From mounting call volume to staffing shortages, insurance contact centers are in dire need of support. The solution? Digital agents powered by Conversational AI.
Customer experience in insurance is in rough shape, especially within contact centers dealing with calls about new policies, payments and other issues. Call volumes continue to rise, with persistent staffing shortages creating gaping holes in agent positions and support roles, resulting in endless wait times and frustrated customers.
Several key factors unique to the insurance industry are contributing to these worsening conditions. First, insurance products and services are incredibly complex and confusing. Dense contracts, complicated insurance jargon, and constantly evolving state and federal regulations often leave both insurance customers and brokers with more questions than answers.
As Ray August, DXC Technology President of Insurance Software and Business Process Solutions, pointed out during our recent What’s Next hybrid seminar, the industry is also facing a new generation of young buyers who have very little understanding about insurance products. He explained how, unlike other industries, insurers sell products that people purchase very infrequently, and the combination of selling complex products and supporting new buyers is putting greater pressure on phone-based insurance customer support.
Secondly, the COVID-19 pandemic compounded already-mounting pressure on the insurance industry. Across all verticals, call center volume spiked in March 2020 when most customers and employees were forced to stay home, making telephone calls one of the only support channels available. For the insurance industry, however, there was an additional element. As August explained during the seminar, the pandemic made more people consider their own mortality, and as a result, they bought more insurance, increasing the flow of calls coming into insurance contact centers.
Even as the height of the pandemic recedes further into the rearview mirror, contact centers continue to struggle, and as such, insurers will need to reinforce their operations to manage demand. However, hiring more people as agents is costly, time consuming and increasingly challenging due to the Great Resignation, and automated solutions like basic chatbots and outdated IVR systems simply cannot handle the complexity of insurers’ product suites.
To address the industry’s most pressing challenges, insurers today need to reinforce their contact centers with Conversational AI-powered digital agents.
The Many Roles of Digital Agents for Insurance
Digital agents are the clear solution for insurers’ contact center woes, as there are several ways they can be deployed to improve customer experiences.
For example, insurers can hire digital agents to route incoming calls to the correct resources. Unlike chatbots, which have limited integration capabilities, Conversational AI-powered digital agents have robust integration frameworks that enable them to easily connect customers to the help they need.
Digital agents can also be deployed to provide direct support for policyholders. Insurers regularly help customers during times of emotional and/or physical distress, so it’s imperative for providers’ digital agents to possess high levels of emotional intelligence as well. Consider the experience of a client who recently got into a car accident: Whereas a chatbot would conduct the interaction by following a cold pre-set script, a Conversational AI-powered digital agent like Amelia would understand the customer had a traumatic experience, and would use this understanding to respond with a human-like touch.
Some insurers decide to digitally transform their customer experience by deploying Conversational AI as whisper agents for human agents. In this role, digital agents act as sidekicks by instantly pulling customer and product information from back-end systems and providing recommended responses. With this approach, insurance customers still receive one-on-one support from a human, but in a more efficient, personalized and timely manner.
Several of today’s leading insurance companies have taken the leap with Conversational AI and are already experiencing benefits. In fact, during our What’s Next seminar, August shared extraordinary results from an Amelia and DXC Technology joint client success story. This provider was experiencing high call volumes while contending with an 18% staff absenteeism rate within its contact center. The company also used an IVR system to automate incoming calls, but the system struggled to authenticate customers because the process was too complex.
Utilizing Amelia’s Conversational AI solution, together with DXC Technology’s robust conversational API that connects with the service provider’s extensive database, the two partners brought a new solution to market in four months and piloted it with the insurer — and the positive impact was undeniable (see Figure 1). The provider experienced a 7x improvement in call containment and a 6x improvement in the IVR authentication process. The company also saw a remarkable 20x improvement in call routing, leading to a more seamless, efficient and satisfactory customer experience.
That’s just one example of how Amelia and DXC Technology are working together in insurance — and there are many other providers that could benefit from their collective offering. Insurance contact centers are ripe for transformation through automation, given that August said 85% of incoming calls are from customers seeking more information or wanting to execute a transaction — two areas where digital agents like Amelia excel. Together with Amelia, DXC Technology aspires to automate calls to the point where human agents only need to be involved in 10% that require issue resolution (see Figure 2). The insurance industry’s pain points are not subsiding anytime soon, and insurance providers are beginning to realize the immense value that automation and digital agents can bring as they look to grow their business.