Chatbots Work … But Are They Working for Insurance?


Chatbots – the automated computer systems that use artificial intelligence to dialogue with customers in real time – are on the rise. And for good reason: chatbots bring a lot of advantages, both for the insurer and the customer, as we’ll see below.

But are there limits to what chatbots can do for you? Sure thing. As it turns out, the best fit is found in the balance.

Chatbots on the up-and-up

According to Craig Guillot at Risk & Insurance, chatbots are “being adopted by most big insurers” at this point, with names like Allstate and GEICO leading the way.

Chatbots work round the clock to screen and route incoming customer questions and quote requests. They also make personalized recommendations, helping users find the best products for their needs. When managed correctly, chatbots streamline processes, reduce customer confusion and cut wait times.

“I believe the main reason for the rapid growth of chatbots in recent years is that they bring measurable value,” said Gary Vela at Forbes. It’s true: cost reduction with chatbots is tangible.

They’re also scalable. “On a phone line, the service is one to one between a customer and a representative,” Vela said. “In a live chat window, the representative can, realistically, scale up to about five customers at a time before their work becomes compromised.”

Robots v. humans?

To date, overall customer satisfaction is pretty good where chatbots are concerned, Guillot said, referencing a finding by SnatchBot, which saw 80 percent satisfaction in a survey of 6,000 customers.

However, there are limitations. “Digital-only customer service is not enough,” said Hugh Terry at Raconteur. The incorrect use of chatbot technology “ducks the fundamental need for people to interact with well-trained staff on complex products.”

Furthermore, chatbots can’t deliver humanity and humor according to Lindsay Willot, CEO of Customer Thermometer. They haven’t earned customer trust. And the chatbot experience (CX) suffers at times from slow load and other usability issues.

It has to be a “both/and”

As Vela suggested, you don’t have to approach the chatbot/human service conundrum as an “either/or.” While chatbots can field some questions on their own, they can also work in partnership with a human representative, who can take over the conversation when it needs to escalate – bringing in the human element, the complex scenario advice, and the high interaction quality – while still attaining excellent efficiencies.

Indeed, that’s just what customers want. According to Willot, Forrester data shows that 63 percent of customers “are happy to be served by a chatbot – if there is an option to escalate the conversation to a human.” And there are plenty of examples of this hybridized approach to draw from, according to Jeff Goldberg at Novarica.

Interested in learning more about chatbots? Silvervine policy administration systems can interface with chatbot technology. Contact us for details.