Insurance Brands Need More Than an Alexa Skill to Seize the Voice AI Opportunity
Voice-controlled AI is no longer a novelty. In the past year, smart speakers have become the fastest-growing category of consumer tech and a mainstream way for people to interact with brands.
Brands in fast-digitizing industries like insurance recognize this behavioral shift as an opportunity. They are expanding their marketing initiatives to a new channel and giving customers much-needed information precisely when they want it.
A long list of insurance companies, including Liberty Mutual, Cigna and Prudential, are investing in Alexa “skills” (voice apps) that help customers shop for coverage, understand their benefits, compare quotes and access information about their products and policies. For now, these voice-activated AI capabilities are relatively limited. In the future, insurers’ voice skills might collect information about claims or guide a new customer through an onboarding process. This automation would allow agents to uplevel their roles, spending more time helping customers solve complicated problems and close more deals.
In the near- to mid-term, voice apps will be used primarily to automate simple interactions. Gartner predicts that 30 percent of online browsing will take place without a screen by 2020. And Google estimates that by the same year, more than half of searches will happen by voice.
The challenge for executives is to rethink their digital strategies for consumers who are querying and communicating with voice-activated devices in addition to typing, swiping and tapping on screens. I’d advise insurance brands to develop voice experiences that account for this reality: voice assistants can automate simple interactions, while human conversations will remain critical to building trust with consumers, resolving complex issues and closing high-stakes deals.
For considered purchases like insurance policies — which are expensive, intricate, and highly personal products and services — consumers want to talk to a human after they research and compare options. And these conversations are highly valuable. When customers pick up the phone after researching online, they’re often ready to buy, and that’s why these conversations drive more than $1 trillion in sales in the U.S. alone.
The untapped opportunity for insurers is to connect voice and other digital initiatives with the rest of their marketing efforts rather than treating them as siloed experiments. Seizing this opportunity requires that companies have access to accurate, actionable and timely data that allows them to deliver an optimal experience no matter how a prospect or customer chooses to communicate with their brand.
A holistic voice strategy involves recognizing the strengths and limitations of AI: voice apps will supplement rather than replace one-on-one conversations between customers and agents, making it easy for customers to seamlessly move from speaking to a voice assistant to an agent. It also involves leveraging voice as a rich source of data and using these insights to optimize other digital investments, personalize customer experiences, improve conversions and drive revenue. The integration between Invoca and Adobe Experience Cloud makes it possible for marketers to bring call attribution and analytics into Adobe to measure complete marketing ROI, lower acquisition costs, and drive more revenue. Specifically, pulling Invoca data like whether a product was mentioned or a purchase was made during a phone call into Adobe Analytics helps marketers achieve the following:
- Route phone calls to appropriate sales agent based on which website landing page they called from
- Retarget consumers who converted over the phone with upsell ads
- Customize the landing page to show product mentioned on the phone call
We’ve entered a new era of customer communication. Insurance companies, in particular, have a great deal to gain from creating digital experiences that account for today’s reality: people are using their voices to communicate with brands both through voice assistants and conversations with agents, who are in the business of relationship-building. Conversations between people are central to building trust and emotional connection. Voice-controlled AI is not quite there, and I don’t know if it ever will be. So, while it’s smart for brands to experiment with and invest in voice experiences, they must be ready to pick up the conversation where voice assistants leave off.