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Chatbots: The next innovation in group benefits

You may or may not have heard of a ‘chatbot‘, but it will most definitely be a topic of discussion at future group benefits conferences in Canada in 2017.

A chatbot is a rising trend, at the intersection of the hottest topics right now in tech: artificial intelligence, messenger apps, the mobile wave, and of course…teens. It can be likened to an artificial concierge, like a Siri or Alexa, but embedded within the messenger application.

 

For example, you might open up the Kik bot store, add the Sephora chatbot, and ask it about beauty tips or to find you the best eyeliner. The Sephora chatbot script returns to you the answers, customized to you, and delivered in a human-like fashion…as if you are chatting with a human. Except that you’re chatting with a ‘robot’.

(Throughout researching this post, I stumbled across a ‘chatbot girlfriend’ and shed a single tear for humanity).

It is estimated that teens spend 80% of the time on mobile devices on chat applications, such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, Whatsapp, iMessage, and beyond. Most marketers know that many mobile trends start with teens, then the 20s, and then the mainstream usually follows.

Rick Huckstep has published an excellent summary of the chatbot trend in insurance at The Digital Insurer. Insurance companies who have joined in on this trend include:

Chatbots & Points

The applications are endless: the Kik platform allows users to earn or buy Kik Points which can be redeemed for items like unique emojis, enter contests with chatbots to win prizes, and more. I can envision a future where a group benefits carrier awards plan members points for various items:

  • 100 kik points for filling out a wellness quiz
  • 200 kik points for reviewing the provider online
  • 1000 kik points for applying for a home & auto insurance quote
  • 2000 kik points for downloading their mobile app to submit claims

Is it also possible to reward benefit plan administrators or sponsors?

  • 100 points for signing up for the monthly newsletter
  • 1000 points for completing a quiz on benefit plan legalities
  • 1000 points for attending an HR seminar (like ours coming up this November 2016)
  • 10,000 points for referring another employer to the group benefits provider

Points aside, I can also see a group benefits chatbot for plan members, and a separate one for plan administrators. The group benefits plan member chatbot would reply to questions such as:

  • What is my coverage for orthotics?
  • How much do I have left for dental this year?
  • How much would optional life insurance cost me?
  • Was my massage claim paid yet?

The benefits plan administrator chatbot may answer questions such as:

  • What to do if an employee goes on sick leave?
  • How long do I extend benefits in a termination?
  • How much would it cost us to add group Critical Illness?

…maybe the last one is a stretch, but the Canadian group benefits industry should be prepared. It’s really a simple FAQ page, but ported over into a chatbot script.

We’ll explore all of these at the next Beneplan HR Benefits & Law Workshop this November 2016. Sign up for our newsletter to receive an invitation: