Tag Archives: Zurich Insurance

Are Insurers Ready for Voice Search?

Who do property and casualty insurance customers turn to when they need help?

In the past, answers have included insurance agents, customer helplines and company websites. Today, however, customers are increasingly likely to consult Alexa, Siri or Cortana.

As voice assistants gain popularity in homes, in cars and on smartphones, they’re also gaining traction as a marketing tool. Here, we look at the ways in which insurance companies are using voice assistants as part of their marketing and sales strategy, as well as what to expect in the near future.

How Voice Assistants Are Changing Marketing

Voice assistants commonly come in one of two forms: wireless speakers that can be placed in the home or office, or as built-in tools on smartphones. iPhones and various Android devices have had them for a few years now.

In some ways, voice assistants work similarly to visual or text-based tools like smartphone apps and Google search bars. The user asks a question or enters a command, and the device responds to it. Voice assistants like Alexa even offer apps, or “skills,” that work similarly to smartphone apps — except they rely on audio rather than visuals to share information, TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez writes.

The audio-based approach changes the ways in which both search results and apps work on voice assistant devices. A text-based Google search, for instance, returns a list of links from which the user can choose. A voice-based search, however, tends to return the single response the AI thinks best fits the user’s query.

Some experts praise this option for its speed and flexibility. “Since voice flattens menus, it will make daily tasks far easier to complete,” Jelli CEO Mike Dougherty says. Yet it also puts additional pressure on marketing teams to ensure that their content gets chosen by the various search engines that inform each voice-based device, says Richard Yao, senior associate of strategy and content at IPG Media Lab.

Voice assistants haven’t just changed how search results are presented. They have also changed how users launch searches in the first place, says More Visibility’s Jill Goldstein. While text-based searches tend to focus on two or three keywords, voice-based searches use full, natural-language sentences. These often start with question words like “what,” “how” or “when.”

See also: Insurtech Starts With ‘I’ but Needs ‘We’  

These questions give marketers insight into where shoppers are in their buying journey and how best to meet their needs — but only if marketing teams are collecting and using this information, says Tyler Riddell, vice president of marketing for eSUB Construction Software.

Not only are marketing teams learning to adapt to the differences between audio and visual, but they’re also learning how to adapt to a search tool that adapts itself.

Because voice assistants use artificial intelligence and machine learning, they can adapt to changes in search terms, says Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal. The onboard AI is designed to learn over time, gaining a better sense of how users frame their queries and the sort of information they may be looking for.

‘Alexa, Find Me Auto Insurance’: The Rising Demand for Voice Search

Based on recent sales trends, 55% of U.S. households are expected to have a smart home speaker, with voice assistance enabled, in their houses by the end of 2019, Dara Treseder at Adweek reports. Voice assistants are also a mainstay of many smartphones, from Apple’s Siri to Google’s voice search option triggered by saying, “OK, Google.”

Insurance customers increasingly prefer to include digital channels in their search for property and casualty insurance. With voice assistants occupying millions of smartphones and a wide range of other devices, customers increasingly prefer to rely on these tools, as well.

Nearly half (46%) of insurance customers already use voice search tools at least once per day, according to Shane Closser at Property Casualty 360. One in four want their voice assistants to be able to give them more information on insurance agents and products. One in three wanted to use voice assistants to book appointments with a particular insurance agent.

Service-based companies that offer “highly complex and highly personal” services are uniquely suited to thrive in the voice search era, says Adweek’s Julia Stead. While Stead focuses on travel, finance and healthcare, her analysis applies to P&C insurers, as well, because these companies also offer services that have long been accessed via voice (phone), are tailored to the needs of each customer and often require access at odd locations or hours.

And while the conversation about tech innovation often focuses on younger users, voice assistants are increasingly popular with older insurance customers.

See also: Future of Insurance Looks Very Different  

Lauryn Chamberlain at GeoMarketing.com says that 37% of consumers age 50 and older say they use a voice assistant, often because simply speaking to a smart speaker or phone is easier than tapping, swiping or reducing a question to its key search terms. In other words, older users can think of their voice assistants as a helpful background entity rather than as a device.

In short, voice assistants are cutting across demographics. They’re entering more homes and workspaces. And insurance customers want to use them to secure coverage.

How P&C Insurers Are Incorporating Voice Into Their Marketing

Several insurance companies are already experimenting with voice assistant tools as part of their own marketing process, according to Danni Santana at Digital Insurance. For instance, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual (and subsidiary SafeCo) and Farmers have all launched Amazon Echo Skills.

Progressive, meanwhile, joined Google Home in March 2017, the first insurance carrier to do so, according to Rachel Brown at Mobile Marketer.

Other insurance companies have experimented with different approaches. Amica Mutual Insurance, for example, launched an Alexa skill that doesn’t connect users to their individual accounts. Rather, it offers information in more than a dozen categories to help users better understand billing, discounts, storm preparation and more.

With the development of Alexa skills and similar tools, brands are thinking about how a voice assistant’s sound affects their brand development, says Jennifer Harvey, VP of branding and communications at Bynder. The choice of voice tone, pitch and speed can all send a powerful message about an insurer’s brand and culture, whether it’s reassuring, serious, cheerful or anything in between.

One of the big opportunities for insurance companies and voice assistants is access. Currently, voice assistants can take on many simple tasks but can’t always handle a transaction as complex as ensuring a customer receives the right home or auto coverage for their needs. Yet developments in AI and voice recognition indicate this may change. “Alexa is already capable of placing a complicated pizza order,” says Inbal Lavi, CEO of Webpals Group, “underscoring that voice assistants will act as more than middlemen.”

For now, however, even the digital middleman approach can benefit potential and current P&C insurance customers and the companies that serve them. “We want to enable easy access for our customers,” says Alexander Bernert, head of brand management at Zurich Insurance. “Consumers do not necessarily think of taking out disability insurance between 9 am and 5 pm, but maybe even shortly before midnight.”

It can be tough to reach an insurance agent shortly before midnight. But a voice assistant can find one, provide information and even schedule an appointment — making it easier for potential customers to turn into actual purchasers.

In a world where insurance customers already do research and contact insurers via multiple channels, voice assistants are a natural frontier for insurance marketing.

Will You Own a Self-Driving Vehicle?

The introduction of self-driving vehicles (SDVs) poses many questions. Working for Zurich, I’m often asked about the insurance and liability implications: “What happens if my SDV is involved in an accident, and who pays?” Increasingly, I am facing a line of more technical and legal questioning. For example, “Who homologates the vehicle, approves its circulation, certifies that it complies to safety standards?” Or even, “Am I allowed to operate an SDV to run my morning errands?” I expect these questions to become more complex as we get closer to the reality of our purchasing our first SDVs.

As a strong supporter of public transport, I am keen to understand how the path to autonomy will influence urban buses, trams and the like. Will the trend for car clubs, and sharing in general, extend to SDVs, or will vehicles be mostly owned by individuals and fleet managers? And if SDVs do become a shared mode of transport, how will customers react to boarding a two-seater “autonomous pod,” left dirty by that nice gentleman who just stepped out?

No one has a crystal ball that can predict the potential legal, cultural and behavioral impact of SDVs, so it’s important that we experiment and learn — like the researchers at CityMobil2 are doing with a number of demonstrations across Europe. Zurich has just announced it will work with them and, we hope, other similar organizations.

Every big oak was once a small acorn.

Of Robots, Self-Driving Cars and Insurance

I’ve recently returned from the World Economic Forum annual meeting of the “new champions” in China, where the subject of innovation was high on the agenda. I was relieved to learn that robots can effectively work alongside humans instead of necessarily replacing us (and we can thank the dexterity of our fingers, of all things).

But the meeting got me thinking. With all the current investment into self-driving vehicles (SDVs), could robots ever replace us as drivers?

I deeply care about any developments in motor technology that might affect the risks that our customers are exposed to, and in Zurich we are dedicated to helping them manage these risks. Consequently, we are very interested in the potential for making road usage safer for everyone.

On-board sensors (telematics) and SDVs could be disruptive for society, and they will have a dramatically positive impact in saving lives, reducing accidents and injuries and increasing productivity, as well as benefiting the environment and road infrastructure. However, I expect that it will take at least another 10 to 15 years before SDVs move from controlled tests to a first adoption on some public roads. So, while this is an emerging technology trend to watch out for, it is not the most imminent.

Insurers will play a critical role in ensuring the success of this new technology, both for individuals and businesses, and will continue to protect them against unforeseen events. Given the potential to increase vehicle safety and change the basis of insurance from individual liability to product/vehicle designer liability, SDVs will significantly affect assessment and pricing of current and emerging risks. Specifically, insurers have a very important role to play in the dialogue about SDV liability, which needs to be resolved before SDVs can further evolve.

We will see more innovation in the next 20 years than in the last 100, with the introduction of autonomous vehicles and the connected traveler steering the future of the industry: SDV technology will evolve, rather than arrive fully formed, as assisted-driving (ADAS) technologies are adopted over time. The speed and extent of change will be influenced by regulators, insurance associations and cross-industry bodies, in addition, of course, to customer’s needs and acceptance.

At WEF, the Chinese premier Li Keqiang said that his country is moving to a “growth model driven by [both] consumption and investment,” and digitalization will be a key enabler. I believe it will also add bottom-up demand to Li’s goal of “promoting the development of private banks, financing guarantee and financial leasing” and more open markets (including in insurance!).

How to Captivate Customers (Part 4)

ITL Editor-in-Chief Paul Carroll recently hosted a webinar on “Captivating Customers With All-Channel Experiences,” featuring experts from Capgemini and Salesforce.com and the former chief customer experience officer at AIG. To view or listen to the webinar, click here. For the slides, click here

To see how important it is to provide a seamless, multi-channel experience that will captivate customers, look at our experience with a large North American property and casualty company. Revenue was falling. Too many customers were leaving. Customer service and the overall customer experience were lacking.

Antiquated systems – both those facing the customer and the back-end, legacy infrastructure – needed to be modernized.

The company began a multi-year transformation, starting with its auto insurance business unit, and then expanded to other areas. With our help, the company designed and deployed a “Quote to Card” capability across multiple channels. The solution provides real-time information by integrating internal and third-party systems. The insurer is now able to complete the “end-to-end” quoting process (build/rate/bind a quote) for both the direct-to-customer channel as well as the agent channel, in a much more efficient and elegant manner.

The insurer incorporated a rich analytics component. As a result, it can perform robust online analytics, capturing information such as time spent by a prospect on the site, analyzing when and why a prospect is abandoning the quote process, etc. The insurer can also personalize the user experience, using results from the analytics platform coupled with advanced techniques such as caching and multivariate testing.

Subsequently, the insurer added self-service capabilities for customers to conduct billing activities such as reviewing their account summary, paying bills, viewing payment history and updating personal profiles and other information.

As a result of the initiatives, the insurer is now able to create a 360-degree view of its customers across sales and service. There has been a 34% increase in customer retention and a 37% increase in customer satisfaction.

Meanwhile, costs are dropping. Average times for handling issues are dropping at call centers. Less time is needed to train agents, and their productivity is up 40%. More customers are using self-service channels. Fraud is also declining because the insurer can, for instance, see when people are trying to game the process by fiddling with numbers to get a better quote.

Additional capabilities are still being added as part of the multi-year transformation road map.

This is the fourth in a series of four articles adapted from the Capgemini white paper “Cloud-Enabled Transformation in Insurance: Accelerating the Ability to Deliver Exceptional Customer Experiences.” The other articles are here, here and here. For the full white paper, click here.