Chatbots have picked up plenty of steam in recent years. Currently used by at least 67 percent of consumers worldwide, it’s predicted that 85 percent of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent by 2020, writes Ayat Shukairy, cofounder of conversion rate optimization consulting firm Invesp.
The overall reception has been quite positive. Founder and CMO of chatbot company Ubisend, Alex Debecker says 21 percent of consumers consider chatbots as being the easiest way to contact a business. Plus 35 percent of consumers want to see more companies implementing chatbots, adds Derek Top, analyst at Opus Research.
While chatbots have multiple applications, providing great customer service is the main reason they’re used. Here are eight ways independent agents can use chatbots to connect with insurance customers around the clock.
1. Provide 24/7 Customer Service
According to a 2018 study, 24-hour service was cited by 64 percent of consumers as being the number one benefit of chatbots, writes brand marketer Erik Devaney. That’s a huge advantage in the insurance industry where you may have customers who need to get in touch with you at odd hours of the day.
Rather than relying on human agents who are only available during certain times and take breaks, a chatbot is always on standby. Whether it’s 3 p.m. or 3 a.m., customers can get in touch with your company whenever they need.
On top of that, chatbots offer a level of consistency and reliability that humans simply cannot. “If they have been set up correctly, chatbots will always provide the correct answer,” notes Richard McGrath, founder of All Chat Solutions. “Any errors they make can be quickly identified and corrected to ensure the chatbot doesn’t repeat them in the future.”
Not only can you offer customer service all day every day, you take the potential for human error out of the equation.
2. Offer an Instant Response to Customer Inquiries
Modern consumers are far less patient than they were in the past. Nearly all at 90 percent say getting an immediate response within 10 minutes or less for a customer service question is important or very important, writes Jon Dick, HubSpot’s vice president of marketing. Any longer than that, and there’s likely to be friction, which can sour customer relationships and hurt your reputation.
But chatbots are ideal for appeasing even the most impatient consumers. They offer an instant response so your customers can quickly get the information they need and go about their day. Rather than waiting for a human agent, who may take several minutes or even hours to respond, a chatbot can respond immediately. Everything is done in real-time, which satisfies the on-demand response many customers crave.
And this can be a huge competitive advantage and put you far ahead of other insurance companies in your area who still handle customer inquiries the old fashioned way.
3. Quickly Resolve Complaints
Put yourself in a customer’s shoes for a second. Say there’s an issue paying a bill or filing a claim. Would you rather put in a customer support ticket and wait hours or potentially until the next day for a response, or have the issue swiftly resolved with a chatbot?
For most people, it’s the latter. In fact, being able to obtain instant responses and answers to simple questions are considered key benefits of chatbots for 55 percent of consumers, according to Devaney. AI-driven bots can be programmed to handle a wide variety of complaints and are quite good at it. Research has found that 80 percent of issues are resolved by chatbots without requiring human supervision, writes Laduram Vishnoi, CEO of communication platform company Acquire.
4. Offer Efficient Redirects
In addition to answering questions and handling complaints, chatbots can be used to redirect customers to relevant resources, says Natalie Petouhoff, Ph.D., vice president of customer service at Salesforce.
Say for instance, someone arrives on independent agent your website looking for information on how to file a claim. A chatbot would greet them in a chat window and ask how it can help. After the customer types a response, the bot would direct the user to a relevant section on your site that explains the claim filing process. Or if the inquiry requires human intervention, the chatbot would simply direct the customer to you or one of your employees.
That way customers don’t have to meticulously browse your site, sifting through content to find the information they need. Instead, a chatbot offers efficient redirects, saving them time. As for you and your staff, you can spend far less time responding to redundant requests and more time focusing on core operations.
5. Boost Customer Engagement
Customer engagement is defined as the emotional connection between a consumer and company, according to customer interaction platform Clarabridge. That connection is extremely important to make. The team points out that fully engaged customers tend to spend more, be more loyal and are more likely to mention your brand to others. Engaged customers represent 23 percent more revenue than non-engaged customers.
AI technology can improve customer engagement. “Chatbots can strike up a conversation with any customer about any issue at any time of day,” writes Daria Khmelnitskaya at chat software provider LiveChat. “They engage in friendly interactions with customers.” As a result, you’re likely to experience customers who interact more with you as a brand.
6. Reinforce Your Brand Identity
It’s crucial for companies today to have strong brand identities, says Mark Vaesen, managing director of brand design company Tomango. This is especially true for independent agents who face an immense amount of competition and have to compete with big name online insurance aggregators. Having a strong brand identity makes you instantly recognizable, creates a perception of quality, builds trust and helps maintain customer loyalty.
Using a chatbot can help you in this department. It’s another medium to shape your brand identity and reinforce what makes you unique. “Chatbots can also be programmed with different types of conversational styles, from precise and technical to friendly and helpful to snarky and humorous,” explains Paul Savage, vice president of partnerships at digital platform Coredna. “The various types of ‘personalities’ available with chatbots will keep customers coming back and re-engaging with the brand.”
By taking advantage of a bot’s flexibility in programming, you can build on the existing identity you’ve created and create more of an all-encompassing brand.
7. Create a Personalized Customer Experience
Personalization has become a key component in sales and marketing across many industries, and insurance is no exception. Omnichannel data provider V12 Data reports that 88 percent of insurance customers seek personalized offers, messages, pricing and recommendations.
Chatbots are one way to achieve that personalization by recommending targeted content for visitors during various stages of the sales funnel, writes inbound marketing professional Anirban Guha. For example, visitors just learning about insurance coverage may be presented with a blog post that explains the ins and outs of what a policy offers, while a repeat visitor who’s closer to purchasing may be presented with pricing information.
By tailoring the experience for each user, you can create a personalized insurance shopping experience and make it easier for customers to find exactly what they need with minimal effort.
8. Handle Basic Transactions
Another way insurance agents can leverage this technology is by having chatbots take care of simple transactions. For instance, Shukairy points out that 29 percent of customers have used chatbots to pay a bill — something that’s becoming increasingly common as this technology continues to advance. By installing chatbots with this capacity, you’re offering convenience to customers who want to pay for their coverage.
Chatbots also allow customers to check their account status. They can see if a prior payment has gone through and ascertain their current balance, says Aleksej Kulyk, director of products at international payment provider Maxpay. While Kulyk is talking specifically about financial institutions, the same benefits can apply to insurance customers. They can check any claims or pending approvals, find out what payments will be due soon, or ask about new coverage options.
Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience with Chatbots
AI technology has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. While chatbots serve a wide variety of purposes, one of their biggest benefits is improved customer service. In fact, 95 percent of consumers believe customer service will be the main beneficiary of chatbots, explains Ayush Jain, CEO of app development company Mindbowser.
Correctly implementing chatbots has the potential to revolutionize customer service in the insurance industry. Whether it’s providing quick answers to pressing questions, redirecting customers to appropriate resources or personalizing the customer experience, this technology can be a huge asset to your independent insurance agency.
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