How to set up a chatbot on your brokerage’s website

Brokers looking to set up a chatbot on their site should know the core business purpose of the chatbot and how to manage customer expectations, Mitchell & Whale Insurance Brokers said recently.

“Do you want it to answer common customer questions, collect data, screen prospects or quote new business?” asked Amanda Ketelaars, operations manager at Mitchell & Whale. “Knowing your objectives will enable you to select the chatbot tools and options right for you to build and optimize your chatbot and drive your required outcomes.”

Most agencies have between 20 and 30 questions everyone asks, added Jeff Roy, president and CEO of brokerage Excalibur Insurance, which has a chatbot on their website. “Find a chatbot that answers your FAQ questions.”

Another consideration is: Who is going to manage customer expectations when a chatbot is not able to complete the transaction? Like humans, chatbots are continuously learning, but they’ll need training and teaching as well, said Ketelaars, whose company’s website featured a chatbot up until one year ago.

“You’ll need to ensure you have someone to manage the learning, as well as take over when the chatbot can’t answer the questions,” she said. “You want to ensure a great customer experience and there is nothing worse than getting caught in the loop with the chatbot and not having a human there to pull the customer out of the loop.”

One of the most frustrating things for customers is to experience a bot that sounds like a bot, said Chris Gory, president of Insurance Portfolio Financial Services, an employee benefits firm for start-ups. “When you work on the scripts for the bots, see if the answers can be in everyday English.” That being said, potential clients need to know it’s a bot they are talking to and not a live person (at least, not a live person at first).

There needs to be an option in the bot to pass off conversations to live people. “As much as you try to plan for every single situation, inevitably there are going to be situations where a live person needs to provide some answers.”

A chatbot is just like a good company website: you don’t just post content and leave it there, never updating it, Gory said. “A chatbot is the same way. You always want to be updating it, adding new features, new answers, etc. It’s best to review the chatbot logs on a weekly or monthly basis to see what kind of questions the bot has been asked, and what it couldn’t answer.”

Roy has reported about three to five people out of every 100 use Excalibur’s chat function, meaning if there are 500 website visitors, between 15 and 25 conversations will use the chatbot. “You need to know how much traffic your website is getting,” he said. “If you’re only getting 500 visitors per month, you do not have the budget.”

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