Insurers adopt AI to keep up with customer demands

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The biggest driver behind insurers’ adoption of AI and robotics for customer service is demand from policyholders. That’s according to a new study released by Celent, “Applying Conversational Commerce to Insurance: Aligning IT to the Machine World,” which surveyed 1,820 customers and 134 insurers.

About one-third of customers polled, or 37%, have already used smart technologies to communicate with insurers and prefer it to human interaction. An additional 21% are interested in testing these technologies for the first time. By comparison, one-fifth of insurance carriers have already invested in machine learning techniques with 42% planning to invest in artificial intelligence in the near future.

“There is a harmony between consumers’ and insurers’ growing adoption of new machine-driven interaction tools,” Celent says. “However, these tools create business challenges that insurers need to anticipate and address before investing in smart technologies.”

One of those perceived challenge areas is consumer trust, the study hints. Twenty-nine percent of customers either refuse to use smart technology or would feel uncomfortable in doing so. The largest obstacle in leveraging natural language processing, for example, is ensuring that organizations can handle all the sorts of requests asked by policyholders. Failure to have in-house technologies up to par will result in drawbacks in sales, claims and customer service, Celent says.

“Machine-driven customer touch points require insurance companies to acquire specific business capabilities or at least to strengthen what they already have, especially around customer interactions,” the authors note.

The researcher views API management, CRM and data & analytics as crucial elements in making the most of new customer interaction tools. These tools—whether machine learning, AI bots or voice recognition—should be easily configurable to meet market changes, according to Celent. They must also be comprehensive enough to identify business domain relevant to queries, but also provide alternative answers to customers’ questions.

“With the focus insurers put on offering consumer-oriented communication tools, providing full digital front ends allowing mobile, speedy and comprehensive communications is essential, and therefore [carriers] need to adapt their architecture.”

Craig Beattie and Nicolas Michellod, senior analysts with Celent’s insurance practice, co-authored this report.

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Artificial intelligence Machine learning Robotics Customer experience Claims Customer data Celent