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“We’ve seen more progress in this technology in the last 30 months than we saw in the last 30 years. Ultimately vocal computing is replacing the traditional graphical user interface.” -Shawn DuBravac

Interface design enables humans to experience and interact with technology. Interestingly, Voice User Interface (VUI), is the ability to speak to devices and its capability, in turn, to understand and act upon users’ commands. 

Voice user interface: the next-gen of UX

Augmenting human intelligence is a lot more daunting than it looks. The difficulty of mimicking human cognition with software is showing Artificial Intelligence researchers that there’s more than one way to be “intelligent”. The rise of voice can be mainly credited to the evolution of AI and cloud computing capabilities. With machine learning and natural language processing, technology now has the ability to interpret human speech more accurately and in real-time, while also taking note of individual users’ speech tendencies.

This sans-hands method of interaction is rapidly gaining traction. With an approach that is more convenient and human-like, VUI is becoming the next generation of human-computer interaction. From asking Siri to book your appointment with the doc next Monday to asking Alexa to play your favourite show on Amazon Prime; the act of using voice commands has become increasingly natural for users.

At the Google I/O 2018 event, CEO Sundar Pichai demoed Google Duplex: A.I. Assistant calling a local business to make an appointment. The eerily lifelike phone call triggered a wave of intrigue and laughter in the 7,000-strong audience. 





Designing a Voice User Interface

Accurate natural language processing has until now existed only in the realm of science fiction. Voice represents the new pinnacle of intuitive interfaces that democratize the use of technology. However tech is still in its nascent stages and not the ultimate incarnation of the medium, but yet it’s currently a strong favourite.

For web and application designers, voice interaction, perhaps, is the biggest UX challenge since the dawn of the touchscreen age. Every voice recognition platform has a unique set of technological constraints. It is essential that you embrace these constraints when architecting a voice interaction UX.

The basic voice UX flow

Speech is the next UX the basic UX flow.

UX was always designed to make interactions as similar to the real world as can be and voice has the potential to make that a reality. UX designers must make sure they’re asking the right questions to elicit the appropriate verbal responses from users. Gender, age, inflexion, tone, accent, cadence and pace are all elements that can be used by UX designers seeking to craft a particular customer experience with their brand.

Below is the sample flow demonstrating the process of speech recognition

A more viable approach could be to prioritize and summarize the information based on known user preferences, prior to delivering an answer – in other words, doing what a normal person would naturally do in a conversation

More complex queries, at times, fall further off the cliff. Risking unpleasant interactions is something brands can rarely afford. Keeping this in mind, error messages could be crafted in a way that’s not only less annoying but also gets users back on track while presenting additional options.

Can we expect a ‘humane’ VUI?

In this age of expected instant gratification, it’s hard to imagine an average user patiently listening to their AI assistant as it narrates a laundry list of all continental restaurants one by one. We want our voice interactions to be as immediate as human alternatives.

VUI’s are extremely complex, multifaceted, and often hybrid amalgams of interaction. Voice interaction may not have garnered the same fanfare just yet. However, for the time being, the creation of a multi-model interface can ignite the furnace for an all-voice controlled interface. 

Will VUIs eventually become our primary means of interaction?

Let us know your views by commenting.

Fun fact

Celebrities are likely to find a brand new income stream from licensing not just their voices, but entire personalities as AI assistants. Sounds ridiculous? It does, but you can already pay about $10 to make your TomTom GPS nav unit speak like Snoop Dogg. Go for it!

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Chatbots are the assistants of the future and they are taking the Internet by storm. Ever since their first appearance in 1994, the goal was to create an AI that could conduct a real dialogue with their interlocutors. The purpose is to free up customer service agents’ time so they could focus on more delicate tasks- which require a more human approach.

If you are thinking about including a chatbot on your website, here are the things you need to keep in mind to boost customer engagement and deliver high-quality services.

Define your audience

First things first- think about who will be interacting with the chatbot? Who are your customers? How do they talk? How can you address them in a way they’ll enjoy? How can you help them?

For instance, if your company sells clothes that are mostly designed for young adults, using a less formal tone will be much more appealing to them.

Lisa Wright, a customer service specialist at Trust My Paper advice: “Customer service calls are usually recorded, so listening to a few of them can be a good place to start designing your chatbot’s lines of dialogue.”

Give your bot some character

People don’t like to talk to plain, simple robots. Therefore, giving your chatbot some personality is a must. Some brands prefer naming their chatbots and even design an animated character for them. This makes the interaction more real.

For example, The SmarterChild chatbot- designed back in 2000, was able to speak to around 2,50,000 humans every day with funny, sad, and sarcastic emotions.

However, the chatbot’s character needs to match your brand identity and at the same time- appeal to customers. Think about – how would the bot speak, if they were real? Are there some phrases or words they would never use? Do they tell jokes? All these need to be well-thought through, before going into the chatbot writing and design phase.

According to a report published by Ubisend in 2017, 69% of customers use the chatbot to get an instant answer. Only 15% of them would interact for fun. Thus, don’t sacrifice the performance for personality. 

Also read – 5 Key Success Metrics for Chatbots

Revise your goals before chatbot writing

Alexa- Amazon bot has 30+ skills which include scheduling an appointment, booking a cab, reading news, playing music, controlling a smartphone, and more. However, every business bot doesn’t need to be a pro in every assisting job.

Before entering the writing phase, think over once again – WHY you need a chatbot? Will it help customer service only? Or will it also help in website navigation, purchase, return, refund, etc.?

Usually, customers want one of the three things when they visit your site: an answer to something they’re looking for, make a purchase, or a solution to their problem. You can custom build your chatbot to tackle either one or all of these three situations. Many brands use chatbots to create tailored products for their clients.  

Cover all possible scenarios

When you start writing the dialogue, consider the fact that a conversation can go in many directions. To ensure that all the situations are covered- start with a flowchart of all possible questions and the answers you chatbot can give.

To further simplify your chatbot writing, take care of one scenario at a time and focus on keeping the conversation short and simple. If the customer is too specific or is not satisfied with the bot’s response, do not hesitate to redirect them to your customer service representatives.

For instance, Xiaocle is one of the most successful interactive chatbots launched by Microsoft in July 2014. Within three months of its launch, Xiaocle accomplished over 0.5 billion conversations. In fact, speakers couldn’t understand that they’re talking to a bot for 10 minutes.

Also read – Why should businesses consider chatbots?

This article is contributed to Mantra Labs by Dorian Martin. Dorian is an established blogger and content writer for business, career, education, marketing, academics, and more.

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The antiquated commodity of Financial ‘Coverage & Protection’ is getting a new make-over.  Conventional epigrams like ‘Insurance is sold and not bought’ are becoming passé. Customers are now more open than ever before to buying insurance as opposed to being sold by an agent.  The industry itself is witnessing an accelerated digitalization momentum on the backs of 4G, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence-based technologies like Machine Learning & NLP.

As new technologies and consumer habits keep evolving, so are insurance business models. The reality for many insurance carriers is that they still don’t understand their customers with great accuracy and detail, which is where intermediaries like agents and distributors still hold incredible market power.

On the other hand, distribution channels are turning hybrid, which is forcing carriers to be proficient in their entire channel mix. Customer expectations for 2020 will begin to reflect more simplicity and transparency in their mobility & speed of service delivery.

A recently published Gartner Hype Cycle highlights 29 new and emerging technologies that are bound for greater business impact, that will ultimately dissolve into the fabric of Insurance.

For 2020 and beyond, newer technologies are emerging along with older but more progressively maturing ones creating a wider stream of opportunities for businesses.

Gartner-Hype-Cycle

Irrespective of the technology application adopted by insurers — real, actionable insights is the name of the game. Without it, there can be no long term gains. Forrester research explains “Those that are truly insights-driven businesses will steal $1.2 trillion per annum from their less-informed peers by 2020”.

Based on the major trends identified in the Hype Cycle, 5 of the most near-term disruptive technologies and their use cases, are profiled below.

  1. Emotion AI
    Emotion Artificial Intelligence (AI) is purported to detect insurance fraud based on the audio analysis of the caller. This means that an AI system can decisively measure, understand, simulate and react to human emotions in a natural way.

    F0r Insurers, sentiment and tone analysis captured from chatbots fitted with emotional intelligence can reveal deeper insights into the buying propensity of an individual while also understanding the reasons influencing that decision.

Emotion-Intelligence-Market



Autonomous cars can also sensors, cameras or mics that relay information over the cloud that can be translated into insights concerning the emotional state of the driver, the driving experience of the other passengers, and even the safety level within the vehicle.

Gartner estimates that at least 10% of personal devices will have emotion AI capabilities, either on-device or via the cloud by 2022. Devices with emotion AI capacity is currently around 1%.

  1. Augmented Intelligence
    Augmented Intelligence is all about process intelligence. Widely touted as the ‘future of decision-making’, this technology involves a blend of data, analytics and AI working in parallel with human judgement. If Scripting is rules based automation, then ‘Augmenting’ is engagement and decision oriented.

    This manifests today for most insurance carriers as an automated back-office task, but over the next few years, this technology will be found in almost all internal and customer facing operations. Insurers can potentially offer personalised services based on the client’s individual capacity and exposure to risk — creating opportunities for cross/up-selling.
Gartner-Data-Analytics-Trends-Forecast-2019


Source: Gartner Data Analytics Trends for 2019


For instance, Online Identity Verification is an example of a real-time application that not only enhances human’s decision making ability, but also requires human intervention in only highly critical cases. The Global value from Augmented AI Tools will touch $4 Trillion by 2022.

  1. AR Cloud
    The AR Cloud is simply put a real-time 3D map of an environment, overlayed onto the real World. Through this, experiences and information can be shared without being tied down to a specific location. Placing virtual content using real world coordinates with associated meta-data can be instantly shared and accessed from any device.

    For insurers, there is a wide range of opportunities to entice shopping customers on an AR-Cloud based platform by presenting personalized insurance products relevant to the items they are considering buying.

    The AR ecosystem will be a great way to explain insurance plans to customers, provide training and guidance for employees, assist in real-time damage estimation, improve the quality of ‘moment-of-truth’ engagements. This affords modern insurance products to co-exist seamlessly along the buying journey.

  2. Personification
    Personification is a technology that is wholly dependent on speech and interaction. Through this, people can anthropomorphize themselves and create avatars that can form complex relationships. The Virtual Reality-based concept will be the next way of communicating and forming new interactions.

    VR Applications such as  accident recreation, customer education and live risk assessment, can help insurers lower costs for its customers and personalise the experience.

    Brands have already begun working their way into this space, because as they see it — if younger generations are going to invariably use this technology for longer portions of their day for work, productivity, research, entertainment, even role-playing games, they will shop and buy this way too.

  3. Flying Autonomous Vehicles and Light Cargo Drones
    Although this technology is only a decade away from being commercially realized, the non-flying form is about to make its greatest impact since its original conception. Regulations are the biggest obstacle to the technology taking off, while its functionality continues to improve.

    The Transportation & Logistics ecosystem is on the brink of a complete shift, which will create a demand for a wide array of insurance related products and services that covers autonomous vehicles and cargo delivery using light drones.

While automation continues to bridge the gaps, InsurTechs and Insurance Carriers will need to embrace ahead of the curve and adopt newer strategies to drive sustainable growth.

Mantra Labs is an InsurTech100 company solving complex front & back-office processes for the Digital Insurer. To know more about our products & solutions, drop us a line at hello@mantralabsglobal.com

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