Chatbots are taking on a greater role in lives today. From Facebook Messenger to Tencent’s LINE, tech experts have mentioned it as one of the top user experience trends of 2017.
Introduction on Chatbots
A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation. While being mainly designed to communicate with an actual human being, people are developing applications that allow for bots to communicate with each other. Many of these bots are programmed to achieve a specific purpose and consequently do not have many other functionalities. The prominent use of chatbots are in e-commerce customer services, Internet gaming and call centres.
As a consequence, chatbots have the unsettling potential to replace humans in various interactions. Gartner, a corporation focusing on technology research, estimates that about 60% of customer service interactions involved humans but is expected to fall to 33% by 2017.
A graph from an article written by Sumit Ghosh – CEO of Socioboard Technologies – shows how messaging apps have surpassed social networks in the number of users on its platforms. As a result, it is easier for a business to reach customers by chatbots on a messaging app than through social media. The market for chatbots to leverage on is certainly present.
We managed to secure an interview with Alberto Chierici, co-founder of insurance chatbot SPIXII. SPIXII aims to provide personalized and quick insurance consultancy services.
Read on to get insights on Alberto’s motivations behind co-founding SPIXII and his speculations for the future of chatbot usage and development.
Q: What underlies the basic idea behind a chatbot and what are its functionalities? Why did you decide to work on the chatbot industry?
My co-founder Renaud and I spent our career in the insurance industry training as UK actuaries. As a result, we gained much technical knowledge and experience related to the industry.
I migrated to data science and spent the last two years developing machine learning solutions aimed at road safety. Consequently, I gained a better understanding of car crash risk on the roads. Most importantly, I learnt how open and third-party data could easily replace many years of evidence collected by insurers and subsequently used inefficiently.
The social value of insurance convinces us to fix its problems by leveraging on our credibility and network. We can automate many insurance functions. However, there are significant inefficiencies in insurance companies and ultimately the costs fall upon the consumer.
We start automating the sales and work backward towards covering the full stack. AI is the perfect building block for making chatbots personal. People are unique and insurers should treat them as such. An insurance application form is cold and dull in comparison to chatbots. There is hence no point in repeating the same mistake.
The aim of SPIXII is to therefore create a uniquely tailored discussion with individuals. This is only possible thanks to AI helping SPIXII to learn about the preferences of each customer.
Many share the view that chatbots taken on a greater presence in our lives. It seems like we are currently losing an incredible amount of time doing things we should not do. Think about setting up a meeting with someone else. It is very time-consuming and yet there are some bots out there doing it for you.
Chatbots will save you time in ordering food, clothes, buying products. Furthermore, activities like applying for insurance policies are also covered by chatbots. They are an expression of our longing for communication between human and technology. Technology is everywhere and chatbots are hence an elegant way to make it accessible to everyone.
Q: What are the challenges in starting SPIXII?
The challenge is choosing the right people to work with us. We rejected many potential partners due to differing visions. In addition, we turned down some investors that do not match our team culture. Our team was unsure of what they could bring to the business.
Q: How does SPIXII impact the insurance industry?
Our services satisfy our customers; we have proof of that. Other impacts include driving down material costs in operating and claims-handling expenses. This will consequently improve the claims experience by encouraging the customer to display better behaviour.
Q: Will chatbots replace today’s mobile applications? What are the possible impacts on mobile app development?
Many tech experts predict chatbots replacing mobile applications. However, it is wrong to make unsubstantiated guesses.
Companies like Apple have therefore made moves to ensure that markets for chatbots and mobile applications continue to grow. Especially relevant is the case of iMessage in which chatbots can send and receive messages. The smartphone must have an application that allows for iMessage to send queries.