This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of The Record.
Earlier this year at the FinTech Ideas Festival in San Francisco, US, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained how the insurance industry is leading the way in the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) through the use of chatbots and other innovative applications.
It’s something we’re seeing more of in the industry, particularly as insurers look to improve the customer experience. In fact, when I speak with insurers, there are two main factors that are driving them to explore the potential of AI: lowering costs and delivering a customer experience that is more personalised and intuitive.
At Microsoft, we believe that the future of customer experience management lies in a cloud-first approach and involves four distinct layers: creating data lakes to analyse the vast amounts of data at our disposal today; processing that data to deliver insights around next best offer, next best action, churn prediction, fraud detection and so on; using Dynamics 365 CRM to deliver insight to agents and customer service representatives; and then using bots and intelligent devices to communicate with customers and agents in new, more efficient ways.
Already, insurers are making use of our Bot Framework to build their own bots capable of interacting naturally with customers and agents. Using this toolkit, they have everything they need to create intelligent bots that have the ability to understand natural language, and see, hear, interpret and interact in more human ways. These bots can be integrated into a range of platforms, including Skype, Slack, e-mail and the web, providing a range of services including the ability to locate and share documents internally, answer simple customer queries, handle file claims and so on.
For those who are just starting out exploring the potential of AI, we have some recommendations. First, look to build a bot internally, where the risk is low, and serves as internal purpose – dealing with employee IT issues, for example. Then start thinking about offering simple customer-facing bots, Q&A bots for example, on your company website, to help solve basic enquiries and direct them to the best resources. You can then move to more sophisticated interactions such as selling a simple insurance product.
Looking ahead, we expect to see widespread adoption of AI services within the industry and beyond. Ultimately, we can look forward to making better use of workers, freeing them up to deal with more challenging customer queries and deliver high-value services. At the same time, insurers can look forward to reducing the cost of selling basic insurance, more efficiently serving customers, understanding their needs better and more accurately predicting their future requirements.
Dennis Vanderlip is industry solutions director of Worldwide Insurance at Microsoft