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Conversational Voice AI - The opportunity beyond the crisis

This year has been unprecedented and challenging for humanity. The exponential spread of the novel coronavirus that forced large scale lockdown, has pushed daily lives and economic activity to the wall. It is no surprise that one of the outcomes of COVID-19 is an enormous rise in customers contacting their insurer.

Owing to the significance of the industry to safeguard people, assets, and businesses, insurance hasn’t been an easy industry – given the pandemic, or otherwise. The insurance industry is on the edge of profound change. Insurers operate in an incredibly challenging environment with high competition, growing customer expectations, and strict regulations, privacy laws, compliance, product approvals, and more. Here are some of the key challenges:

Making businesses customer-centric

Customers are demanding better experiences at every step today because they have multiple options to choose from. Customers want to be seen as individuals, and not as market segments. They demand instant resolutions and customer satisfaction and retention are bigger KPIs today than operational efficiency. Insurers are putting the customer at the heart of the business. They are putting data to the right use to understand customer needs, offer customized advice, personalized coverage, and pricing.

The need for speed

Despite the conveniences of technology, speed in the insurance industry has remained a challenge. Claims settlement, for instance, is one of the real determinants of NPS in the insurance industry. Quicker settlements, and seamless pre and post-claim-settlement create rewarding experiences for customers. This is where insurance companies like Lemonade are disrupting the game: the home and renters insurance company provides instantaneous responses the times through an app, eliminating the need for a human agent, and closes processes in minutes.

Offering seamless customer support through call centers

Insurance call centers run multiple processes to support customers with policies, renewals, pricing, sell new business, and address inquiries. One of the biggest challenges that insurance call centers face is the spike in calls – be it travel insurance, critical illness, business disruption, or financial hardship customers swamp insurers with queries, more so owing to the pandemic. For instance, a popular insurance company in the UK witnessed a staggering 1000 percent increase in customer inquiries, claims, and complaints relating to their travel insurance.

Although insurance call centers can usually predict the spike in calls owing to natural calamities and extreme weather changes that are yearly occurrences in some countries, quantifying the number of inquiries has been extremely challenging. This boils down to capacity management and spike management, directly impacting the insurance industry. Added to this are the challenges of offering seamless support during non-working hours and weekends, help customers fill multiple claim forms, elucidate ambiguous jargon and process terms, etc.

Enter Conversational Voice AI

Large insurance companies that made early investments in Chat-led solutions did not see the necessary resolutions as the queries turned out to be much deeper than binary Q&A/FAQs. With voice being the dominant channel for support, Insurance companies are looking to provide personalized customer experiences over voice. With Voice AI, the insurance industry will not only survive the ongoing crisis but also transition from product-centric to customer-centric business models; insurers have already started making big strides towards automation and digitization; Covid-19 has simply pushed them to expedite the journey, literally in a span of days.

Today, there are two highly sensitive touchpoints in Insurance: buying an insurance product, applying for a claim. Virtual voice assistants serve as

  1. platform to reach potential customers and

  2. convenient self-service tools for instant support, that are proving to be a game-changer

Putting the customer in the driver's seat

Today, customers have to follow specific scripts, repeat multiple times, press options, wait to be transferred after giving very basic information, etc. Some IVR solutions have low intent accuracy and are error-prone - taking away the very reason for such solutions to be deployed.

Next-gen deep learning-based voice AI takes the traditional customer service IVR to the next level by enabling more human-like interactions with automatic speech recognition and natural language processing. Voice AI solutions understand the context of the conversation, the speaker's intent, the query, and, most importantly, learn from every interaction. It empowers insurance providers to have natural, meaningful conversations with customers at scale in real-time and deliver better customer experiences. The natural conversational ability of Voice AI-enabled customer service tools drives resolution through conversations including interruption, repetition, pauses, etc., making it very intuitive for a customer in distress or need. Customers can have immediate answers to their questions -- claim eligibility, policy details, expiration dates, renewal, and premium dues -- anytime, anywhere, without talking to a human agent.

Fueled by the need for a new customer experience paradigm

We at Agara understand the impact of the pandemic, however, we did not want to dwell on the problem for too long. We wanted to rather focus on building solutions that can lift insurance businesses instantly, delivering immediate impact.

We began training Agara’s system on a real-world customer support call dataset with access to a massive 30,000+ hours of phone support data being incorporated into our AI algorithms. This dataset is currently increasing at a pace of 250 hours every day. The dataset helped us build ready-to-implement, pre-configured use cases that are highly accurate, specific, and help automate routine customer interactions - for claims handling, collections & billing, account & policy management, and policy advisory.

With Agara’s ability to conduct natural, seamless voice conversations, we are optimistic of emerging as the go-to partner for insurers - to provide seamless customer service, improve CSAT scores, and significantly enhance efficiency.



Agara is a part of our Batch 4 Insurtech Program in Singapore.

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