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Insurance companies must always be available to “take the call” for everyone from distressed customers to lower-level policyholders, but the call doesn’t necessarily have to be answered by a physical agent via a telephone.

But crucially, as AI introduces next-gen customer-centric digital CX solutions, insurers should never lose sight of the human touch that policyholders crave.

The pandemic changed the ways insurers interacted with customers. In 2020, 80% of companies invested in omnichannel support to aid digital CX, with online chatbots and virtual assistants addressing the lack of traditional customer-agent phone discussions. Since then, the level of automation has continued to climb – but customers still want to speak with a human for complex issues or high stakes claims. Data driven CX is critical to future claims handling, but insurers must acknowledge that AI and automation cannot satisfy policyholders alone.

Technological development in CX has a long history

The smart phone marked a turning point for CX, as consumers began carrying around mini supercomputers in their pockets. Service at the customers fingertips became the new standard, but contact centres endured – when customers needed help, they had to call.

Hot on the heels of the smart phone came the development of the webchat, allowing insurance companies to assist on the digital customer journey, followed closely by chatbots to answer FAQs in real time. Further industry developments include video chat, web chat, co-browsing, and SMS responses – all of which leant into tailored CX strategies focussed on maintaining touch with the customer.

Introducing the Digital Voice – the future of AI-driven CX

But customer expectations are always on the rise, with more than half of customers expecting a response in less than 4 hours, despite a current 12 hour average response time. Clearly, there is a need for faster, more efficient customer service.

Enter the power of the digital voice, leveraging AI to deliver personalised, digital CX and removing the burden on customers to provide excessive information. Although AI voice recognition technology is already used in day-to-day living, it can also close the gap between digital self-service and physical customer care. Additional innovations include advanced speech recognition to allow customers to hold conversations with fully automated virtual assistants.

Data-aided deep learning achieves efficiency in human AI

Natural Language Processing asks the right questions to get the right information, meaning insurance providers can anticipate the direction of conversation to lessen the burden on the customer. This captures the genuine need of the customer to map out the best possible continuation of the customer journey.

These automated conversations can then be linked to other channels to confirm action requests for peace-of-mind, but customer data is vital to this AI-driven customer journey. Collecting and using customer data drives innovation, such as using real life scenarios to teach AI how to interpret customer intent. Teams of CX experts are critical to develop these.

Claims contexts are critical

However, regardless of the advanced level of digital services, there will always be customers that still want to talk to a physical agent. Automation can’t solve the human story when it comes to making claims, and some customers still need the reassurance of phone calls, rather than having to explain themselves in an online form or webchat. Here, a new level of intelligent interaction must be built into the digital voice solution, where the customer intention is understood and escalated if necessary.

Digital Voice programmes build in appropriate handover points for colleagues, when the digital to physical journey comes full circle and agent intervention is required – particularly where the AI detects signs of distress or vulnerability.

Ignore the myths – AI uplifts employees

Ultimately, AI and automation isn’t about replacing people in the contact centre, it’s about levelling up customer service by freeing up staff for more complex issues.

And not just that, AI and automation is also creating new skills for contact centre teams by drawing on advisors’ wealth of experience in customer interactions to inform the development of new algorithms. This can even include staff learning how to programme AI to make sure customer interactions are managed in an organic way.

Humanised AI upgrades CX without losing the personal touch

Balancing the level of personalisation and humanity needed to respond to high-level, distressing claims with AI can be difficult. But with a CX strategy focused on effective, humanised claims resolutions, settlements will be offered faster and more efficiently without losing the human touch. Businesses need to ensure the customer never feels forgotten by combining real life customer data, next-gen programming, and the specialised knowledge of CX experts.

About the author

Jayne Lansdell HeadshotJayne Lansdell is currently Associate Director of Process and Technology at BGL Insurance (BGLi), and has seen her fair share of change in Contact Centre technology. Since 2012, she has pioneered the use of real customers to test and trial the use of video chat, web chat, co-browsing, and SMS responses, to build automated voice services and virtual assistance. She is driven by working in a focused, motivated team within a business that allows employees to earn the freedom to explore and expand their knowledge and experience. It’s not just challenges, but the opportunity to grow and learn alongside colleagues that excites her. In this article, she uses her experience to talk about the latest Insurance industry development – AI and automation…