From providing agile customer service in insurance to enabling PROMs and PREMs in healthcare, here are some virtual assistant use cases you may not have thought about.
Virtual Assistants are generally thought of as a tool that facilitates the automation of routine tasks. Even in sectors like healthcare and insurance, the most commonly explored use cases revolve around patient engagement, customer service and facilitating information flow across multiple teams.
While these are valid use cases, there are numerous other ways in which virtual assistants can make a big difference to the services provided in healthcare, insurance and other financial services firms. Here are some of the most impactful ones.
More agile customer care in insurance firms
For insurance firms, the traditional models of servicing can involve unpredictable turnaround times. As support staff navigate multiple complex internal systems to perform authentication and extraction of information, they could face avoidable friction and find it hard to deliver consistent service levels.
Hence, many forward looking insurance companies are moving towards agile models of customer service delivery, to allow 24/7 access to information that currently require manual intervention.
Think of a simple case where a policy holder sends a query to their agent and the agent has to submit a request to the agency support team in the insurance organization. The team has to interpret the request, sometimes send a clarification email, then generate letters and respond to the agent. And there is no guarantee that the response will be immediate either, and the agent may have to wait for a few days.
Virtual assistants can be a way to simplify all of this. The agent only has to type the query in the bot interface to receive official replies instantly, which can be printed out or screenshot-captured and shared with the policy holder by email. This saves time, improves productivity for the agent (which contributes to agent retention initiatives for the insurance provider) and creates instant satisfaction for the policyholder.
A bot-first approach to insurance service delivery
And it’s not just for helping agents be more agile in their customer service. Virtual assistants can also be tasked to act as a first point of contact in the customer service workflow. For example, China Taiping insurance provides an AI virtual agent to take an entirely bot-first approach to customer service. The agent also has a strong emphasis on supporting the agency force through various means like:
Helping new insurance salespeople who often require a long training period before being productive
The AI assistant will assist them in understanding the policies, submission processes, premium calculations and other tasks, which can be very helpful for newcomers, who are building their foundation in the industry.
Providing timely updates for experienced salespeople regarding new products and schemes
The insurance industry evolves very quickly, with new products and new versions of existing products are launched often. Hence, helping them understand the changes will save them a lot of time in navigating the updates.
Supporting sales people in prospect objection handling
It is commonplace for insurance salespeople to face rejections, and this can sometimes stump the most experienced salesperson. The company can upload product objections and general sales objection handling verses which the sales people can use to educate prospects, minimize rejections and drive conversions.
Improving discoverability and user experience in researching policies
Virtual assistants can also play a key role well before customer service, in the research and consideration stage. During the research stage especially, one often encounters a lot of product information. If they get confused or overwhelmed, they may be hesitant to make a purchase. They could also pick the wrong product and face hefty costs to undo the purchase or don’t see the urgency and procrastinate.
Insurance aggregators have tried to simplify this process but there is still quite a lot of information that a new customer has to go through. This not only makes the entire experience of researching products before purchase a more convenient one for the user but it also allows the insurance products to be discovered more effectively as well. When it becomes easy for the user to find and pick the product in a seamless experience, it helps providers ensure that the sale is not lost to prospect inaction.
Adding more transactional features to the virtual assistant can also take this one step further. For example, it can include a functionality to recommend products and complete the purchase by directing the user to payment, all within the bot.
The same use case could also be applied for financial services and insurance firms looking to enable self-service options for customers on their website. For firms with a number of tools, apps and platforms already in action, making massive changes and integrations to the legacy systems can be a nightmare. A simpler option would be to use a virtual assistant to allow the user to pull all the information together for easy access. All the user has to do is enter queries in the chat interface and the bot will take care of traversing all the assets and highlighting what is important to them.
Helping patients make decisions in the pre-admission stage
Virtual assistants can also be used to make a patient feel at ease before they come down to a hospital or clinic. Think of extreme cases where a patient is considering an elective procedure. If they can be assured that their waiting times at the hospital will be minimal, and that all safety practices are followed, especially post-COVID, they can be encouraged to not delay their procedures. They may also prioritize hospitals with strong digital support services as a proxy for trust and safety for providing touch free experiences.This way, virtual assistants come into play in the pre-admission and pre-planning stage.
Similarly, virtual assistants can be used as a tool to ensure that essential requirements and guidelines are met before a surgery. So often when someone schedules a surgery or even a medical test, they have to make sure they fulfil certain conditions like avoiding food and drinks in the morning or declaring travel history and health surveys to ensure there is no fever and so on. Virtual Assistants can be used to check in with patients to confirm that these criteria have been met before they turn up for the surgery so that the hospital resources are utilized properly.
Allowing hospitals to provide more efficient, lower risk customer service
Even before COVID, there was a shift away from physical counters towards virtual consultations. But when the lockdowns hit, many hospitals were forced to shut down their physical counters to offer more convenient ways of helping patients. And even though the lockdowns are lifting and regular activities are resuming, there is still quite a bit of uncertainty and concerns around safety in hospitals.
Healthcare organizations can learn from what some financial institutions are doing to provide virtual services. DBS in Singapore for example, has introduced video banking services, with video banking booths in branches in lieu of a physical counter. In fact, some healthcare providers are already seeing the benefits of such virtual customer service. KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital offers a virtual assistant and live chat service that supports caregivers for pediatric patients.
Similarly, to address these ongoing concerns, hospitals can look to ramp up their virtual consultation services. By integrating with virtual consultation apps and platforms, virtual assistants can allow patients to be diagnosed remotely and determine if their condition is serious enough for an in-person visit to the emergency. This helps the hospital optimize the workload of emergency teams and helps in the right siting of low risk patients.
It also allows hospitals to consolidate manpower and centralize services in their contact and service centres. For example, virtual assistants can be used to allow patients to generate their medical reports and carry out their financial and admin related tasks. This is especially critical in times of COVID and when contact centres and support services are stretched for manpower, and may have to shift to flexible remote servicing in a moment’s notice.
Enabling PROMs and PREMs post-treatment
There are situations when even after a patient receives their treatment and returns home, they relapse or experience side effects and have to be readmitted to the hospital. This is not only inconvenient for the patients but can add to the workload of the hospital’s nurses and clinicians. For example, elderly patients suffering from chronic illnesses or who have received treatment and are recovering may not be able to get access to a care information easily.
This is where virtual assistants can help by providing continuous care for them by sending regular notifications and reminders about medications, instructions for taking pills and collecting their reported measures of pain, symptoms, health status and more. This way, hospitals can use virtual assistants to collect Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) and Patient Reported Experience Measures to provide integrated care post-operations and simultaneously ensure that patients remain in good health and that hospital resources are utilized effectively.
To discover more such ways in which virtual assistants can help your organization keep your team and your customers happy, request a free demo.