It’s a Chatbot

If you haven’t yet encountered a chatbot, you likely will soon. Chatbots are software systems that are programmed to anticipate and respond to common customer inquiries. For instance, within the insurance industry a chatbot might:

  •  Collect consumer information that is then passed along to you as an insurance agent or an insurance company’s customer service representative
  • Answer common insurance questions or direct customers to helpful resources
  • Shepherd customers through the claims process or help them make adjustments to their policy

Consumers may encounter a chatbot as the first customer-service contact on a website. In this case, the chatbot is often used to try to narrow down a customer’s issue in order to direct them to the right person, department or information. In other situations—like filing an uncomplicated insurance claim—a human representative may determine that a chatbot can handle it and send the policyholder a text to start an automated claim process.

Some insurance agencies are starting to use chatbots to free up staff time, so you may already have experience with them. But whether your agency uses a chatbot or not, odds are very good that the insurance companies you work with either already do or will soon. In other words, if you’re an insurance agent, you’ll very likely end up working alongside chatbots in some form or fashion.

For that reason, it’s important to understand some of the limitations of chatbots—they can be efficient, but they can also be frustrating for customers to interact with. Chatbots may misunderstand a customer query if it isn’t worded just so, or they may not be programmed to handle a unique inquiry or complaint. Sometimes they use robotic syntax or word choices that can be alienating.

One way to find out if this is the case for your customers is to make time interact with the same chatbot(s) that your clients will. 

Take a look at the websites of the insurance carriers you work with and try taking their chatbot function for a spin. Type in questions that a consumer might, using the language that they would use. See how easy or difficult you find it and get a feel for how smooth or choppy the process feels. (If the website you are looking at still uses humans for chat, try again in a few months. The use of chatbots is growing exponentially.)

You may find that you want to give your clients a heads-up about a particular part of the claim-filing process or give them tips for how to navigate using the chatbot. You may also need to be prepared to apologize for a chat gone wrong. In this case, acknowledging a client’s frustration without trying to make excuses is a good first step. 

On the plus side, chatbots can provide customer service 24/7 and make it easier for consumers to find answers quickly. They don’t take sick days, and they don’t lose their patience.

As the field of artificial intelligence continues to grow, you can bet that the use of chatbots will, too. The time is now to keep your knowledge and your agency up to date by getting to know more about this useful tool.

Ready for some new prospects? Hometown Quotes has fresh leads for insurance agents all around the country. Give us a call at 800.820.8921 to learn more.

Brendan Sera-Shriar

Brendan Sera-Shriar is the CMO for Hometown Quotes and a Staff Writer for Hometown University.

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