I purchased my first insurance policy when agents and brokers were the primary gateways to coverage. An agent assessed my needs and factors such as age, lifestyle habits, and income, and, then, offered policy recommendations. This approach created a system of trust and transparency that forged long-term insurer/customer relationships.
Times have changed. And while I can still turn to an agent in-person or virtually, I can also go to a comparison website for policy recommendations, visit an insurer’s corporate website for specific information, or use a mobile app to purchase a policy and track details.
It’s now more common for customers to research and buy on the internet rather than in person for many important purchases in their lives. Our World Insurance Report 2020 survey found that 62% of millennials and 64% of Gen X and older generations transact online – everything from purchasing clothes to paying bills. And insurance policyholders are no exception as they frequently use digital tools in addition to traditional channels to research, compare, and buy insurance products online.
How customers prefer to research and purchase insurance, by segment (%), 2020
Easy-to-use websites and apps are needed to ensure hassle-free digital interactions so users can effortlessly complete tasks such as purchasing or updating policies, filing claims, or paying premiums. Straightforward, clearly written policy terms and comparisons of different plans can help customers make swift purchase decisions. Recently, I explored the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, Maya, from American InsurTech Lemonade. Maya was easy to navigate and offered instant quotes.
Purchasing an insurance policy, however, can be an emotional as well as a financial decision. As policyholders, we interact with our insurers at critical times – an accident, serious illness, or property damage/loss – that necessitate smooth and hassle-free communication and emotionally intelligent, reassuring engagement. And that’s why it is so essential for insurers to humanize the digital customer experience (CX).
However, it does seem a bit counterintuitive to ‘humanize’ digital customer experience. How is this even possible? This is where emotional AI fits in as it can recognize and respond to human feelings. Early examples of emotional AI are Siri and Alexa and they have paved the way for people to become more comfortable with chatbots and voice assistants to answer their questions.
Today, cognitive bots can have the capability to recognize whether a customer’s voice is agitated and respond with empathy. In New Zealand, health insurer Southern Cross Health Society launched an AI-powered digital assistant – Aimee, in late 2019, that listens, speaks, shows understanding, and communicates in a way only humans can.
Cognitive automation can also help humans provide more personalized and sensitive communication by offering real-time insights into a customer’s history, behavior, and preferences – tools that can aid call center staff to deliver hyper-personalized support. Humana, a leading U.S. insurer, has developed an intelligent digital bot that assists human agents in addressing member queries quickly by collecting the customer’s history from different information systems in real-time.
Insurers that innovate their digital customer journey by building user-friendly websites to delivering seamless and personalized customer care support will expedite hyper-personalized experience for higher customer satisfaction and a boost in customer loyalty.
It makes sense to proactively reach out to customers in the research phase, focus on emotional AI-powered tools to support the purchase phase, and mix cognitive mechanisms and human interaction during customer service management. Integrating empathy with a customer-centric approach for a more human-like experience can build strong insurer-customer relationships and be a source of competitive advantage. Capgemini’s World Insurance Report 2020 takes a close-up look at the channel preferences of customers and the need to humanize the digital experience. It is a must-read for firms seeking to provide superior CX. Download a copy of the report at www.worldinsurancereport.com.