messaging app. An intelligent AI chatbot could easily transfer the interaction from a phone call to a WhatsApp chat. This allows the customer to engage on a platform which he or she finds most comfortable.

The future is AI

AI in insurance is not simply here to stay; it promises to grow well into the future. While many FSPs may have turned to conversational commerce in an attempt to keep their business running during the pandemic, the reality is that the world is increasingly moving toward the digital space. Insurance companies would be wise to incorporate AI into their IVR systems and other business processes, to equip themselves to handle the ‘new normal’.

Written by Richard Marsden (Director of UK Market at FinChatBot)


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