Why agents shouldn’t fear chatbots

You can’t be available 24 hours a day for your clients, says expert, but this tool can

Why agents shouldn’t fear chatbots


By Alicja Grzadkowska

Brokers and agents have nothing to fear from artificial intelligence – according to Accenture, the combination of AI and human ingenuity will help brokers solve complex challenges, develop new products and services, and break into or create new markets.

In fact, the company reported that 79% of insurance executives agree that AI will revolutionize the way they interact with customers. Any worries about technology replacing brokers is thus unfounded, especially when it comes to the application of AI in chatbots.

“That’s not what technology is ever supposed to do. Technology is supposed to supplement employees in their roles, so whenever people fear chatbots and AI, they think that there’s going to be a system that will replace them. In reality, it’s supporting them,” said Laird Rixford, CEO at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC).

“You can’t be available to talk 24 hours a day, but a chatbot can – you can’t be available while you’re having a lunch meeting; you can’t be available while you’re talking to an existing client; you can’t be available when you’re selling to a new client. Those are all opportunities where a chatbot can help you, but in the end, it still requires an agent to be involved.”

Consumers today, added Rixford, like using technology, yet when they’re ready to buy insurance, they more often than not prefer to speak directly with an agent or broker.

The chatbots available on the market right now are also much better than those that were available to agencies a few years ago.

“They’re able to be more and more efficient, and allow the agents to focus more on the selling portion, instead of the pre-sale where you’re actually asking questions – is this the right fit, and what coverages do I need? All that can be driven by the chatbot,” explained Rixford.

An effective chatbot will integrate with an agency’s existing systems, and will offer insights on multiple disparate systems, such as rating platforms, marketing platforms, and agency management platforms. On the other hand, a chatbot that goes into an agency ‘blind’ will know nothing about the end consumer, and won’t offer the agency the same benefits.

If an insurance agency wants to capitalize on chatbot technology, Rixford recommends they avoid a few key landmines.

“They need to first understand, does their agency need a chatbot. With some chatbots, whenever you get into complex commercial or complex types of insurance, their maturity is not there and they effectively are just an inefficient contact form,” he told Insurance Business. “It’s much easier for someone to go to a website, fill in a name, number, email address, and their product interest than it is to have a text message conversation with the chatbot. That’s one area where chatbots are not effective for agencies – whenever they’re not mature in the lines of businesses that the agency sells.”

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