It started with Interactive Voice Response (IVR), and is getting more digital. Self-serve, automation and omni-channel strategies abound in insurance contact centres worldwide.
Organisations seem to believe what customers want and need is for them to always be ‘on’, available and accessible. But do we?
In a world where being human is increasingly under-valued, I am starting to wonder how real people fit into this business view.
My thoughts? Well, I love humans and the personal exchanges I have every day with people. Show me an AI system that can create a customer experience that feels great or an IVR conversation with real empathy that can successfully negotiate win-win outcomes. Give me all this and I will gladly embrace all that automation has to offer.
I have yet to experience any kind of self-serve, automation or system that can replicate the most important thing I want as a customer…having a human conversation! Yes, we all want it to be easy, yes, we all want you to get it right and yes, we might want to be able to do that outside of typical office hours…but surely not to the detriment of our experience?
The ABI reports that £46m is paid out in personal lines insurance claims A DAY in the UK… a bit of a holy shit moment for me!
I wondered about the impact of those claims being handled through an automated system – a DIY claims handling process, fully digitised and potentially much swifter than when people get involved…and then I thought about the human beings who have been affected by a personal situation behind their claim.
There are countless scenarios…. A pet dying, a home being flooded, burgled, burned to the ground…a stranded family after a ‘force majeure’ event, the 17 year old new driver who had their first car accident or the human who can’t pay her mortgage, the man with a severe illness needing immediate medical help. Would we really want to be serving these claims through an automated system when people are potentially at their most vulnerable?
How can AI systems address the emotion, the impact on the human being of these, sometimes, catastrophic events?
Is it not preferable to have someone there to listen, to empathise, let the customer know they were safe in our hands and provide reassurance that the practicalities were taken care of?
Right now the answer for me is yes. To my mind, there is no replacement for having real people creating truly human experiences at the front-line of our businesses.
I would be really interested to hear your views on whether AI will reach a level that it will replace these human interactions, or if we will realise that some of our human encounters are far more complex.
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