Will the bots be there when you need them?

Man yelling at red phone

I’ve been reflecting on a tweet published by Lemonade Insurance Company that claimed, “it’s 2018, people would rather talk to a bot than a broker.”

It is a bold (and silly) claim.

My first thought was that this must’ve been written by an out-of-touch computer programmer.

Has the author of that tweet ever been stuck in a “command not recognized” loop when attempting to perform a customer service task using a chatbot or phone bot?

Is Lemonade suggesting that people actually like walking around yelling “representative” into their phone to get some help?

If people would rather talk to a bot, why do these same corporations still employ people to answer their phones when situations escalate?

In their current technological state, bots are incredibly frustrating to deal with.

Admit it, we all push “0” as quickly as possible when we have something we need to explain to another human.

Technology is great, but it can’t replace humans

Artificial intelligence, bots and general technological advancements are awesome for routine, non-consequential transactions.

They make our lives better and safer in so many ways.

However, they cannot replace some human interactions and consequential engagements in a risk management relationship.

Bots aren’t advocates. They are computer-programmed algorithms that only know black and white, zeroes and ones. They are only as strong as the programmer who creates them.

Bots treat you and your unique needs like everyone else that fits a specific profile in its algorithm. Bots use numbers instead of names.

I am not suggesting technology does not have a role in risk advising and management.

It certainly does with routine tasks like compiling underwriting data and aggregating claims information.

It can help us become a safer society and empower agents and consumers to become better informed when managing risk.

It is not, however, the foundation of all that is good in a modern society.

Independent insurance agents offer trusted, professional advice to help protect society’s most valuable assets.

Independent insurance agents are your local advocates when you have a problem. They have your back.

Independent insurance agents are neighbors caring for neighbors.

Independent insurance agents are humans who invest in their local communities.

The independent agency system employs tens of thousands of people in Ohio and is an important component of our state’s economy.

They are invested in their local communities, unlike distant companies that function solely through faceless 800-numbers, and spend millions on advertising and trademarking cartoon characters.

The next time you are thinking about replacing your trusted, professional risk advisor with a nameless, faceless bot on the East Coast, ask yourself:

  • Who will be there in your time of need?

  • How many local events did the bot attend?

  • Do they live in your neighborhood and care if it’s restored after a disaster?

  • Do they even know (or care about) your name?

Most importantly, ask if the bot will be there to stand by your side and tell you it will all be ok while your house is burning down, business is flooded, or car is totaled.

The truth is that while technology has a lot of shiny, distracting appeal, it can never replace a hand on your shoulder to comfort or one to pull you up when you’re down.

As true as the sun will rise and set each day, you can count on your independent agent to be there in good times, bad times and everything in between.

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