Hate Buying? Chatbots Can Help

Chatbots are still in their early stages, but it is hard not to see their game-changing potential in the insurance space.

If you wanted to buy health insurance, how would you do it? I’d probably Google “health insurance,” click on the first link (maybe skip the ads out of an irrational disdain) and reach a website that looks something like this: Once I am here, I find that I am woefully unprepared to carry on. What is basic sum insured? Pre-hospitalization? Post-hospitalization? Convalescence benefit? Ideally, I would have known what all these terms meant before I started searching for insurance, but I didn't. Insurance providers such as HDFC Ergo know that many people don't understand these terms and provide more information. In the picture above, clicking on the little circled “i’s” next to each plan feature reveals further information. This is helpful — but only to a point. If I expand too many boxes, the screen starts to look like a jumble of words. At this point, I would do what all people do best: procrastinate. I would return to Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat or Instagram and indulge myself in the endless stream of instant gratification I can get by simply picking up my phone or opening a new tab. Suffice it to say that websites can only take you so far. Too much text clutters the user interface (UI) and makes the experience unpleasant. Too little text, and the user is too uninformed to make a decision. See also: How Chatbots Change Open Enrollment   Consequently, insurance providers add the option for real human interaction in the form of instant call-backs and live chats. Through these media, an insurance broker could answer all the questions a potential customer has and tell him exactly what he should or shouldn’t buy. The customer doesn’t need to do any digging or reading on his own. However, this, too, is not a perfect solution. Hiring real people is not scalable. They need to be clothed, fed and given days off. If you are a multinational insurance company, you can throw money at these problems and minimize the inconvenience. If you are a smaller company, though, this is not an option. You might as well say goodbye to on-the-fence customers and focus on the informed ones. But what if there was a solution? What if you could have human interaction without the cost? Or could inform users without human interaction? This is the promise of chatbots. Chatbots make conveying information easier than in traditional media. They take a daunting and impersonal process like reading up on insurance plans and turn it into a simple conversation. Imagine if all those uninformed leads could be funneled into a familiar WhatsApp-like interface, where a piece of software living on Amazon’s servers personally answered all queries as if it were a human. Chatbots interact with potential clients as a real human would to collect basic information about a person's level of knowledge and stage in the buying process. Thus, when a human does eventually get in touch with each potential client, that human doesn't need to waste time figuring out what the client knows and can begin helping immediately. See also: 4 Hot Spots for Innovation in Insurance   Here is an example of how Securenow, an insurance brokerage company, uses chatbots to help customers. And this is how you can even showcase the best-suited insurance plans over a chatbot. Chatbots are still in their early stages, but it is hard not to see their game-changing potential in the insurance space. In an industry where information is important — if not necessary — in making purchasing decisions, chatbots have the potential to make the buying process easier for all parties involved.

Ish Jindal

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Ish Jindal

Ish Jinal is founder of Tars, a technology platform that enables businesses and brands to build conversational bots.

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