allstate customer service is trying to boost customer service by deploying an AI-powered cognitive agent named Amelia. The Northbrook-based insurance company says the technology helps call center employees by assisting with routine tasks and providing advice on how to best respond to specific customer queries. Amelia is based on the artificial intelligence (AI) platform developed by New York-based technology firm IPsoft. She has a natural-language interface and is trained in the language of insurance, enabling her to answer customer questions about their policy.
Amid a slowdown in sales, Allstate has been working to improve its customer experience and cut costs by eliminating some roles and moving others to automated channels. One example is its quoting system, which uses machine learning to calculate the cost of a policy based on customers’ driving and safety habits. It also provides real-time quotes and estimates during the buying process, eliminating the need to manually enter data by hand. This is expected to save Allstate $1.5 billion by 2022.
The company also offers a wide variety of discount programs, including the Drivewise app that gives customers a discount based on their driving behavior. Its auto policy deductible rewards program lets drivers earn a discount on their collision deductible for every year they don’t have any driving violations. And the newer car replacement feature allows Allstate to pay up to 100 percent of a vehicle’s original value in the event of a total loss, instead of just the depreciated value.
In addition, Allstate’s roadside assistance program is available as a standalone option for its auto policies or as an add-on for homeowners or renters’ coverage. The program offers customers a range of services, from changing a tire to towing their car to replacing a lost or stolen key. The company claims it’s the largest provider of roadside assistance in the United States.
But Allstate’s plans for growth appear to be backfiring. Its CEO, Tom Wilson, has been slashing agents’ commissions on renewals and pushing them to focus more on new business. But that strategy ignores a basic reality: It’s usually cheaper and easier to keep existing customers than it is to attract new ones. The company’s customer retention rate, a longtime strength, is falling. Its policy renewal rate in the first quarter was 86.7 percent, a full point lower than it was a year earlier.
If you are having trouble with your Allstate policy or feel that the company is overcharging you, you can file a complaint with your state’s department of insurance. This office is able to investigate complaints against insurance companies, as well as other types of businesses. Complaints are typically closed within 30 days of being filed with the department. Alternatively, you can contact the Better Business Bureau. This organization will forward your complaint to Allstate, which is then required to respond within 14 days. If you do not receive a response, the BBB will investigate further. The BBB has a reputation for resolving disputes between businesses and consumers.