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How is AI extending customer support during COVID-19 pandemic

4 minutes, 14 seconds read

With over 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the world and more than 200,000 deaths to date since the first report; coronavirus has spread wreaking havoc on any back-office operation, and more intensely on call centers throughout the globe.

For a couple of years now, organizations have only been theorizing the possibility of AI to enhance customer support. It was always a thing that could wait. However, now AI is proving to be a pressing matter over other priorities, and organizations are ready for widespread development than perhaps assumed.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

From banking to travel to finance; given reduced staffing and limited work-from-home options, the call center agents are overwhelmed by the influx of calls; for which the consumers are facing long latencies. These circumstances can, in turn, lead to a huge strain on the workforce and the industry as well. As businesses struggle to cover an increase in call volume, according to an old adage “necessity is the mother of invention.”, AI-enabled customer support has come to rescue. 

“People want what’s best for them, and they can switch on a dime because there’s always a new disruptor disrupting the last disruptor. So companies should just strive to keep changing and adapting to their customers’ needs.”

Ben Chestnut, Co-founder & CEO of MailChimp

AI has the capability of revolutionizing the relationship between a company and it’s clients. 64% of consumers and 80% of business buyers said that they want companies to interact with them in real-time. AI in customer support today can provide significant cost saving, triage calls on priority, volume elasticity, and meet customer expectation; that will eventually benefit the business in the long term.

Primary Concerns

Due to the pandemic outbreak and prolonged lockdown periods in several countries, businesses are forced to transition to work from home models. However, companies are not in favour of giving access to sensitive data to its employees outside the office premises. Along with privacy concerns, there are mobility concerns with the call center operations. Theoretically, technology can simplify mobility solutions. In a developing country like India, where only 2-3% of people use wired broadband and the majority of users rely on mobile data, uninterrupted internet connection is a real struggle.

“Now more than ever, customers need fast responses and AI and Automation can help”

Gadi Shamia, CEO of Replicant.

AI in Customer Support

Artificial intelligence in customer service is extremely useful to answer FAQs and resolve common customer support issues without the presence of a live agent. It can classify calls on the basis of options, business priorities and suggest solutions to the consumer according to their specific needs. Unlike the generation-old IVRs, the AI-enabled customer service, powered by NLP, shall understand the customer’s needs and allow him to converse as if he was speaking with a live agent. 

With the rising number of COVID-19 cases, customer queries at hospitals are increasing exponentially caused by high demand in consultation. To adapt to the situation, hospitals are turning to chatbots and virtual assistants. Here are some interesting use cases of AI in customer support bots.

Lili

Vozy’s Lili, is a conversational AI platform that provides customer assistance by alleviating pressure due to high call volume.

WHO Health Alert chatbot

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a dedicated messaging service, the WHO Health Alert chatbot to provide the latest news and information on COVID -19.

Read: How is technology helping to combat coronavirus pandemic?

Illinois

In partnership with Google AI, Quantiphi and Carahsoft created a 24/7 AI-enabled customer service bot, Illinois to provide immediate assistance to the filers with the FAQs.

Hitee

Hitee is the world’s first insurance specific chatbot solution. It allows integrating document processing workflows, ticket management systems, etc. to further simplify and automate customer support. Apart from 10x increasing customer interaction, Hitee also brought in new business leads and renewals for an eminent insurance company, Religare.

The crux

One fit for all is a myth now, even in customer support. AI-powered bots are proving to be revolutionary in customer support when it comes to customization of User Experience. Companies like Amazon, Starbucks and Netflix are implementing AI to track and analyse customer data and provide quick and easy resolutions to the customer problems. It also provides companies with deeper insights into the product based on demographic gender and various other factors.

AI-powered bots are capable of providing 24 X 7 customer support, more importantly after working hours and holidays. They prove to be not only cost-effective but also scalable throughout the enterprise. 

Customer support is the mainstay of any business. In these testing times, every call centre is under intense pressure due to the pandemic outbreak. Since customer expectations are higher than ever businesses are looking for advanced technological capabilities to bridge the gap. By adding AI-powered tools in customer support operations, businesses can not only improve customer experience but also have numerous business implications such as lower customer churn, higher revenues, less staff turnover and increased growth. If you need interfacing software for your specific business needs, please feel free to write to us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com.

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Retention playbook for Insurance firms in the backdrop of financial crises

4 minutes read

Belonging to one of the oldest industries in the world, Insurance companies have weathered multiple calamities over the years and have proven themselves to be resilient entities that can truly stand the test of time. Today, however, the industry faces some of its toughest trials yet. Technology has fundamentally changed what it means to be an insurer and the cumulative effects of the pandemic coupled with a weak global economic output have impacted the industry in ways both good and bad.

Chart, line chart

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Source: Deloitte Services LP Economic Analysis

For instance, the U.S market recorded a sharp dip in GDP in the wake of the pandemic and it was expected that the economy would bounce back bringing with it a resurgent demand for all products (including insurance) across the board. It must be noted that the outlook toward insurance products changed as a result of the pandemic. Life insurance products were no longer an afterthought, although profitability in this segment declined over the years. Property-and-Casualty (P&C) insurance, especially motor insurance, continued to be a strong driver, while health insurance proved to be the fastest-growing segment with robust demand from different geographies

Simultaneously, the insurance industry finds itself on the cusp of an industry-wide shift as technology is starting to play a greater role in core operations. In particular, technologies such as AI, AR, and VR are being deployed extensively to retain customers amidst this technological and economic upheaval.

Double down on digital

For insurance firms, IT budgets were almost exclusively dedicated to maintaining legacy systems, but with the rise of InsurTech, it is imperative that firms start dedicating more of their budgets towards developing advanced capabilities such as predictive analytics, AI-driven offerings, etc. Insurance has long been an industry that makes extensive use of complex statistical and mathematical models to guide pricing and product development strategies. By incorporating the latest technological advances with the rich data they have accumulated over the years, insurance firms are poised to emerge stronger and more competitive than ever.

Using AI to curate a bespoke customer experience

Insurance has always been a low-margin affair and success in the business is primarily a function of selling the right products to the right people and reducing churn as much as possible. This is particularly important as customer retention is normally conceived as an afterthought in most industries, as evidenced in the following chart.

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        Source: econconusltancy.com

AI-powered tools (even with narrow capabilities) can do wonders for the insurance industry at large. When architected in the right manner, they can be used to automate a bulk of the standardized and automated processes that insurance companies have. AI can be used to automate and accelerate claims, assess homeowner policies via drones, and facilitate richer customer experiences through sophisticated chatbots. Such advances have a domino effect of increasing CSAT scores, boosting retention rates, reducing CACs, and ultimately improving profitability by as much as 95%.

Crafting immersive products through AR/VR

Customer retention is largely a function of how good a product is, and how effective it is in solving the customers’ pain points. In the face of increasing commodification, insurance companies that go the extra mile to make the buying process more immersive and engaging can gain a definite edge over competitors.

Globally, companies are flocking to implement AR/VR into their customer engagement strategies as it allows them to better several aspects of the customer journey in one fell swoop. Relationship building, product visualization, and highly personalized products are some of the benefits that AR/VR confers to its wielders.  

By honoring the customer sentiments of today and applying a slick AR/VR-powered veneer over its existing product layer, insurance companies can cater to a younger audience (Gen Z) by educating them about insurance products and tailoring digital delivery experiences. This could pay off in the long run by building a large customer base that could be retained and served for a much longer period.

The way forward

The Insurance industry is undergoing a shift of tectonic proportions as an older generation makes way for a new and younger one that has little to no perceptions about the industry. By investing in next-generation technologies such as AR/VR, firms can build new products to capture this new market and catapult themselves to leadership positions simply by way of keeping up with the times.

We have already seen how AR is a potential game-changer for the insurance industry. It is only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.

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