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Humanizing AI sounds like a contradiction in terms, but within the realm of insurance, it’s a necessity for carriers wishing to maintain an enhanced customer experience and better retention.

This is especially true when it comes to sensitivities around the claims process or those initial touch points between customers and the insurance carrier.

Executive Summary

Jennifer Smith, vice president of life product strategy at Sapiens, writes that while it may seem contradictory, insurers can see many benefits from finding ways to humanize AI. In this article, she explores how AI can help bolster the claims process as well as customer service strategies if insurers harness it correctly. She also explains the importance of asking the right questions of customers and demonstrating empathy – one challenge she says AI still hasn’t caught up with when compared to the traditional human touch in insurance.

Nothing discourages a client faster than a complicated onboarding procedure, a convoluted claims process, or a time-sapping phone call. Empathy, rather, is what customers are after – someone who understands the nature of their situation and offers the most appropriate service for their inquiry.

AI has the capacity to enhance the efficiency of tedious insurance processes and can help make insurance clients feel like their broker truly cares – the signature ingredient towards elevating customer experiences. In this way, AI can help bolster the insurance market over the next decade.

The Data Is There

Insurers are sitting on treasure troves of data that has been gathered throughout decades. This data can be used to better understand what types of customers are buying what types of products, how long they keep them, and how well or poorly the whole process is working for them. Likewise, carriers and pricing actuaries can easily access this wealth of data to pinpoint the sweet spot for pricing products based on target markets, helping to reduce the protection gap in the U.S.

The sheer volume of available data is constantly on the rise, but insurers have only started to leverage it more judiciously in recent years. Industry executives are now asking questions like, “How can we use this information to better understand customers in order to provide them with a more positive and humanizing experience through our AI-assisted platforms?”

Context Is Everything

At a customers’ first touch point with an insurer, the initial step is to explore a customer’s needs. AI can offer approaches to use questions and key word responses to better determine a customer’s need and fully grasp the larger context of their situation before offering or recommending a policy or service option.

Questions insurers should be asking include:

  • Can you tel us about why you’re here?
  • What types of activities have been going on in your family recently?
  • Have you recently experienced a significant life event?

AI may be helping insurers deliver precise and personalized experiences, but we still have a way to go before it is able to communicate a deeper sense of empathy, especially to those navigating the often-tricky life insurance process.

Customer-Facing AI

To best cater to customers’ needs, the AI interface needs to function within the boundaries of a cause-and-effect mechanism, one that takes trigger factors into account. For instance, the system needs to ascertain the causes that led to buying annuities, life, or pre-need insurance – perhaps the birth of a child, a recent marriage, or becoming a homeowner.

Regardless of the circumstances, data and empathy empowered AI can facilitate an insurance process in which the customer feels heard and cared for by their insurer, one which even turns their attention to concerns they may not have considered in the first place.

One point of humanizing AI is to win over insurance-seeking customers, as reluctant as they may be to start the process. If done right, not only can this drive purchases, but it can even go so far as changing people’s often less-than-pleasant perceptions of the industry. Imagine what AI could bring to servicing and claims processing as well.

Agent-Facing AI for a New Generation

As vital as it is to the customer experience, humanizing agent-facing AI is especially important for up-and-coming insurance agents replacing the more experienced professionals who are reaching retirement age.

These veterans have had the benefit of watching scores of insurance products mature and decades to understand the processes inside and out, as opposed to the younger agents who have far less familiarity with industry and product nuances.

To mitigate this knowledge gap, the digital user interface of an agent-facing system can guide new agents to ask the questions that matter, explain the most appropriate concepts and products, and help them understand the contextual factors that draw in customers in the first place. The easier it is for an agent to walk a customer through a life insurance policy or a claims process, the better.

Enlightening the younger generation of agents and customers to what information is most important to the insurance company can prompt a more gratifying experience for both parties rather than resorting to filling out endless forms.

A Rewarding Experience

Business leaders across industries are increasingly recognizing the power of artificial intelligence and its potential to improve everything from cost savings to operational efficiencies. The insurance industry, intent upon improving customer experience, is no exception.

Insurance has gone through its fair share of growing pains. But due to the interactive nature of the industry, clients themselves have had to experience these growing pains too, and it has understandably whittled away at the customer experience. Introducing AI-enabled services may have helped to take the edge off, but it didn’t quite smooth over customer frustrations completely.

Humanizing those AI services is what stands to foster better customer experiences. Insurance companies need to understand why the customer is there in the first place –including the context of their situation – and facilitate a personalized journey accordingly. It’s an interaction that’s more rewarding for insureds and agents alike.

Backed by illuminating data and decision criteria, AI can be modified to communicate a sense of human empathy, invigorating the once impersonal insurance process across the value chain.