3 minute read 18 Jun 2018
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How chatbots and IVAs can enhance customer service for insurers

Thanks to intelligent virtual assistants, asking your insurer questions will soon be as easy as checking the weather via your smart speaker.

For many companies, across multiple sectors, intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) have become an essential component of the customer experience. For insurance carriers, IVAs can be used to optimize the customer experience, increase revenue, lower costs and enhance risk management. For insurance customers, IVAs provide a simple, intuitive interface to access and navigate the full range of an insurer’s content and service offerings.

The power and sophistication of IVAs are driven by integration with existing back-end systems (such as customer relationship management platforms), as well as the quality and quantity of data sources available. (The term “chatbot” is often synonymous with IVA, or used to refer to the underlying technology behind IVAs.)

Ideally, IVAs securely share account details, policy documents and other necessary information to quickly complete transactions within secure interfaces. This behind-the-scenes process automation is critical to unlocking the value of IVAs.



80% of companies already use, or plan to use, chatbots by 2020. (Source: Business Insider)

IVA use cases

The insurance industry’s use of automated communications has lagged compared to other sectors. Thus, insurers have many opportunities to use IVAs and chatbots for immediate improvements across the entire insurance value chain (from underwriting and policy administration, to product, marketing and distribution, to claims management and corporate functions).

Consider how chatbots and IVAs enable two-way communication for these tasks:

  • Serving as virtual agents and streamlining direct messaging for customers who would like to upgrade existing policies with additional coverage
  • Providing faster, more efficient access to roadside assistance for stranded policyholders
  • Simplifying basic policy administration tasks, such as updating an address
  • Automating preliminary steps in application and renewal processes

Four proven benefits of IVAs

1. Increased efficiency

IVAs improve efficiency by managing repetitive tasks and addressing frequently asked questions. With back-end system integration, IVAs can be set up to record customer inputs, which maintains context throughout all interactions and reduces repetitive conversations. Integrated systems can also provide account-specific outputs instantaneously, which provides an efficient and customized CX across all digital touchpoints.

More sophisticated IVAs can handle entire processes, such as claims submissions or policy renewals and upgrades. This automation frees human resources in marketing, sales and customer service to focus on more complex inquiries and higher-value transactions, including those that lead to higher revenue.

2. Enhanced customer experience

IVAs can leverage real-time and behavioral data to provide the highly personalized, highly intuitive and highly convenient on-demand experiences that customers desire.

IVAs operate within a broader suite of communications and touchpoints (ads, websites, call centers and other channels), and they must communicate harmoniously across all channels to create a consistent customer experience. Creating a similar tone and voice across all channels will help establish the persona of the company’s brand.

3. Intelligent upselling and cross-selling

Converging IVAs with AI, machine learning and RPA will generate new methods for acquiring new customers, and upselling and cross-selling existing customers. For example, a fully integrated system can assess and prioritize up-sell opportunities by pulling data insights from marketing, sales and other internal and external data sources. Once a qualified lead list is generated, IVAs can automatically send intelligent upselling and cross-selling messages proactively to targeted customers.

4. Stronger risk management

With proper governance and back-end system integration, IVAs reduce the risk in customer communications by increasing efficiencies and reducing human errors. IVAs also provide an auditable digital trail for compliance officers and regulators, and offer the ability to incorporate advanced authentication procedures.

To instill these stronger risk management practices, robust governance structures must be in place during IVA implementation and rollout to the enterprise. Governance helps enable visibility and proactive control over potential risks, including operational and reputational risks.

Quick wins with IVAs

Many insurers may choose to focus on “quick wins” — use cases with high business value, low complexity and low technical requirements. For example, predefined scripts to guide customers through common and straightforward processes typically combine high business value with relatively simple technical requirements.

Automating employee self-service is another potential quick win. Digitizing this common but important part of the user journey removes the agent as an intermediary and provides an auditable trail from quoting a coverage price to binding a contract with a new customer.

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As insurers digitally transform their businesses, IVAs should be a critical part of their strategy. IVAs are ready for deployment, flexible enough to support a wide range of use cases and have a proven track record in delivering near-term ROI. 

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EY Global

Multidisciplinary professional services organization