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Insurance agents and carriers want to be there for clients as much as they can, but the reality is that agents can’t always be available to help, at least in a timely manner. That’s where chatbots for insurance agents can come in handy.
Chatbots can’t do everything that insurance agents can do, but when used as a complementary offering, chatbots can be a great way for insurance agents to improve customer service. In turn, better customer service can lead to benefits like greater customer retention and overall growth.
From answering common policy-related questions to pointing customers to relevant help resources, to even handling functions like payments in some cases, chatbots can be a great way to automate and streamline some aspects of customer service. In turn, that helps insurers:
- Serve customers more efficiently so they don’t get frustrated with wait times
- Enable clients to choose self-service options if they prefer
- Anticipate client needs
- Serve customers across more channels
In this guide to using chatbots for insurance customer service, we’ll dive into how chatbots can be used on a complimentary basis, the benefits of chatbots, and where chatbots can be used.
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Using Chatbots for Insurance Support on a Complimentary Basis
Chatbots are on the rise, with the number of service organizations implementing them growing by almost two-thirds since 2018, finds Salesforce. Still, there’s a lot more room for adoption, with Gartner finding that only 31% of insurance companies offer live chat or a chatbot on their public sites.
Just don’t expect to handle everything through chatbots. You don’t want to turn customers away with overly intrusive bots, nor do you want to seem impersonal or unable to solve unique customer service issues. Keep in mind that phone support is still the most preferred customer service channel, but online chat now ranks second, finds Gartner.
So, insurance agents may want to experiment with chatbots and see how they can use them strategically to assist specific functions, rather than replacing their customer service activities entirely with a bot. That may take some trial-and-error, as well as potentially asking for direct feedback from customers. But it’s also helpful to look at what’s happening across industries to see how people like to use chatbots.
For example, Userlike, a live chat, and chatbot software company, finds that 54% of people would ask chatbots about products, and 30% would use chatbots for bill paying. A smaller number, 23%, would settle disputes through chatbots. So, keep in mind that more nuanced and/or sensitive areas may be better served by human insurance agents, whereas more generic, routine customer service tasks can be handled by a chatbot.
“Automation is a great way to deflect repetitive, mundane queries, freeing up your live agents to focus on more complex, high-value issues,” notes Zendesk.
Insurance agents may also want to use chatbots as a bridge to human conversation. Userlike finds that a majority “would be willing to talk to a chatbot initially in order to be transferred to an agent.”
Increasing Customer Service Efficiency and Effectiveness
One of the best ways to use chatbots is to increase customer service efficiency and effectiveness. Large insurance companies, for example, may be inundated with customer questions and can’t keep up in a timely manner. Smaller insurance agencies can struggle too, as they may not have the staffing to respond to all questions quickly, especially over weekends, holidays and employee vacations.
Plus, some customers prefer to help themselves, finding that experience to be easier for them than, say, scheduling a call with an insurance agent. In all of these cases, chatbots may be able to help insurance firms improve their customer service.
Handling More Inquiries
One benefit of using chatbots for insurance is that you can increase your capability to handle client inquiries. For every relatively simple request that a chatbot solves, like informing customers about what types of policies you sell, informing customers of a due date for renewals, or directing customers to a webpage to complete an action they’re trying to accomplish, that’s one less request that an insurance agent or customer support representative needs to manually handle. That means insurers can dedicate more time to handling complex inquiries and ultimately process more requests in a given period.
Even something as simple as a chatbot automatically informing a customer about when an insurance agent will be available for more detailed follow-up can help, rather than a customer sending a message and not knowing when they’ll get a response. That heads up might then prompt the customer to hang on until you can get to their query, rather than them turning elsewhere, such as getting a quote from a competitor instead of seeing if you can help with a renewal.
Sometimes customers want to be able to handle issues on their own, whether that’s because they find it more convenient, they’re more comfortable with this approach, or any other reason. In fact, during the pandemic, 78% of service professionals note that customers used self-service more, finds Salesforce.
So, chatbots can be used to enable more self-service options, such as if a customer wants to get more information on a policy or pay a bill without having to call an insurance agent.
“Combining online chat with other self-service options such as searchable FAQs can reduce volumes an estimated 20-40%, therefore helping to lower handle times and cost per contact across all channels,” says Gartner.
Anticipating Client Needs
In some cases, chatbots can even anticipate client needs to improve customer service. When chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence, they may be able to quickly analyze customer data to make suggestions that an insurance agent may not be able to do themselves in a timely manner.
For example, if a customer is asking a chatbot about their policy options, the chatbot may be able to analyze past customer trends and current information about a particular customer to make unique policy recommendations. The chatbot may be even able to make these recommendations on their own, without customers prompting them.
“AI-powered virtual assistants enable businesses to proactively message customers based on user behavior, purchase history, page views, actions, and other conditions,” says Zendesk.
Where to Implement Chatbots for Insurance
Understanding the value of chatbots for insurance is one thing, but how do you go about actually implementing them? There are several places where you can use chatbots for insurance, and insurance agents do not typically need to be tech experts to use chatbots. Many software platforms make it easy to get started across channels.
A great place to use a chatbot for insurance can be on your website. When customers come to your site, a chatbot can help them get the information they need, whether they’re looking to make a payment, obtain a new quote, or answer another type of question.
That said, you don’t want these chatbots to be overly intrusive; ask yourself or a trusted friend if the chatbot detracts from the user experience of browsing your website in comparison to the benefit they provide of quickly pointing visitors to the right information (assuming the chatbot accurately understands the customer and can fulfill this role).
Social Media Chatbots
Within social media platforms like Facebook Messenger directly or through third-party chatbot creation platforms like Chatfuel, insurance agents can develop social media chatbots that help improve customer service through social channels.
These bots differ from ones that automate social media engagement, which can be frowned upon if not in violation of some platforms’ rules. Instead, social media chatbots can be used to follow up with customers after they reach out via a social media ad, for example. They help insurance agents be able to at least start conversations 24/7, rather than needing to wait for an agent to see the message and respond.
Text Message Chatbots
Platforms like ManyChat or MobileMonkey make it easy to create text message or SMS chatbots. Insurance agents can quickly create chatbots without coding knowledge that allow customers to simply text a number for automated support.
Using text message or SMS chatbots for insurance can be a great option to expand your customer service channels, without insurance agents needing to physically be on their phones 24/7.
See How Chatbots Can Help Your Insurance Business
Chatbots can be a great way for insurance agents and carriers to improve customer service. From handling more client queries to enabling self-service, to anticipating client needs, there are many benefits to using chatbots for insurance.
The right way to implement chatbots can differ from insurer to insurer though, so it’s important to see what works for your business. You may want to test out chatbots across a few different channels and using different chatbot platforms to see what works well for your business and your customers’ needs. In doing so, you can ideally find ways to improve your customer service to help your business grow more overall.