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January 27, 2017updated 05 Apr 2017 8:40am

How speech technology could improve insurers’ customer service

Danielle Cripps, an analyst in the general insurance team at Verdict Financial, explains why the use of speech technology and artificial intelligence (AI) could help insurance providers improve call-centre services and potentially lead to more positive customer experiences and higher retention rates.

By Danielle Cripps

Danielle Cripps, an analyst in the general insurance team at Verdict Financial, explains why the use of speech technology and artificial intelligence (AI) could help insurance providers improve call-centre services and potentially lead to more positive customer experiences and higher retention rates.

Providing high-quality customer service is important, as a positive customer experience is critical to building a good brand reputation and retaining customers at renewal. Consumers pick up the phone when they want customer service. This can include wanting guidance and advice when purchasing, support through the claims process, or even to make a complaint.

Nearly a third (31.5%) of personal lines insurance customers (calculated as a total of motor, combined home, travel, cat and dog insurance) purchased their policy over the phone according to Verdict Financial’s 2016 UK General Insurance Consumer Survey.

This is a notable proportion of customers who therefore want interaction with a company representative.

Cogito is a company that is utilizing speech technology and AI in order to analyse customer calls and give company representatives feedback on how to make the conversation more productive in real-time.

Customer retention

Launched in 2007 and based in the US, Cogito is helping companies to improve their service and retain more customers.

Cogito’s voice-analytics software tracks in real-time the voice and speech patterns of both customers and call-centre agents.

It measures variation in pitch, the rate of speech, conversation flow, pauses, voice tension, and interruptions, in addition to whether the conversation is one-sided. The software analyses speech in order to provide call-center employees with a dashboard which shows how the conversation is going.

Being able to assess the customer’s mood using emotional intelligence allows the agent to better engage the client during the conversation.

Within insurance, direct providers and brokers have the greatest potential to adopt this technology. This is not only to aid customers who are calling to purchase insurance, but also to provide support through the claims process.

Speech technology and AI have become hot topics in technology in 2017. Amazon Echo, for instance, is a voice-controlled intelligent home device.

The capacity of the combined role of this technology is something that all companies providing a service through call centers could make use of. Providing better customer service can only be a win-win solution for providers and customers alike.

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