While the second wave of COVID-19 continues to overwhelm the nation’s economy and business ecosystem, the insurance industry remains no exception. The pandemic has forced insurers to deal with a multitude of challenges from capital risks, operational glitches and cost pressures, to tackling a surge in contact center traffic. As the sector outlines its recovery roadmap, the main focus falls on ensuring complete digital transformation across core processes to provide frictionless customer experiences.
With the internet population projected to reach 900 mn by 2025, customers now expect an omnichannel experience that is both personalised and consistent. This refined consumer preference has catalysed innovation across legacy set-ups, compelling the sector to pivot to stay at par with the industry upgrades of InsurTech as well as FinTech ventures.
Rise in Queries
As of February 2021, insurers have settled a total of $1.2 billion worth of COVID-19 claims. The numbers continue to grow, as more individuals opt for fresh policies or renew existing ones that promise financial security as well as health protection. This uptick in demand has resulted in a sudden surge in the number of inbound queries, burdening contact centres with large volumes of calls. The outbreak-imposed restrictions have compelled organisations to take a large chunk of their customer support operations remote. It has become extremely challenging to tackle this surge with the existing infrastructure, impacting severely the steady stream of outbound sales and revenue generation pipeline.
A New Voice for the Insurance Space
Voice AI can be a powerful customer interaction tool, from bringing in process efficiency and ease, to driving business ROI.
The need for automation could not be more emphasized by the ongoing crisis, as organisations from multiple sectors rapidly revamp operations to adopt digital-first frameworks. In fact, the insurance sector was one of the first few to pivot to conversational interfaces for automated support functions. Additionally, insurers have begun exploring and deploying voice capabilities to steer meaningful customer journeys, while saving both agent and caller time.
Voice AI has the ability to initiate outbound calls to registered and potential customers to collect relevant information, thereby simplifying the work for agents and saving time. It can also filter down leads with high-conversion probability, freeing up agents to focus more on value-driven, conversion-related aspects.
Verifications and document uploads
From automation of pre-issuance verification calls, collection of KYC documents, scheduling medical tests to vehicle inspection, bots can handle an array of tasks to ensure quick & easy enrollment.
Customers have access to support services 24x7, enjoying round-the-clock virtual consultations and assistance to help with crucial money matters. Voice AI fills up the gaps in limited resource bandwidth, while reducing customer wait times. It ensures all calls are attended to and resolved with equal efficiency, irrespective of the time and traffic.
Voice bots have continuous support from AI and machine learning, which updates on user details including caller history, demographics, age, gender and other social details. Intel from past interactions can oftentimes be useful in navigating present situations. A bot can be designed to work as an automated insurance agent which recommends the most suitable policies and options for a better lifestyle, in addition to notifying existing customers on renewals and lapsed plans. Other common queries around statements, claims, payments, among others are also automated to maximize efficiency.
Catalysing revenue growth
The insurance industry can benefit from Voice AI in innumerable ways. Starting from driving conversions, increasing customer service satisfaction scores to reducing operational expenses. Through a two-pronged approach of lead generation and retention, voice bots play a monumental role in boosting revenues, contributing to the overall business growth and success.
With industries catapulting to the next level of automation, consumers’ appetite for digital-first, personal experiences continue to grow. Hyper-personalisation in insurance, in spite of being in its infancy, helps enhance customer journeys, providing more holistic experiences. It helps factor in human aspects through emotion and sentiment-sensing parameters, where the bot is trained to understand one’s context, intent and mood, to ensure the call is seamlessly navigated and resolved with minimal interventions.
Tapping the local lingo for Inclusive Insurance
It is crucial to bridge the language divide in a country that speaks over 22 scheduled languages extending to 19,500 dialects. Keeping in mind that approximately 90 percent of the Indian population cannot read, write or converse in English, it will be pivotal for enterprises to tap the local lingo to make digital services more inclusive for the next billion e-consumers. Switching to multilingual voice solutions will be a game-changing move, helping insurers penetrate a wider demographic by encouraging new users.
Adapting to changing customer behaviour has been one of the biggest business challenges. Most of the customers will continue to leverage digital while speaking to insurance agents, even after the pandemic. Whether it’s AI-enabled bot or self-servicing insurance portal for policy-holders, services are being designed to enhance experiences, reduce time and improve overall satisfaction scores. In the next few quarters, voice automation will help the sector further scale its potential, fine-tuning the online insurance space to create inclusive services for a wider demographic and branch out to solving various customer pain points.
The author, Sourabh Gupta, is CEO and Co-founder at Vernacular.ai. The views expressed are personal