Is there a way to talk to customers about insurance that will make enrollment easier for them?
One day, while watching a sales agent engage with a customer over the phone, I noticed that the agent had to keep stopping the customer because the customer was getting off track talking about their health. Cowed, the customer shut up and just answered the Sales Agent's questions.
Which seemed odd. How can we sell insurance to customers if they can't tell their story?
The customers have a story to tell. And all the information we need is somewhere in that story.
This customer wanted to talk about all the times they’ve been to the hospital. And each hospital visit led to them talking about their diseases, their doctors, their medications and dates. All of this was incredibly useful information but hard to manage for the Sales Agent who was following a rigid script.
Providers have products that are not designed around customer stories.
Enrollment forms, and the sales scripts agents use to fill them in, reflect that plans are structured by insurers as sets of features arranged in categories that make sense to them. When it's time to talk about drugs, you only talk about drugs and then and there you talk about all of them. When it's time to talk about doctors, you only talk about doctors and then never again. But people associate doctors not with each other but with events so they often go from one event to another talking about the drugs, doctors and dates in each. So what are central categories in an insurer's form are spread in and out of a lot of other relevant information from the customer's perspective.
This meant that the sales agent had a form in front of him that he needed to fill out. And it was laid out in a way that didn't match at all how the customer was laying out what they wanted. In short, a lot of what the customer was telling him was either irrelevant to the application, or wasn’t being delivered at the right time.
So he had to put an end to the customer led conversation. The agent, like most agents, was incredibly nice about it. But the the agent had to take total charge of how the customer gave information to him if he was going to get the enrollment forms filled out. There was no way he could trail behind the customer as they wound through their personal view of things.
What he couldn't do was jump around. He couldn't capture and hold information that was not coming at the right time in the enrollment process or might not have fit into an enrollment for but been useful to know.
I listened to them struggle with each other. As the agent interrupted the customer to get the information required to fill in the screens in front of them, the customer finally giving up telling the agent the story of their health and what they needed, and began answering the sales agent’s questions as they were being asked.
I sat in a large number of calls at the call center and saw this happen over and over again. And as the customer gave up telling their story and got in line with the game, they became less excited and less interested in the process.
I could hear them disengaging.
They did get through the agents questions though, and an application was submitted. Money was made but only once. Data showed it was doubtful the customer would remember the agent's company the next time they needed insurance.
And worse, judging from their tone of customer's voice at the end, they finished the call thinking that buying health insurance is just a very baffling and complex process that they won’t ever really understand.
What if enrolling in an insurance plan was more like having a conversation with a friend over coffee?
I imagine one person is telling a story and the other person asking questions and offering their own thoughts along the way. Wouldn't that be great?
It would make key brand attributes come to life.
We'd actually be Helpful and Friendly along with being Authoritative and Masters of The Insurance Universe, or whatever is listed in the key words for the brand.
We'd create an enduring relationship with the customer.
So I did the following.
I created an product has three interfaces or layers:
• Conversation layer
• Text Layer
• Form Layer
Through the Conversation Layer, a second agent, the Coaching Agent, would coach the Sales Agent on the phone. AI would also be listening in using sentiment analysis tools to analyze the emotions of both the sales agent and the customer. Via meters in the Conversation Layer, the agents would know when either the Customer or Sales Agent was becoming testy or excited. And the text layer would show exactly where.
The Text Layer uses natural language processing (NLP) to capture the conversation in a real-time text flow. The primary purpose is to help the coaching agent see information that might have been over-looked. The Conversation Layer and Form Layer are panels over the Text Layer which can be slid to the side for a full view of the Text Layer
The Form Layer allows the coaching agent or the sales agent to pull in information as it appears in the conversation and put it into the provider's enrollment form.
What is truly innovative in this tool is my design for the drag and drop field.
Rather than the Coaching Agent seeing a word or phraphase they want in a moving stream of words, having to highlight it and then paste it back into the relevant field, they can quickly drag the field itself over the word or phrase they want and drop it. The AI in the app will know what to grab and automatically populate the form field. This solution is not only several times faster than copying and pasting out of a text stream, but the speed at which this is done allows the Coaching Agent to quickly catch up to the conversation between the customer and the Sales Agent. You can see this working in the video below.
The tool is now moving into refinement at eHealth. Additionally the team is considering applying for a patent for my form field tool.