Author Archives: Basant Baruah

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Basant Baruah is our Senior Marketing Communications Executive who brings the best of both worlds: flair for content writing and skills in the technical aspects of content marketing. He has crafted content in both B2B and B2C domains. He loves a discussion on Technology, Marketing, and Football - in no particular order.
Airline

Loyalty: A powerful medium to increase the stickiness of airline customers

Adding personal touches to the flight experience, such as priority boarding, customized menus, and prompt services, can create a memorable journey. Loyalty programs are essential to increase the stickiness of airline customers and maintain a brand’s customer base.

Studies emphasize the value of loyalty programs, with returning customers spending 67% more than new customers. Additionally, personalization can increase revenue by 15% for services offered. These statistics highlight the importance of a strong airline loyalty program. For instance, a Middle Eastern carrier was ready to invest millions in acquiring the loyalty program of an India-based airline without purchasing the entire airline.

The evolution of loyalty programs for airlines 

Airline loyalty programs have evolved beyond traditional perks like complimentary services and upgrades. They currently emphasize personalization, aiming at specific customer groups and offering cross-industry experiences customized to individual preferences. They use extensive customer data for targeted marketing and curated loyalty offerings that resonate with many travelers. 

Airlines are adopting interoperability, which allows different systems and loyalty programs to work together and share data, expanding their loyalty programs. Partnering with banks, credit card providers, and entertainment companies enables them to collect valuable customer data. This data-driven approach enhances program value, encourages traveler engagement, and boosts loyalty and profitability. 

Evolution of Airlines Loyalty Program

Ways to build interoperability: Strategies and Methods 

Organizations within and outside the airline industry can achieve interoperability to facilitate operations across multiple geographies. Here are some ways to establish interoperability: 

1. Strategic alliances:  

  • Airlines should establish partnerships with others to expand their loyalty programs.  
  • For instance, Star Alliance, with Air India, United Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air China, South African Airways, Air New Zealand, and 17 more, personalizes experiences for global travelers. 

2. Add-on benefits: 

  • Airlines should build ecosystems that extend beyond flights, offering services like visas, entertainment experiences, airport pick-up, and hotel drop-off. 
  • For instance, Etihad Airways offers exclusive packages for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, and Qatar Airways sponsors multiple sports events with exclusive offers for loyalty program members. 

3. Unified platform: 

  • Airlines should develop a common platform or app that allows customers to access all services and products seamlessly to increase the stickiness of airline customers.  
  • The approach meets the needs of travelers who value speed and convenience in their travel experience, with interoperability as the key to unlocking numerous opportunities. 

Morphing loyalty programs into a universal currency 

The benefits of loyalty programs are clear, and when it becomes a universal currency, it has a significant impact. Instead of creating separate points programs, airlines form alliances with businesses across diverse industries. This process expands the loyalty program’s benefits to a broader range of partners, such as banks, retailers, hotels, and cab operators, all within the same alliance.   

For instance, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program lets customers earn loyalty points from the airline and various retail partners. These partners include top brands like Sephora, Adidas, FedEx, Disney, and Jimmy Choo. Partners can use the loyalty platform to promote and advertise their products/services. 

The airline enjoys an enhanced brand image and gains free word-of-mouth advertising on social media. This program extends beyond flight services to other aspects of the overall experience. It also increases engagement, where customers open the app at least once daily to track activities and services.  

Morphing loyalty programs into a universal currency

Listed below are a few recommended practices where loyalty points can become universal currency: 

  1. Making the ecosystem interoperable: 
  • Interoperability helps airlines invest wisely in loyalty programs and gather valuable customer data to execute targeted marketing campaigns and audience segmentation.   
  • Customers can use their loyalty program points as ‘miles’ across the ecosystem, creating a seamless and effective user experience.  
  • Interoperability grants airlines access to a rich database of marketing insights from alliance partners, helping in customer acquisition and retention strategies. 
  1. Customer engagement:
  • Achieving success in loyalty programs hinges on creating memorable, emotional customer experiences. 
  • For instance, Delta Airlines utilizes universal currency by implementing a shared loyalty program within its partner ecosystem. 
  • Delta Airlines employs a biometric system and automated security screening to provide efficient access to Sky Club for members who’ve submitted biometric data. 
  • Delta’s Sky Club members with Clear memberships enjoy a better and hassle-free experience, accessing the locations using their fingerprints. 
  1. Mobility-as-a-service:
  • Mobility-as-a-service is a strategy to transform loyalty points into universal currency, making them usable across multiple services. 
  • For example, the Kotak Indigo 6E Rewards credit card provides perks like add-ons, seat preferences, in-flight meals, lounge access, and discounted convenience fees. 
  • Airlines can leverage these credit cards to tailor discounts and offers on gym memberships based on individual customer profiles. 
  • The alliance partner ecosystem can utilize these customized offers within the shared database. 

Discover our in-depth case study on Akasa Air here and learn about our innovative Digital solutions.

Mobility-as-a-service: a forward-looking value proposition to increase the stickiness of airline customers

Loyalty programs are undeniably becoming vital in helping airlines expand their wallet share. For instance, customers typically spend more on their trips than just tickets. Yet, through the loyalty program and seamless interoperability, customers now perceive the airline as their comprehensive solution. 

Creating partnership ecosystems in travel enables airlines to increase customer revenue while enhancing their overall experience with added value, convenience, and comfort. Mobility-as-a-service offers numerous benefits, including: 

  • Hassle-free, end-to-end convenience: It caters to customers’ egos and emotional satisfaction, increasing the likelihood of retaining them with the same airline. 
  • Comprehensive services: From doorstep services to chauffeur and concierge services, it offers the utmost convenience. 
  • Acceptance of premium services: In the current scenario, crafting personalized loyalty programs and providing an all-in-one solution is highly effective, with speed and convenience taking priority over costs.  
  • Win-win arrangement: A mutually beneficial arrangement benefits program not only the airline’s loyal customers but also those of its partners, fostering opportunities for valuable partnerships. 
  • Enhanced Brand Visibility: When customers share their travel experiences on social media, it attracts more attention, expands brand visibility, and brings in new customers through positive recommendations. 

These trends are indicative of the future of airline loyalty programs. A technology partner like Robosoft can enable airlines of all sizes with the technology capabilities required at the backend to develop these platforms and open access to data and intelligence. Airlines can then focus on loyalty strategies for high-value customers and leverage customer relationships and alliances to increase profitability.  

 

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Banking

Green Deposits: Propelling Responsible Investing in India

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impact is a theme that has already gained momentum across the globe. The term “ESG” is believed to have been first coined in 2005 in a study titled “Who Cares Wins.” However, eighteen years have passed since then, and ESG has now become a vital corporate discipline and a significant agenda across various global discussions, encompassing politics, business, and climate change.

Responsible investing, in simple terms, entails integrating environmental, social, and governance factors into investment processes and decision-making. Green Deposits are a way to mobilize money from public and institutions to specifically invest that money towards sustainability project.

According to a report published by Forbes, “ESG factors cover a wide spectrum of issues that traditionally are not part of financial analysis, yet they may have financial relevance. This could include evaluating how corporations respond to climate change, their proficiency in water management, the effectiveness of their health and safety policies in preventing accidents, supply chain management practices, the treatment of workers, and the existence of a corporate culture that fosters trust and innovation.”

RBI’s Initiatives for Green Finance and Banks’ Role in Sustainability Efforts

As ESG permeates all aspects of business, banks are emerging as driving forces in sustainability efforts. The financial services sector plays a pivotal role in mobilizing national resources and managing their allocation. The banking industry in India, including non-banking financial services companies, has positively impacted the country’s socio-economic progress. However, for India to achieve its net-zero target by 2070, the banking industry needs to take on a more central role in leading the ecosystem towards sustainability.

Recognizing the industry’s significance, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has established regulatory guardrails and frameworks to promote the raising and deployment of green finance in the domestic market. This move allows banks and other deposit-accepting NBFCs to enhance their fundraising abilities and build a corpus of green funds dedicated to environment-friendly and sustainability-linked products. Consequently, businesses can gain easier access to green loans, ideally at better rates and with more favorable conditions, to finance their journey towards sustainable growth.

Effective June 1, 2023, retail and institutional investors have access to green deposits. As per the RBI, a “green deposit” refers to an interest-bearing deposit received by a Regulated Entity (RE) for a fixed period, with the proceeds earmarked for allocation towards green finance. The RBI mandates regulated entities to establish a comprehensive board-approved policy on green deposits, outlining in detail all aspects related to issuing and allocating such deposits.

Utilization of Green Deposits Funds: Supported Sectors and Projects

In its circular dated April 11, 2023, the RBI stipulates how regulated entities should use the proceeds from green deposits or green finance. The current provisions within the framework allow the utilization of green deposits funds in the following sectors:

Green deposits: What, Why & How1. Renewable Energy:

  • Solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower energy projects that integrate energy generation and storage.
  • Incentivizing the adoption of renewable energy.

2. Energy Efficiency:

  • Design and construction of energy-efficient and energy-saving systems and installations in buildings and properties.
  • Supporting lighting improvements.
  • Supporting the construction of new low-carbon buildings and energy-efficient retrofits for existing buildings.
  • Projects to reduce electricity grid losses.

3. Clean Transportation:

  • Green Projects promoting the electrification of transportation.
  • Adoption of clean fuels, such as electric vehicles, including the building of charging infrastructure.

4. Climate Change Adaptation:

  • Projects aimed at making infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

5. Sustainable Water and Waste Management:

  • Promoting water-efficient irrigation systems.
  • Installation and upgrading of wastewater infrastructure, including transport, treatment, and disposal systems.
  • Flood defense systems.

6. Pollution Prevention and Control:

  • Green projects targeting the reduction of air emissions, greenhouse gas control, soil remediation, waste management, waste prevention, waste recycling, and energy/emission-efficient waste-to-energy.

7. Green Buildings:

  • Projects related to buildings that meet regional, national, or internationally recognized standards or certifications for environmental performance.

8. Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources and Land Use:

  • Environmentally sustainable management of agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, and aquaculture.
  • Sustainable forestry management, including afforestation/reforestation.
  • Support for certified organic farming.
  • Research on living resources and biodiversity protection.

9. Terrestrial and Aquatic Biodiversity Conservation:

  • Projects related to coastal and marine environments.
  • Projects related to biodiversity preservation, including the conservation of endangered species, habitats, and ecosystems.

The Green Finance Ecosystem (GFS)

With a view to drive a green finance ecosystem (GFS), the RBI framework aims to supports and enable investments in environmentally sustainable projects and initiatives. The GFS aims to create a financial system that supports the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient, and sustainable economy, while also addressing the risks and opportunities associated with environmental issues such as climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. As per RBI’s circular, the purpose or rationale behind the green deposits framework is, “To encourage regulated entities (REs) to offer green deposits to customers, protect interest of the depositor, aid customers to achieve their sustainability agenda, address greenwashing concerns and help augment the flow of credit to green activities or projects.”

Green deposits: Road ahead for Regulated Entities

This new framework may seem extremely opportune given India’s strong narrative around the ‘Make in India’ campaign and its commitment to be net zero by 2070. This move lends tremendous credibility to India’s aspiration to be seen as a responsible, sustainable and a global economic power. It reflects India’s commitment, at a policy level, to address the growing global issues concerning ESG impact. Commitment with a follow up action like this will go a long way in positioning India is a global partner of choice across manufacturing, research, and bilateral trade. Considering the possibilities that it opens; the RBI’s green deposits framework has clearly given India another ‘India Shining’ moment after the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) initiatives.

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Insurance

AI in Insurance: Enhancing Efficiency and Accuracy

In today’s age of remarkable technological progress, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a transformative force in numerous industries, revolutionizing the way they operate. Among the many sectors experiencing its transformative power, the insurance industry stands out as a prime beneficiary.

With the ability to enhance efficiency and accuracy in ways previously unimaginable, AI is reshaping the landscape of insurance operations, from underwriting and claims processing to risk assessment and customer service.

The global AI in insurance market size was valued at USD 6.92 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.08% from 2022 to 2028. A recent survey found that 21% of insurance organizations are preparing their workforce for collaborative, interactive, and explainable AI-based systems. It is also predicted that investment in AI insurance will be ranked high on the agenda of decision-makers.

AI is transforming the insurance industry by automating tasks, analyzing data, and enhancing decision-making. This leads to improved efficiency, accuracy, and customer service, which drives customer satisfaction and boosts profitability.

How is AI Changing the Insurance Game

#1 Tackling the claims problem

a) Accelerated claims processing

In today’s digital era, insurance companies have streamlined the claims process through convenient methods like smartphones and web portals. AI-powered bots guide customers, verify policy details, detect fraud, and expedite settlement for prompt resolution.

Insurance companies are using new technologies to accelerate claims processing and improve the customer experience:

  • AI-powered chatbots can be used to automate and streamline the claims processing process, which can help reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction.
  • AI-driven touchless insurance claim processes can automate the entire claims process. This includes reporting the claim, updating the system, and communicating with the customer.
  • Document capture technologies and optical character recognition can efficiently extract text from scanned documents.
  • AI-based handwriting recognition software can now process handwritten documents at a speed and accuracy that far exceed human capabilities.
  • Automated processes are now being used to handle many aspects of claims processing, from routing claims to approving them.

b) Claims reserve optimization

AI plays a pivotal role in the digital trends insurance industry in claims reserve optimization by leveraging data analytics to enhance accuracy, efficiency, and decision-making. It analyzes historical claims data, identifies patterns, and predicts risks, enabling more precise allocation of reserves while reducing errors and administrative burdens.

The benefits of AI-based insurance solutions for claim reserve optimization:

  • Real-Time Claims Estimation: AI and ML technology streamlines the process of analyzing claims data, saving significant time that is typically spent on data preparation. This enables insurers to estimate claims more efficiently and accurately.
  • Early Fraud Detection: AI-powered solutions can identify fraudulent activities in insurance claims, reducing the need for manual effort and intensive claim processes. By detecting fraud early on, insurers can prevent delayed claims and improve the overall efficiency of claim processing.
  • Enhanced Safety in Hazardous Locations: Leveraging AI in insurance helps assess damages in hazardous locations while minimizing safety risks for claims inspectors. This technology aids in identifying potential dangers and ensures that compensation claims are accurate and fair.

c) Claim fraud detection and prevention

AI plays a crucial role in the identification and prevention of fraudulent insurance claims, thereby enabling insurers to establish a streamlined and effective system for managing claims. By swiftly analyzing vast amounts of data, insurance AI algorithms can identify patterns and detect anomalies that deviate from these patterns.

AI in insurance is revolutionizing fraudulent claim detection and prevention through the following methods:

  • Big fraud schemes: AI technology allows insurance companies to cross-reference and analyze data points from internal and external databases, simplifying the detection of fraudulent activities.
  • Fraud patterns: AI integration in insurance streamlines fraud detection by identifying patterns. For example, when a claim for a stolen smartphone is filed, AI can quickly search databases for prior suspicious activity, raising a red flag for further investigation.

By leveraging AI, insurance companies can improve their ability to detect and prevent fraudulent claims, safeguarding the interests of policyholders and the industry as a whole.

AI solving Insurance claims problems

#2 Customer Service and Retention

a) Prediction of customer churn

The insurance industry has higher customer acquisition costs than many other sectors. Retaining existing customers proves to be a more cost-effective approach. Insurance companies are now leveraging AI-based solutions for churn prediction, enabling them to anticipate when customers are likely to churn and proactively implement measures to retain them.

Through the utilization of AI and Machine Learning algorithms, key indicators such as shifts in app usage and rewards program engagement, alterations in the frequency of customer support interactions, fluctuations in income, or changes in life circumstances can be identified. Furthermore, these algorithms can also forecast employee attrition by monitoring changes in work patterns and gauging employee satisfaction.

Consequently, this approach presents a mutually beneficial solution for insurance companies and their customers.

b) Deliver efficient customer support

Insurance companies are increasingly adopting chatbots to improve customer service by reducing response time and thus saving costs. These AI-powered solutions enhance team productivity by quickly resolving simple queries, allowing more focus on complex issues. Implementing virtual agents (chatbots) and personalized interactive videos enables 24/7, multi-channel customer service, positively impacting online experience, loyalty, brand reputation, and revenue generation.

AI in insurance enhances customer service in the following ways:

  • Resolving FAQs: AI chatbots address common questions, reducing support tickets and costs. Learning Customer Behavior – AI learns patterns to offer personalized service options based on previous activities.
  • Faster Response Times: AI speeds up support by providing agents with relevant information.
  • Natural Language Understanding: AI analyzes customer interactions to understand and resolve issues promptly.

AI helping in customer service and retention

#3 Insurance Pricing and Underwriting

AI is transforming insurance by revolutionizing pricing and underwriting. It analyzes data patterns to price products accurately and identifies risk factors from claims data. AI also enhances underwriting decisions by swiftly analyzing applicant information. This potential for efficiency, accuracy, and profitability makes AI a game-changer in the insurance industry.

AI in insurance improves underwriting in the following ways:

  • Pricing: AI analyzes vast data to identify patterns and accurately price products based on risk factors.
  • Underwriting: AI enhances underwriting decisions by quickly and accurately assessing applicant risk based on various factors.
  • Efficient Application Processing: AI automates data collection, extraction, and form filling, streamlining application processing.
  • Better Risk Assessment: AI and ML models deepen understanding of customer risk profiles, enhancing risk assessment accuracy.
  • Frictionless Customer Experience: AI shortens underwriting workflows, meeting real-time service expectations and improving customer satisfaction.
  • Improved Profitability: AI-based automation improves underwriting profitability by reducing costs, customer churn, and retention expenses.

AI helping in Pricing and Underwriting

#4 Personalized Recommendations

Meeting the diverse needs, preferences, and lifestyles of customers is crucial in the insurance industry. Personalized policies, loyalty programs, and recommendations tailored to individual attributes and preferences have become essential.

Research shows that engaged and satisfied customers are 80% more likely to renew their policies. To meet this demand, insurers are utilizing advanced technologies like Machine Learning and AI to develop tools for creating personalized insurance plans based on customer data.

By implementing insurance chatbots and virtual assistants, insurers can provide machine-generated insurance advice, ensuring customers receive adequate coverage and a seamless experience. Additionally, chatbots and voice bots can engage customers with personalized offers, preventing customer churn to competitors and offering tailored recommendations and upselling opportunities.

AI to personalize Insurance recommendations

AI Use Cases in Insurance

Insurance companies are increasingly using AI to improve their operations and provide better service to their customers. Here are some examples of insurance companies that have used AI:

  • Lemonade: Lemonade is a New York-based insurance company that uses AI to process claims in minutes, while the traditional claims process can take weeks or even months.
  • Hippo: Hippo is a home insurance company that uses AI to identify fraudulent claims with 99% accuracy.
    State Farm: State Farm is an American insurance company that uses AI to provide customers with 24/7 support through its chatbot, AskJake.
  • AXA: AXA is a French insurance company that uses AI to develop new products tailored to the needs of individual customers.

A leading non-life insurance company in India offers a wide range of insurance products, including motor insurance. The company’s video chat-based claims survey solution uses the Robosoft Video Chat Solution to enable customers to have video chats with claims adjusters to discuss their claims. The solution also allows claims adjusters to record and capture images of vehicle damage. The solution has been a success for the company and has helped to reduce the time it takes to process claims.

As AI continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more insurance companies using AI to improve their operations and provide better service to their customers.

Wrapping Up

The advent of AI has the potential to revolutionize the insurance industry, bringing about unprecedented changes for insurers and their customers. With AI, insurers can offer their customers a more seamless user experience and potentially more affordable rates.

Moreover, AI enables insurance companies to optimize their processes, resulting in increased efficiency and cost savings. By leveraging AI technologies, insurers can make more accurate risk predictions, leading to safer policy decisions. As AI continues to evolve and be adopted by more companies, we can expect further advancements and improvements in the insurance landscape. Therefore, the future of insurance is indeed being shaped by the transformative power of AI, and this trend is only likely to continue in the years to come.

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Banking Digital Transformation Fintech Insurance

Digital Rising: Opportunities for the Wealth Management Sector

Wealth management was once the exclusive purview of financial advisors who managed the portfolios of a select, affluent few. Personalized portfolio plans and personal relationships drove such advice. The advent of digital technology has democratized many industries – and wealth management is no exception. As we know, in financial services, digital solutions are at the heart of the consumer experience.

The rise of fintech brands, especially those that help manage investments, is dependent more on technologies than on bespoke human advice, as it is all about scale. This has resulted in redefining wealth management as a service. According to a report by FactSet, investors across the wealth scale—from the mass affluent customer with $100 to invest to the ultra-high net worth (UHNW) client worth $10 million—are already embracing online platforms.

The key to digitalization success is targeting the right business areas, bringing in the right skills, and identifying the key processes to maximize value delivery. A comprehensive hybrid-advisory approach leveraging automation, data analytics, digital, and cloud solutions are the need of the hour.

The Key Pillars of Digital Experience in Wealth Management

Rapid technological advancements, changing investor preferences, and increasing financial awareness are prompting wealth managers to reconsider their customer engagement and business strategies. Digitalization helps modern wealth advisors create and understand their client personas better, moving away from “one size fits all” to a more customized approach. The right technology framework will lower infrastructure costs and improve the efficiency, speed, and scalability of the whole wealth management value chain.

Improving customer prospecting through AI/ML and digital onboarding

Digitalization through AI/ML can help wealth managers identify the right prospects and drive customer acquisitions through data-led personalized marketing. Its ability to combine data from various sources enables it to efficiently classify customer segments based on a variety of criteria, identify prospects using real-time data signals from social media, and generate dynamically personalized content for potential clients, all of which help to increase customer acquisition.

Digital Onboarding: Customer onboarding has traditionally required time-consuming manual documentation. However, many broker-dealers and other wealth management companies are digitizing and automating the process to enhance the client experience and save money.

The foundation for a long-term client relationship is established during the wealth management onboarding process, which includes the first serious interactions between an adviser and a client. Client onboarding processes include

  • Prospecting
  • Product selection
  • Regulatory checks
  • New Account Opening (NAO)

As a result, businesses are now able to onboard and serve more clients in less time and with fewer resources, maintaining their competitiveness in a market where investors and regulators are driving down fees. Firms with a robust digital onboarding experience will have a solid competitive advantage in the industry.

Achieving investor centricity through data analytics and management

Wealth managers need accurate and real-time data to assess investor sentiments, understand critical market parameters, and produce insights for quick investor decisions. Data can provide timely, pertinent, and actionable insights that can be used to create new (and enhance existing) product and service propositions, optimize channel management, generate higher returns through informed portfolio choices for the investor, and boost customer engagement, and customer retention.

Wealth managers can make wise decisions and appropriate portfolio modifications by using a quantamental investment technique that leverages sentimental analysis, alternative data, and return analytics. Most wealth managers have advanced their client analytics and advisory capabilities and are in various phases of development.

At present, wealth managers have most of their data locked in product silos and legacy systems. Before using advanced analytics, it is understood that access to precise and complete data is necessary. Wealth management companies need a client-focused, precise master data architecture that combines data from all points along the value chain. By increasing their investment in data management and analytics as part of their digitalization initiatives, wealth managers have a better chance of generating higher returns.

Personalized client experience at the front and center

Personalization is one way that advisors can stay competitive with other firms that may offer lower fees or higher returns on investments. According to a survey, investors are increasingly in need of personalized, goal-based planning and other specialized services. In the next two years, 58% of respondents said they would like personalized financial guidance.

Personalization as its name says is unique to each client. To build solutions that will work with whatever position the clients find themselves in, advisors have for decades always thrived on understanding their clients’ backgrounds and perspectives on risk. For instance, knowing information about a client’s household size, state of residency, and annual income are crucial data points in creating customized options that may be more suited for particular people.

Wealth managers can now offer personalized services at a reasonable cost, enabling them to better compete with firms that offer lower fees or higher returns on investments. Automated rebalancing and custom indexing are two examples.

Advisors can automate trading and rebalancing via automated portfolio allocation. And with the help of automated reporting tools, the adviser can inform a large number of clients about portfolio changes.

Enhancing digital investor management and advisory services

For the wealth management sector, it is crucial to offer a more holistic customer and advisory experience. In addition to the human touch, new-age investors are extremely drawn to digital personalization. Wealth managers may increase client acquisition by creating personalized content for potential investors using AI and data-enabled marketing. By increasing customer engagement, a redesigned digital experience can increase customer retention and give advisers more leverage.

A few of the main touchpoints are-

  • Omnichannel engagement experience: Extends “zero-touch” service by using customized solutions built on video conferencing, on-demand virtual meet (with human advisor), and bot-enabled self-service. Portfolio review and building can be performed over user-friendly virtual solutions accessible over multiple channels.
  • Data-empowered custom solutions: Includes chatbots and avatars that create a personalized and smoother investor experience, thereby promoting customer retention, upselling, and cross-selling. Many established firms are providing AI/ML-powered offerings to query investor portfolios and their holdings and provide data analytics on the performance of the securities in their portfolio.
  • Advisor mobile apps: Enables wealth advisors to organize their activities and handle customer interactions. These apps (for example, MyMerrill) can include functionalities like advisor dashboards and 360-degree visualizations of customers and their risk appetites.

Adopting a cloud architecture to improve scalability and operational efficiency

The Information Technology (IT) landscape within wealth management firms consists of legacy systems that maintain a high volume of financial data, which requires increasing maintenance efforts and costs. An increase in financial data will drive automation processes and solutions as automation and AI/ML become more integrated into wealth management services.

Cloud infrastructure can offer a more reliable alternative to internal legacy systems for handling the increased inflow of data at scale, as well as higher operational efficiency and improved agility/time-to-market. By identifying the migration’s decision paths, which will guide the cloud migration strategy through the assessment, design, build, and migration stages, wealth management firms can optimize their existing application portfolio for cloud adoption.

Robo-advisory: taking the stress out of investing

Robo-advisors use automated, algorithm-based systems to provide portfolio management advice. These services are created with customer-centric thinking, and the technology is developed based on their wants and needs.

Customers are drawn to Robo-advice for a variety of reasons. First of all, it entails lower transaction fees and smaller investment requirements. Secondly, it entails more effective investment management. This is because the majority of Robo-offerings offer portfolio management using algorithmically based automated investment solutions that automatically rebalance the customer’s portfolio’s asset allocation without requiring any activity from the user. Thirdly, it provides less experienced investors with more comprehensive advice. Finally, Robo-advice offers more transparency on each investment and how they are likely to perform. The digital interface of many Robo-advisors makes it easy for an investor to analyze their returns versus benchmarks and progress toward goals.

Robo-advice services, whether new-age start-ups or established ones, also have the potential to widen the availability of investment advice from high net-worth individuals to less wealthy investors. Designing robo-advice services for the mass affluent presents a challenge because the customers may have good investment knowledge or little to no investment knowledge, and there is no human advisor there to make sure that the customer has understood the advice they have received.

Robo-advice services that are well-designed assist customers in receiving the best advice for their financial situation and reduce the likelihood that they will purchase the incorrect product. An agile, customer-experience-led, iterative strategy that designs and tests various interaction patterns is the most effective way to do this; whether that be an interactive Web or Mobile App, Chatbot, or combination of multiple technologies, that is right for the persona of a customer using the service.

Enhancing Digital Experience across the Wealth Management Value Chain

Opportunities for digitalization are seen throughout the wealth management value chain. An integrated digital transformation that addresses all the relevant user touchpoints would make it possible for investors and advisers to have a generally improved user experience. Every component of the wealth management value chain can be linked to a digitalization lever (Front office, Middle office, and Back office).

  • Customer experience is adversely affected by front-office digitalization. The focus is on seamless engagement and improved digital user experience to reduce the turnaround time, increase process efficiency, and ensure a smoother customer journey by Big Tech and Fintech experience.
  • The middle office, which drives the core line of operation in wealth management, is firmly focused on data analytics. However, given the sensitive nature of client data protection concerns and legislation like GDPR and equivalent laws coming into place around the world, a controlled approach to data management and cloudification is the way forward.
  • Automation and cloudification are the main digitalization potential in the back office space. The user experience quotient is not very high primarily because the activities are more in-house driven rather than external stakeholder driven.

The Road Ahead

The need to stay digitally connected and have a lasting influence on investors and asset managers have accelerated after the global pandemic. The focus is on creating a digital ecosystem built on tools and measures for a touchless remote experience without compromising on quality, which may have permanently changed how people work.

From a service and product perspective, the focus is steadily moving toward personalization, driven by effective data analysis. The emphasis is now on specialized products, personalized advisory services, and flexible pricing structures for different investment classes. One key factor that unites these shifts is the proactive application of technology and accelerated digitalization, whether inorganically or organically.

Effective use of technology through an omnichannel delivery model is essential for people-centric and relationship-driven industries like wealth management to promote the right level of customer engagement. Firms can look forward to investing in in-house technology and aligning with tech vendors, for the timely implementation of modern investment solutions, keeping relevant to a variety of customer segments, and staying ahead of ever-increasing competition.

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Insurance

How Technology in P&C Insurance Enhances Profitability and Customer Engagement

As an industry, insurance is often considered to be evergreen in terms of profitability. However, while demand for insurance has grown globally, insurance providers are facing a number of challenges that affect profitability.

According to a McKinsey report, profits reduced by around 15 percent compared to 2019, and premium growth had slowed to around 1.2 percent in 2020, compared with over 4 percent growth in the decade between 2010 and 2020. However, post COVID-19, insurance companies are poised to take advantage of the rebound. Based on a survey of over 424 insurance respondents, the Deloitte Centre for Financial Services reports that insurance companies have an optimistic outlook, while the Swiss Re Institute predicts rising demand worldwide, with premiums for all lines rebounding by 3.9 percent in 2022, as compared to the earlier drop of 1.3 percent in 2020.

Despite the opportunity, risk factors have increased and insurers are aware of the need to deal with challenges facing the industry and build business resilience. Across the insurance sector, there is a higher claims incidence, leading to increased pay outs and loss of profitability. Insurers need to maintain higher capital because of regulatory pressures. They are also facing increasing competition from new entrants in insurtech.

Property & casualty insurance at a pivotal stage

The US property and casualty (P&C) insurance market is a case in point. Not so long ago it was the pandemic that was keeping insurers awake at night. Now, inflation is putting them to the test. The US holds the biggest market share of P&C insurance and is among the most mature geographies for insurance. However, inflationary pressures are significantly holding down P&C insurance carriers. Although the market grew by a moderate 4.7% between 2018-19, these challenges are dampening future prospects.

Opportunities in P&C are rising, but insurers are weighed down by market volatility, changing customer expectations, and loss of profitability to name a few. Given the uncertainty of tomorrow, P&C insurers need to build business resilience – the ability to endure present challenges and be ready for future shocks and negative events.

The insurance industry is learning from the success of insurtechs and waking up to the advantages of strengthening customer connections by going digital. One of the biggest positives in recent years is the accelerated digitalization that enables non-face-to-face interactions between the insurer and the insured. Today, customers want more intuitive, user-friendly apps that will help them gain quick access to relevant data that will help make the right choices for their insurance needs, streamline processes, and more. They also expect 24/7 assistance in making decisions. Research indicates that a good number of respondents are ready to move away from insurance companies that do not offer these advantages.

Consumer insurance buying preferences

Source: Accenture

Building resilience in P&C insurance with technology

As P&C insurance is complexity-ridden and highly regulated, the way forward needs to be holistic and future-ready. Resilience is key to countering market volatility, inflationary pressures, and intense competition – that means becoming nimble, responsive, and well-prepared for all the odds. These challenges, considered together, call for a major shift in strategy by traditional insurance players.

Technology can provide P&C insurance companies with not just the chance to become more future-ready but also to differentiate themselves using technology. Insurers can adopt digital to create a wider platform that can connect customers, partners, and employees all at the same time. Tech innovation finds application across the value chain from marketing through distribution, products and services, and throughout backend processes from underwriting to claims. Technology can also help design and create memorable user experiences, engaging with customers more deeply with empathetic, hyper-personalized interactions at various touchpoints of the customer journey.

P&C Insurance value chain

Source: Aite Group

Streamlining claims with automation, AI, and straight-through processing

Automating claims processing, typically a long and tedious task, reduces processing time and cost by programming tools to handle repetitive tasks.

Insurance claim processing comparison

Source: Altexsoft

Self-service in insurance is also becoming popular. One such example is that of easy claims filing online by customers themselves. Apps offer features allowing customers to take photos and upload them while lodging claims for auto insurance from the site of the event itself, enabling remote inspection. This advantage is offered by Bdeo’s AI-enabled platform on their mobile app. In addition, their chatbot uses Natural Language Processing to get reliable information on the accident by ensuring claimants share photographic evidence of acceptable quality on the platform. The insurer uses these inputs as part of their inspection and investigation of the incident remotely. This helps make more accurate evaluations and improves the claim processing experience for both the insurer and claimant.

AI will make it even easier to identify fraudulent claims, as well as provide predictions and estimates of possible damages and extent of losses. In fact, studies indicate that AI has great potential in disrupting core processes including underwriting, claims, marketing by enabling more human-like interactions with customers. Here we illustrate the use of AI in streamlining content extraction that can speed up the processing of claims dramatically while making communication and other value-added services easier to achieve.

AI powered insurance claim processing example

Source: Whatfix

Straight-through processing is another solid investment pathway for insurers – it can be done without any manual input, reduces operational costs, and helps insurers take pricing volatility in their stride. At the same time, policy holders can choose how they want to receive claims settlements in a convenient manner.

Strategic decision-making bolstered by Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Property and insurance carriers tend to be skeptical about RPA, however RPA has proven to drastically reduce errors, improve operational efficiencies, enhance scalability, and optimize headcounts at financially viable numbers. The benefits of RPA multiple when the insurer decides to automate non-strategic tasks while retaining humans to perform value-added tasks. For example, in auto insurance, gathering and validating information around accident claims from various sources such as police reports of accidents, driver’s licenses, photos of damage to the vehicle(s) involved etc. can be tedious and time-consuming, but RPA can comb through data from various sources quickly.

The true potential of RPA is visible when it is collaboratively applied with other technologies to augment strategic decisions made by the human workforce. In the underwriting process, which is again typically lengthy, bots can leverage AI and analytical capabilities to glean information from both external and internal sources, fill up application forms with appropriate data, assess loss runs, evaluate the claimant’s past track record of claims and settlements, and offer pricing based on this deep well of insights – all in quick time. With RPA, it also becomes easier for insurers to keep up with multiple regulatory standards, which are still evolving and ensure compliance.

Driving responsible customer behavior using telematics

Arriving at the optimal price is foremost for 52% of auto insurance customers and 50% of home insurance customers, as per an Accenture study. Giving their customers optimal pricing will instantly create a competitive advantage for insurers. Telematics applications are already being used to great effect for pricing in the automotive insurance space. Now there is scope to use these applications such as vehicle tracking to instruct and control driver behavior and conditions such as drowsiness, for example.

Smart household or property devices that come alive with the Internet of Things (IoT), will come in handy for closely monitoring data such as humidity and temperature, which could potentially cause damage or depreciation to the home infrastructure or property over time. Data and analytics extracted from these devices can be used to plan risk assessment and inspection of large commercial properties with associated risks. Visuals captured via satellite can be used to draw attention to potential risks or causes of damage to property in a cost-effective manner without requiring an in-person visit from the insurer. These insights can be used by insurers to both monitor and suggest pre-emptive measures around potential risky behavior or lifestyle of policy holders.

Smartening up insurer-insured relationships through smart contracts

As early as 2018, BCG research had predicted that smart contracts could help P&C insurers with savings of more than $200 billion per year in their operational costs.

Here’s why smart contracts are the smart option. These are formulated in lieu of physical insurance policies and all associated claims management information using blockchain technology, which stores transactions as lines of code. Tracking, management, and cloud storage of policies, records of physical assets, and claims-triggering events can all be automated and also takes care of user authentication and detection of fraudulent activities. Smart contracts are easily accessible by insurers, reinsurers, brokers, and other parties thus reducing duplication of effort as well as manual intervention and programmed for claims processing actions automatically.

Unlike physical contracts, smart contracts can track insurance claims and hold both parties accountable. These contracts are, thus, inherently more secure and transparent for users, settle payments on approved claims quickly, and go a long way in lifting the trust factor as well as efficiency of back-end operations.

Ensuring omni-channel customer experience with bots and tools

Keeping up a persistent line of communication with policyholders and prospective customers is important for the insurer in terms of business and keeping customers interested. Chatbots can be introduced early in the discovery or pre-sales stages to initiate conversations about product offerings that might be suitable to customers and prospects. Likewise, the customer’s need for 24/7 assistance and quick responses can be met by chat-bots rather than wait for a human team member who can be freed up to address core service areas. They are already proving popular in the auto and home lines of P&C insurance. For example, Lemonade, who is a leading online P&C insurer, extensively uses app-based chat-bots supported by AI. Their bots are able to devise insurance policies and quotes that are tailored to each customer and available directly on the app. They also interact with and field customer queries while helping process claim applications promptly.

Familiarizing customers and employees with digital adoption platforms

Not all employees are tech savvy. Neither are customers. It makes sense for insurers to invest in training to improve agent performance and customer experience. Integrating training tools with the tech stack adopted by the insurer, will help their workforce and customers effectively use the various tools and processes that are now available to simplify the myriad processes that go into insurance. These include walk-throughs, self-help widgets, quick guides, and AI-enabled assistants for employees.

In conclusion

P&C insurance companies have to work through a maze of challenging situations and gaps as they go about strengthening relationships with customers. AI/ML, IoT, telematics, blockchain, and other emerging technologies can offer a wider, more personalized spectrum of benefits by harnessing data, shaping new offerings like social insurance, and more.

In short, technology can be the bridge that makes interactions meaningful and productive for both insurers and those seeking insurance. It remains to be seen how far P&C insurance players are ready to leap in building the bridge that holds the key to the future.

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Banking Fintech Insurance

InsurTech Challenges and Role of Technology for Growth of Insurance Sector

In a world of unpredictable yet unavoidable change, individuals, companies and even governments turn to the insurance sector to be prepared. Insurance needs are changing in many ways, such as including risks related to climate change like floods or bushfires, or even novelties like ‘hole-in-one’ insurance (where a golf tournament insures itself to pay the prize bonanza on the off chance that a hole-in-one is achieved). With an increasingly online generation, even as traditional insurers bank on the credibility and trust they have accumulated, the new age InsurTech companies chip away at the market with digital experiences and new models.

When it comes to innovating with technology, InsurTech companies have an advantage over traditional insurers. They are nimble and flexible with their offerings, able to quickly establish low-cost digital platforms and new operating models. InsurTech companies’ biggest advantage is the hold they have over the customer’s pulse. With smartphones becoming commonplace, customers find that InsurTech offers comfort, convenience, and speed in making important insurance-related decisions and transactions.

Research indicates that 28 of the 280 FinTech firms that have turned unicorns to date have played an instrumental role in driving innovation or disrupting the way insurance is done. From claim management to reinsurance, asset management, customer onboarding, and engagement, InsurTechs have earned their colors across the insurance value chain and are here to stay.

Challenges to InsurTech

Despite these gains, experts believe that InsurTech market growth will have to endure several constraints. Foremost among them is a lack of awareness about the value InsurTech can deliver, and dearth of professionals who can expertly work with advanced technologies. These factors could restrict InsurTech companies from scaling their technology capabilities to the extent desired.

However, it is undisputed that the future of insurance will be tech-driven in the form of embedded ecosystems, AI & ML, blockchain, low code technology, and more. 85% of insurance companies recognize the need to prioritize digitalization, so it may not be long before traditional market leaders catch up with their technology capabilities or look to buy out smaller players. InsurTech start-ups have their work cut out in gaining the kind of trust and credibility enjoyed by established insurers. Now, they must rethink strategy to retain their technology advantage.

Insurance Market Concentration

If we look at the US which is the global market leader, InsurTech is expected to grow at more than 7% CAGR over the next five years. The competition is definitely heating up here.

Read more: The Rise of FinTech in Asia: Success Stories and Learnings

Business opportunities for insurance will continue to flow in as the world becomes increasingly digital. More aspects such as health, travel, auto, and home will be included under the umbrella of online insurance.

InsurTech companies will need rely on their strength – technology – to offer a wider, more personalized range of benefits shaped by data, new offerings like social insurance, and cost saving tools like virtual agents powered by conversational AI etc.

McKinsey research opines that five rapidly advancing technologies will significantly redefine the future of insurance. These include applied AI, distributed infrastructure, future of connectivity, next-level automation, and trust architecture. By putting the full force of their tech advantage here, InsurTech players can solidify their business and expand their portfolio.

1. Powering up core processes with AI

Since the pandemic, at least a quarter of life insurers in the US have expanded their automated underwriting practice to simplify the application process. From reducing claims processing time and cost to improving fraudulent claim detection and claim adjustment processes, AI and automation are proving be invaluable.

Take for example, the AI-enabled platform offered by Bdeo, available on their mobile app. It comes with a chatbot that uses Natural Language Processing principles to liaise with claimants, get first-hand info on the accident/damage that has occurred and helps them share photographic evidence of acceptable quality on the platform. The insurer can use the app to inspect and investigate the incident remotely using computer vision models. Doing so helps avert errors in evaluation and improves the overall claim processing experience for both the insurer and claimant.

Studies predict that AI will disrupt underwriting, claims, marketing, distribution and other core processes by enabling more human-like interactions across various customer touchpoints. There is a plethora of opportunities that can be exploited. For example, the associated customer data can be used for predictive analysis and forecasting, which can in turn, inform the development of new product and service lines.

2. Enabling intelligent insurance with distributed infrastructure on the cloud

Many core insurance processes that have been weighed down by legacy systems are finally modernizing. This allows insurers to leverage cloud-native infrastructure, ramp up to manage workloads without impacting customer experience and speed up their innovation efforts. Thanks to cloud computing, they will be better placed to harness the massive amounts of claim-related data available to benefit their customers and increase profitability.

This is a huge opportunity for traditional insurers to collaborate with InsurTech to form partnerships that leverage their strengths and quickly enable plug-ins, distribution channels, and other value-adds. For instance, InsurTechs can offer digital solutions to efficiently sift through vast historical data of established insurers, to identify and interpret customer patterns and insights to determine the kind of new product/service lines to be developed. In fact, at least 75% of insurers were found to be seeking out InsurTech collaboration to improve their customer experiences according to a Capgemini survey.

3. Developing insurance products using telematics

Telematics technology is increasingly being used to monitor, interpret, even influence consumer behavior. For example, innovation stimulated by IoT adoption is being applied in connected home devices to track humidity, temperature and other parameters, which potentially cause damage to property. Insurers can leverage the data generated on these devices to estimate risk over time. Similar innovations are being explored across the domains of insurance to life, health, auto, manufacturing, commerce etc. The advent of 5G will enable real-time data sharing and make it possible for insurers to turnaround services faster than ever.

For example, being covered against ride cancellations is a value-add for customers and digital solutions can be developed to enable this as a timely service using real-time availability of data. Another example of value-add is the coverage against bodily harm to earners and riders of every trip offered by Uber in partnership with a leading insurer.

4. Enabling human decisions via bots

While robotic process automation (RPA) has proved its worth in automating back-office functions in the insurance industry, there’s a lot it can do in terms of next-level process automation that will shape the future of insurance. For example, the IoT-enabled, real-time monitoring of factory equipment can predict maintenance needs and prevent repair or damage that result in insurance claims.

RPA also has a distinct role to play in supporting human decisions in a cost-effective and timely manner. As an example, it can expedite claims processing wherein photos of the damage to a vehicle are automatically assessed and verified for authenticity without requiring an in-person visit by a claims adjuster to the damage site. Likewise, building optical character recognition features into RPA will help extract text from claim applications in large volumes and ensure that the information it contains is distributed to the right functions for further processing.

5. Laying the foundations for trust with blockchain

Increased digitalization of insurance is raising security concerns due to the sensitive nature of customer data that is being shared across the insurance ecosystem. Building customer trust will be a priority for insurance players, which is where blockchain comes to the rescue.

Along with its advantages of transparency and efficiency, blockchain will play a leading role in helping carriers safeguard customer data from cyberattacks and data breaches. It will also simplify user authentication, identity management, and fraudulent claim detection etc. Through blockchain-based smart contracts, policies can be converted to decentralized lines of codes that will make consumer’s data immutable and easily available for immediate verification in the event of any claims made to the insurer. If it proves to be fraudulent, the contract will immediately be discontinued, and the premium amount paid returned to the insured. This kind of data transparency and responsiveness of the system will help build trust between all concerned parties.

The future of digital insurance paved by tech-led design

As insurance becomes more digitally driven, user experience (UX) will be all the more crucial for branding. While an omnichannel insurance experience is the norm today, creating memorable user experiences at all possible touchpoints will be paramount to carving out stronger market positions for the InsurTech brand.

For example, the silver agers generation are no longer the most dominant consumers of insurance. In fact, studies that the interest now being shown by millennials and Gen-Zers towards insurance products exceeds that of the older generations.

Percentage of people using app to manage insurance

Or, as this chart indicates, nearly half the individuals in the 65+ age category are unlikely to use an insurance app. If the insurer wants to attract more consumers from this cohort, they will need to leverage data to understand preferences, simplify interfaces, customize their offerings and so on.

According to the World InsurTech Report 2021, half of the insurance customers are willing to explore solutions offered by new-age digital players. The insurance market will experience disruption and a new order will emerge. Traditional insurers are more likely than ever to engage in partnerships with InsurTechs to stay relevant. Niche players and start-ups in InsurTech will not only need to leverage emerging technologies but also understand the complexities of insurance better and closely follow changing needs of their target demographics.

Led by research, data analytics, and empathic and intuitive design of user-centric interfaces, InsurTech players will be able to create market differentiation that can help them explore opportunities to build partnerships with traditional players so that both survive and thrive.

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Artificial Intelligence Mobile Tech Talk

6 Dating App Trends in 2023 – Right Swiping Technology to find Perfect Match

Since the dawn of time, pursuing their significant other has always been one of the life purposes of a living being. Be it humans, animals, birds, or mammals, all go through this natural order of mate selection to populate their species. While animals and birds and others usually fight it out to present themselves as the strongest candidate, things have become much easier in the case of humans – all thanks to technology and dating apps.

Cavemen and medieval men used to fight and duel over the approval of a woman. Nowadays a quirky bio and just a right swipe is enough.

The 90s saw a rise of matchmaking websites in India as well as globally with shaadi.com, bharatmatrimony.com, match.com, and others. They started out as preferred online medium to find suitable matches according to social compatibility like caste, culture, region, language education, etc. But very much like Netflix took over Napster, Tinder’s mobile first platform-based approach took over existing linear based models to become the popular choice of dating medium. Globally, Tinder was the highest grossing non-gaming app in 2017.

The online dating market showed no signs of slowing down during and after the pandemic and have been valued at US$12.37 billion in 2021. It is now expected to be worth US$28.36 billion by 2027. We are seeing an influx of dating apps such as Bumble, Hinge, Grindr, Hily, Clover, Plenty of Fish, etc. They all come with their own unique proposition of finding matches for their users. As the dating behaviors of users change with time, these apps adapt to these changes and provide what their users need.

Trend is in the app

Trends are nothing but a general direction of change in something. The biggest transition we can see in the dating scenario is that now people are being more selective of who they go out with.

A recent survey shows “61% of daters use an online dating app to meet people that shares common interests, 44% of daters use an online dating app to meet someone who shares their values and beliefs, and 42% of daters use an online dating app to meet someone for marriage”.

These numbers indicate the current mindset of people regarding their partner selection by the dating app.

The pandemic caused a lot of mental, emotional, and physical stress upon people. As a result, people had more time to reflect on their needs and priorities. The dating apps acknowledged their users’ priorities and introduced several technology-driven features to heed their needs. Below are some of the noticeable CX and behavioral trends among daters and dating apps-

#1 Let’s take it slow

While the pandemic forced people to stay inside, the dating apps didn’t suffer its consequences. In fact, research by Sensor Tower shows that dating app downloads grew 3% Y/Y in Q4 of 2020. The same research also indicates the average age for dating apps has steadily declined in recent years. The declining average age was more visible from the Q1 to Q3 of 2020.

Dating app average age of users during pandemic

Source: Sensor Tower

There are new dating terms that are making the rounds among young users from millennials and Gen Z – Dry Dating, Hesidating, Slow Dating. All terms coined due to the unwillingness of people to go all out with complete strangers.

According to Tinder’s CEO, Renate Nyborg, Gen Z consists of more than half its user base and they eventually want to take things slow in dating. Their idea of ideal dating scenario is different from millennials as they want to know their potential matches better before committing themselves romantically or meeting them. Tinder launched different intent-based swipe features for its users. They can now match by adding “Passions, Prompts and Vibes” to their respective profiles. All things helping matches to know each other better without any romantic expectations and then only take things further if “vibes match”.

#2 Discretion for safety reasons

Dating apps leveraged their digital capabilities to remain competitive in the times of full lockdown. As in-person meetings were not possible then, dating apps introduced in-app video call features for locked-in individuals. The nimbleness of dating apps to adopt to a change was one of the reasons their demand didn’t go down like other businesses.

But as people are using the video call features more and more, it raises the question of privacy and safety. This resulted in many dating apps now offering discreet video call features where users can video call with their blurred faces or silhouettes. The new video call feature also takes user’s permissions before connecting a call for increased discretion. Due to heightened safety concerns, many dating apps started taking different measures to address those. S’More defines itself as an “anti-superficial dating app” as it doesn’t straightaway reveal the image of its users. The profile image appears as blur initially and gets clearer as the conversation continues between matches.

Smore dating app

#3 Minimal efforts maximum gain

Almost all the freemium dating apps like Tinder offer a limited number of free swipes per day to their users. However, the introduction of AI based recommendations has increased the likelihood of users being hooked to the app. AI and ML learn from user’s personal data and preferences to ensure every match has the possibility to be “the one”.

There are over 300 million dating app users worldwide with about 20 million subscribed to one of their premium features. It creates an opportunity for dating apps to increase the likelihood of in-app purchases by offering more value or better matches to their users.

#4 Inclusivity for exclusivity

The huge popularity of value-driven, niche dating platforms in recent years have indicated a change from mindless swiping by global users. People now prefer quality over quantity and are looking for dating apps where they “truly belong”. There are already successful apps like Grindr catering to gay, bisexual and bi-curious men. Similarly, there are other niche dating apps that cater to either sexual preferences, hobbies, or interests of users.

Dig – for dog lovers is a niche dating app consisting of only dog loving users. It totally eliminates the concern of daters about what their match would think about their favorite pet.

Veggly is a dating app specifically for vegans and vegetarians.

Tastebuds is especially built for music lovers who match and can immediately start discussing their favorite artists, bands, etc.

BLK is a dating app for Black singles in the black community. It strives to create a warm, inviting, supportive, and inclusive space where Black love is celebrated and respected in all its forms.

Her dating app is specially built for lesbian, bi and queer community. The free version of the app lets you add friends, view profiles, start chats, view events, and join communities.

Other popular apps like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble have taken cues from this and redesigned their apps to included more sex orientation selections, more varied interests, suggestive bios to showcase on a profile.

#5 It’s a social thing now

One of the most difficult steps in online dating is the talking phase where you try to find common things to talk about. That’s when you feel the need for a friend to support you and guide you. Dating apps like Fourplay encourage people to form a tag team and team up with two more as they start messaging each other.

Thursday app helps skip the talking phase altogether and brings the online dating community directly offline. It hosts secret parties where only singles are allowed. The most likely scenario is a person would be taking along one of their single friends to these events and “socialize”. Ship (now discontinued) allowed users to become a matchmaker and find a suitable match for their friend. It also offered a group chat feature for better validation of the potential match.

Thursday dating app

#6 Gamification could be the key

Tinder’s “Swipe Night” was a huge success. It allows the user to solve a mystery based on game narration and first-person adventure. User’s choices allow to dictate the story and reveal different answers based on that. It then allows users to highlight their game answers in their respective Tinder bios. They are more likely to match with people who have similar answers and thinking patterns

Bumble introduced sets of recommended ice breaking questions to help matches get over the initial nervousness and start talking. Both users answer one of the chosen ice breaking questions and match their answers. Based on the answers they can carry forward their conversation.

Technology – the ultimate matchmaker in the digital era

Dating apps are indeed tech companies leveraging technology to offer social values. The fast adoption of newer technologies and digital transformation in every industry can be seen in dating apps as well. Dating apps are now taking advantage of cutting-edge software and technology such as AI/ML, VR, Metaverse to provide a whole new experience in dating to its users. Let’s take a deeper look at how these technologies are playing a matchmaking role in our dating lives –

AI/ML

Earlier Tinder used an ELO algorithm for matching profiles on the platform. It worked on a weightage system where users with most right swipes had a better probability of finding matches quicker. It then now moved away from this and now relies on a “dynamic system” that monitors the user behaviors on the platform through their swiping patterns and what’s on their profiles. Although not mentioned clearly, this dynamic system could be all but AI and ML deployed by Tinder for matching profiles.

“In a recent interview, Jennifer Flashman – Tinder’s director of analytics, explains that in leveraging AI to build better user experiences, it’s become clear to her that the future of dating will increasingly occur over texts and DMs rather than blind dates and phone calls. As this shift continues to accelerate, here are the top reasons she thinks companies are “swiping right” on AI in dating—and why other industries should be figuring out how to swipe right!”

AI and ML are already creating efficient and smart business processes in different industries. It has potential to transform the dating industry as well. The dating app Hinge employs machine learning as part of its algorithm by suggesting a “Most Compatible” match to its users.

5G

5G with its increased bandwidth, reliability, and speed has made it possible for dating apps to introduce more video-based features in their apps. Although the main beneficiary of 5G services is the OTT industry. But dating apps also can enjoy a few benefits of 5G. Dating apps now offer buffer-less video call, uninterrupted live streaming, Netflix party, etc. to their users for increased engagement. With time we can only imagine other benefits 5G and its subsequent updates may bring to the dating world.

Blockchain

The two founding principles of blockchain are full transparency and immutability. These two factors can play a major role in verifying user identities in dating apps while maintaining the option of privacy.

German company Hicky was one of the first to introduce blockchain based dating app back in 2018. It was built to ensure security and incentivize good behavior of its users.

Luna works on a tokenized dating system and incentivizes people to choose their contacts more carefully.

Ponder uses blockchain-based recommendation system and game mechanics in its app. It also offers financial rewards to motivate everyone to play matchmaker for their friends.

Ponder dating app

VR and Metaverse

The possibilities of Metaverse are endless for daters. It opens the gate to a whole new world of possibilities for them. Dating in metaverse framework depends on the idea of avatars, an advanced articulation of an individual. Nevermet strives to find matches for people in the Metaverse and VR. Dating applications with a metaverse framework depend on the idea of avatars, an advanced articulation of an individual.

Read more: Metaverse or MetaAverse – A Design Thinking Approach To Future Digital Ecosystems

Finding meaningful relationships in virtual platforms like online gaming is nothing new. But VR dating apps like Flirtual and Planet Theta provide the feeling of being physically present with others as well as bring a significant portion of body language into the mix.

VR technology enables the users to connect with their matches authentically in fantastical environments that are impossible to replicate in the real world. People can visit any location, go to any bar, play with unicorns, all on their first date.

Find your ‘lobster’

Contrary to popular beliefs, it’s the nerds that get the dates. Quite literally!

Being tech companies first, the top dating apps are always in an advantageous position to pivot and redefine their value proposition. They continuously vie for users’ attention and roll out new features whenever deemed necessary. Bumble and Hinge rolled out their new voice prompts while Tinder is working on a social mode called Swipe Party. Bumble also recently had its first acquisition in Fruitz – described promptly as a “Gen Z dating app”.

There is still a large untapped market out there waiting for something in their niche. Currently we have over 1500 dating apps or websites worldwide and with new apps quickly emerging, nothing is certain for established big players. There are plenty of fish in the sea if you have the right strategy in place to catch them. The dating industry is facing a real need to embrace innovation or get overshadowed by newer dating apps with fresher ideas and newer technology behind them. Dating apps have the impetus to improve their transparency and provide users with a more complete experience.

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Customer Experience Insurance

Digital Insurance Trends Shaping Customer Experience

It’s challenging for traditional insurers to stay competitive in today’s dynamic digital market. Insurtech companies however are growing in the current experience economy, where consumers value experiences and emotions over goods and services. These forward-thinking, technologically driven businesses are providing great customer service by adapting to and exceeding the ever-changing demands and expectations of today’s customers.

According to a recent IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Liferay, customer experience (CX) will account for 37% of IT spending in the insurance sector by 2024 and grow at a CAGR of 17.5% to reach 50 billion USD. The IDC InfoBrief also states that “providing an excellent and personalized experience to new digital customers is a must for any insurer to build loyalty and long-term relationships, with 60% of insurers saying attracting and retaining customers are their top priorities”.

It is evident that insurers would face difficulty acquiring and retaining customers without a customer-focused strategy. Insurance companies must rethink how they engage with clients if they want to improve customer experience.

Increased Expectations for a Seamless CX

The largest customer segment for insurance was typically thought to be the silver agers generation. However, a survey by Allianz indicated that after the pandemic, millennials and Gen-Z were more interested than their older counterparts in upgrading their insurance coverage. However, younger customers are used to a clear and smooth digital experience, from social networking to mobile banking to music streaming and e-commerce services. Expectations from the insurance industry are no different. According to a study, customer experience (CX) accounts for nearly 60% of brand loyalty, and 96% of consumers believe that customer service is essential for maintaining brand loyalty.

The insurance sector is finding it challenging to meet these expectations. In a survey from the IBM Institute of Business Value, 60% of insurers acknowledge that their company does not have a customer experience strategy. Although the insurance sector has developed and offered some specific insurance products in response to these shifts in customer expectations, it is still trailing in providing clients with the comfort and ease that mobile technology can give.

Digital Trends Insuring a Better CX

The use of mobile phones and the internet has increased significantly worldwide. And when it comes to leveraging digital technologies to scale their business model and work toward providing a hassle-free experience, the insurance sector is not far behind. Some of the digital trends in the insurance industry are listed below:

1. Omnichannel insurance customer experiences

EY Global Insurance Consumer Report revealed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, digital interaction with agents was preferred by 43% of consumers in Europe markets, up from 28% before the pandemic.

In addition to preferring digital interaction, audiences, particularly younger ones, expect consistent, integrated experiences across all communication channels. For instance, if a customer begins a claim submission procedure over the phone and wishes to complete it through the web customer portal, he or she must be able to do it without having to input specific information once more. To meet such demands and preferences of the customer, there is an increasing desire for more integrated and holistic experiences that offer a unified, connected experience flow across channels.

Insurers thus need to assist the customers at every stage of their journey by establishing an omnichannel ecosystem for marketing, sales, and customer support. It helps them gain consumer loyalty along with giving them better control over the CX. These omnichannel experiences can be created by:

● Assisting customers on their preferred web channels

● Connecting customers’ offline and online experiences

● Tailoring the content of websites or mobile apps for various screens

● Following client activity across channels with the help of advanced monitoring technologies

● Using progressive profiling and autofill forms to prevent users from frequently filling out forms while logging in from various devices or platforms

● Making use of client information to retarget individuals with tailored campaigns across platforms, etc.

2. Self-service options

A self-service portal that allows customers to manage their policies, make payments, submit claims, etc. is something that more and more customers are expecting from their insurance service providers. According to the World Insurance Report, 72.7% of tech-savvy customers prefer to renew or apply for coverage digitally while 57.6% of non-tech-savvy customers agree that digital policy management is important. Statistics indicate that most customers are equipped for self-service policy management, regardless of their level of digital skills. For insurance companies, self-service capabilities have several advantages:

● Lower customer acquisition costs

● Increased customer retention and loyalty

● Rapid claim processing, etc.

3. Personalized insurance apps

Over the past few years, the number of customers who would transfer insurance providers owing to poor UI UX rose by 80%. Custom insurance applications are currently the most popular channel for customer account service because a huge chunk of insurers allow customers to manage their policies via mobile apps. When providing personalized services, insurers saw an 81% increase in customer retention and an 89% increase in customer engagement.

The below qualities should be present in the customized app:

● A user-friendly interface that is compatible with both computers and mobile devices

● Workflow automation and analytics capabilities

● Payment processing

● Personalized dashboards for simple policy management and monitoring

● Other features include an embedded knowledge base, electronic signatures, and downloadable documents.

4. Internet of Things (IoT)

The insurance industry will undergo major changes in the future as a result of IoT. These technologies can be used in the four largest digital insurance ecosystems: connected cars, smart homes, connected health, and commercial lines.

The IoT makes it possible for insurance companies to use data from internet-connected devices to improve operational effectiveness. These interconnected devices communicate with one another automatically, allowing for more precise predictive analytics, snap decisions, and seamless process automation.

IoT has made it possible for insurers to collect data on policyholder behavior and quickly alert them about accidents. In this approach, IoT helps with both customer relationship management and claims processing. While customers might forget to recall and submit event details, IoT records everything. As a result, insurers are better equipped to precisely analyze damage, pinpoint the exact cause of accidents, and determine fair compensations.

5. Chatbots

Another effective technique that insurers of today should use to meet client expectations is chatbot technology. These are bot-powered chat widgets that have been added to the insurer’s website, messaging service, or client portal. Insurers must set up chatbots for many reasons:

● They assist prospects by providing quotes or addressing queries

● They improve customer experience by offering 24/7 help

● They free up agents by handling repetitive customer queries

● They generate leads by collecting visitors’ contact information

● They qualify leads and automatically identify the right plans for them

● They can be used to automate the claims process

When it comes to processing insurance applications and claims, a good chatbot can almost entirely take the role of a real person. This cutting-edge strategy enables insurers to provide excellent customer service while enabling agents to concentrate on more difficult responsibilities.

6. The rise of Insurtech

Insurtech is the application of cutting-edge technology to innovation in the insurance industry. More specifically, big data, AI, blockchain, IoT, natural language processing, and other technologies are what power Insurtech. The most important insurance operations, such as underwriting, fraud prevention, claims processing, etc., are addressed by these solutions.

The core digitization strategies stated above are only the outset of Insurtech. It replaces conventional, legacy-driven insurance procedures by adding these cutting-edge technologies. The most frequent use cases for Insurtech involve risk assessment and mitigation due to the constant emergence of new threats.

7. Predictive Analysis

Predictive Analysis has always been a major aspect of insurance agents’ day-to-day tasks. The role of insurance agents has always included a significant amount of predictive analysis. The data analytics landscape saw a significant transformation in recent years. Agents can now select from a wide range of tools and techniques to carry out a precise Predictive Analysis. If they wish to remain competitive and meet the criteria set by InsurTech leaders, they need to quit depending on manual processes.

Predictive Analytics has been credited by insurers with lower underwriting costs (67%), increased sales (60%), and increased profitability (60%). In 2022 and in the years to come, predictive analytics will become increasingly valuable in the insurance industry.

Predictive Analysis can be implemented in the following tasks:

● Insurance pricing and policy optimization

● Risk assessment

● Fraud detection

● Claims management

● Proactive customer engagement

For instance, prediction algorithms powered by machine learning can enhance insurance plans and present more pertinent insurance products to prospective or existing consumers by analyzing customer behavioral signals and purchase trends. Predictive analytics eliminates the component of the guesswork from the policy pricing process, enhancing customer satisfaction and boosting revenue for insurance businesses.

8. Artificial Intelligence

The insurance sector is actively implementing AI-powered solutions as the technology becomes more and more prevalent and is utilized to power a variety of activities. By 2030, automation powered by AI is expected to replace more than 50% of claim-related processes, according to McKinsey. Insurers need to start their AI journey right away to make it practicable.

By automatically analyzing vast volumes of consumer data, AI processing enables insurers to provide customized client experiences. These innovations significantly alter the entire underwriting process while simultaneously speeding up claim response time.

The following technological solutions give insurers access to AI capabilities:

● AI-enabled insurance chatbots

● Predictive analytics tools

● Fraud detection software

● Document capture technologies

● Risk management software

● Claims processing software

Additionally, AI and similar technologies aren’t susceptible to human error, thus removing associated risks that could have a detrimental impact on insurers’ profitability.

9. Simplicity and speed improve customer CX

Insurance is a very sensitive matter in terms of customer experience. This is because when an accident occurs, the essential quality evaluation by customers takes place at a time of the highest emotional fragility and strain. Complex contracts and a bad claims experience are the two primary causes of friction. Because of this, many customers have negative impressions of their insurance experiences.

Customers report a lack of knowledge, assurance, and trust in insurance, according to the EY 2021 Global Insurance Outlook. This is further supported by the idea that, rather than providing for their clients, insurers frequently seek different justifications and defenses to avoid paying insurance compensation. Such immoral practices will have disastrous CX effects.

Insurance companies will need to integrate digital channels with back-end systems, automate manual operations, and improve third-party processes to enable faster digital processing to meet client demand for speed. As digital behavior develops and consumer expectations, influenced by digital services from various industries rise, the necessity for simplicity and speed will only expand.

10. Customer-Centered Design

In an era where customer experience is beginning to trump price and product as a brand advantage, it’s critical to not undervalue the importance of personalization and customer-centricity.

Given that the growth of digital ecosystems has lowered the barrier to entry, brought about the rise of new players (Insurtech businesses), and increased market rivalry, the ability to offer customers the best value has emerged as the primary competitive advantage. Corroboration of increasing innovation may be found in operational areas like policy servicing (in life insurance), claims (in vehicle insurance), and back-office operations (in health insurance).

Companies in the Insurtech sector create digital products with the customer at the center and offer disruptive services to the market. When a customer interacts with an insurance business, it’s important to understand their situation and be empathetic. The only approach to develop that level of empathy is to conduct insurance UX research and use the results of that research to design and construct a customer-centric humanized insurance UX/CX. The personalized claims experience and the personalized buying experience are the two major touchpoints in the insurance customer journey.

According to a Capgemini survey, eight in ten consumers are willing to pay more for improved customer service. According to Accenture’s Global Insurance Consumer Study, 69% of customers would give major data on their health, exercise, and driving habits in exchange for lower insurance rates, and 66% would also disclose significant data for personalized services to reduce injury and loss. Good customer service frequently results in returning business and referrals to friends and family.

CX Trends in Insurance: Right Implementation from Best Insurtech Companies

1. Lemonade

Lemonade is a digital-only insurer with a web & mobile platform. The platform offers:

● Chatbot-powered conversational policy purchase process

● Renter’s insurance within the app

● Car insurance is based on driving habits

● Easy switching from other insurers to Lemonade

● AI-assisted claim review and instant payment

● Option to donate unclaimed premiums to the charity of choice

2. Metromile

Metromile is the leading pay-per-mile car insurance in the US offering personalized digital insurance services. The platform offers:

● Rates are based on the user’s driving habits

● Telematics devices that plug into the car’s diagnostics port and driver’s mobile phone to get data on car usage for better CX

● AI-assisted claim review system

● Access to a nearby garage, vehicle rentals, etc. to get back on the road in case of an accident

3. Beam Dental

Beam Digital is a digital-first, preventive-focused dental insurance offering simplified digital insurance benefits. It offers:

● Electric brush connects to their app to help track and improve brushing habits

● Gamified dental care turns good brushing habits into rewards and savings

● Nearby dentist and hospital search

● Online access to coverage and plan information 24/7

4. Luko

It’s a digital home and real estate insurance app offering prevention, comprehensive coverage, maintenance, and repair. It offers:

● Damage assessment by an expert through a video call

● Access to free services to fix damages and a network of certified skilled workers to get advice through video calls to help with minor repairs

● Partnership with quality smart home device service providers and offers a discount on insurance if security solutions are used

● To donate unclaimed premiums to causes chosen by users

5. Thimble

It’s an on-demand business insurance platform made to serve small businesses and self-employed. The offerings include

● Buy a policy online, in the app, or over the phone instantly

● Customized insurance coverage by hours, days, months, or years

● Flexible payment options for premium

● Options to change, pause, or cancel policy anytime

● No direct claim handling hassle as they are handled by underwriting partners

At Robosoft, we have partnered with enterprises across the spectrum of financial services – insurance, digital banking, payment, lending, and more. We craft digital solutions that simplify lives and delight customers seamlessly across consumer touchpoints.

In Conclusion

In order to win the hearts and loyalty of digital customers and remain relevant in the future, insurers must first foster a transformation culture and customer excellence culture to position towards delivering value to customers and solving their real problems.

This will allow them to evolve from “detect and repair” to “predict and prevent”. It also implies making use of the possibilities that emerging technologies bring. This involves upgrading service channels, adopting, developing, and leveraging new technologies, tackling legacy systems, leaving behind inefficient processes, changing company culture, and shifting mindsets.

Digital is a key battleground in the experience economy, with significant opportunities for those that delight consumers. Let’s get to work and simplify digital experiences and the lives of consumers.

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Retail

The Role of Tech in Last Mile Delivery: Integrated Approach is Key

In his book, ‘Measure what matters’, the venture capitalist John Doerr said famously ‘Ideas are easy. Execution is everything’. In business, last mile delivery of virtually any idea, especially in services sector is akin to getting the execution right. In retail, it is even more critical as it refers to the last leg of a package’s journey; from the time it is picked up at the transportation hub to when it reaches the customer. We can say that while first impressions matter, this is a powerful moment for brands to make a lasting impression. Not surprisingly enterprises are betting on last-mile delivery to be quick, smooth, and as frictionless as possible.

As online buying continues to boom, the environment is one of intense competition. Exclusive offers, online buyer engagement, delivery times, and easy returns are important differentiators and factors influencing customer loyalty. That’s why a streamlined and cost-effective delivery process can promote brand affinity and become a business edge.

Tech that collaboration

Technology is the fundamental enabler of this entire last-mile segment, now an industry of its own. Estimated at USD 40.5 Billion in 2021, the global last mile delivery market is predicted to return revenues of USD 123.7 Billion in 2030.

In every delivery aspect of e-commerce, technology is already bridging the demand-supply gap between the seller and buyer through innovative solutions and services. For instance, specialized and affordable, online, on-demand services like Postmates, Deliveroo, DoorDash have truly gone the extra mile to help smaller, local retailers in overcoming the delivery limitations of global logistics giants such as UPS and FedEx.

Technology interventions also enable opportunities for retailers to experiment with delivery models, innovative solutions, and collaborations to create market differentiation and optimize costs. When fast-food chains like Domino’s and McDonald’s built in-house delivery capabilities, they turned to technology to orchestrate online customer experience, automate order taking, and coordinate driver delivery, giving them greater control over the delivery experience. Emerging technologies continue to redefine the last mile segment, offering businesses new ways to evolve all the time.

Here are some innovative technology solutions that truly stretch the possibilities of the last mile for ecommerce players and delivery service providers:

• Drones complement autonomous delivery modes

The use of drones to deliver packages has immense potential to solve last-mile reach and challenges of speed and cost, while also offering an environmentally safe and sustainable option to ground-based delivery vehicles like trucks or cars. In 2021, retail giant Walmart partnered with DroneUp, a global leader in drone technology, to launch multiple airport hubs that would cater to delivery on demand. Today, Zipline’s drones drop off medicines and healthcare products in parts of the US as well as the remote corners of Ghana and Rwanda.

• Bots which help buyers

While home delivery bots are not yet fully autonomous, they are drawing a lot of investor attention. Starship Technologies is one example; the company uses self-driven delivery bots that can cover short distances, moving at pedestrian speed to deliver parcels, groceries, and food. They have successfully fulfilled millions of orders around the world without human intervention. Domino’s partnership with robotics company, Nuro is another example where bots deliver pizzas.

• On-the-go traceability and route optimization through GPS

GPS technology has been the foundation of the last-mile delivery segment. Using GPS tracking for customer orders not only helps the retailer/fleet service provider track the number of orders out for delivery but also optimize the number of drivers deployed, chart faster routes and service pending orders. In fact, driver management and route optimization by robust algorithms are making a huge difference in improving operational efficiencies and reducing fuel consumption. A delightful benefit of tracking technology is that customers are able to see where exactly their order is, and delivery staff can coordinate directly, reducing the load on operations teams and customer service. Static optimizers which create one-time optimal routes for delivery can become ‘dynamic’ by taking into account real-time traffic scenario of the area and re-adjusting the route.

Technology is set to play an even bigger part in transforming last mile delivery

While millions of stores have rapidly adopted technology, they have not completely eliminated last-mile challenges like cost and process inefficiencies. Traditional retailers need to make additional investments to match up to the popularity of direct-to-consumer brands who have ready access to mature last-mile solutions and logistics service providers.

They need to choose from the wide array of technologies available to them, to understand the capability and benefits, as well as the integration, scalability and security challenges of each.

Besides GPS, which is the backbone of last mile delivery to customers, it’s also important to integrate technologies that link up the warehousing and storage aspects with the delivery to customer service sector.

Like the RFID tags popular in warehousing for tracking inventory, barcode and QR code are set to play a key role in last mile delivery wherein the delivery person scans the code that sets off a notification and status update corresponding to it. Feedback links can be sent to the customer so that they are fully engaged during the last-mile journey of the package.

Sensors are proving to be a cost-effective means to are being delivered. They can also be strategically used in automating certain processes of warehouse management, which is now a critical area as retailers scramble to fulfil reduced turnaround times.

Using GPS live tracking for customer orders will not only help the retailer/fleet service provider track the number of orders out for delivery but also optimize the number of drivers deployed and available to service pending orders. Here too last mile fleet solutions like GPS and Google Maps Platform are helping ensure the end-user is able to track and review the last leg of order fulfilment.

Technology is also available to help the system to accurately pick the item from the nearest store in which it is available thus speeding up the process. These include pick indicator systems, which could be voice- or light-operated that locate the item and apprise the system accordingly. Smart glasses like the ones offered by Google Glass are making their way into warehouses helping operators locate, pick, and place the item(s) for delivery.

Last mile delivery software and cloud capabilities embedded in shipping will help optimize routes and direct delivery operators with updated information and maps throughout the journey. The software eliminates guesswork by mapping routes based on actual data of traffic jams, road repairs, detours, weather forecasts etc. and thus, averts stressful traffic situations and delays for drivers.

Technology at each stage of last mile delivery

Designing the UX for the last mile in retail needs business insight and user contexts

The ecosystem of the last mile is like the players of a complex symphony in which technology plays the role of an orchestrator – bringing together the warehouse, the products and inventory, the delivery staff and the customers. It unifies and coordinates the roles of different players who come with deep understanding of their specific domains and processes. Therefore, designing any application in the last-mile must draw from the needs of the multiple users – the warehousing staff, fleet operators and drivers, delivery staff, customer service staff and of course, the customer.

To start with, they’ll need to design apps and websites that have the right architectural framework, audience connect and personalization with end-users, and integrate seamlessly with last mile delivery platforms and warehousing. Like ecommerce giants such as Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba, and Otto, they must capitalize on technological advances to enhance the overall customer experience and secure their brand loyalty.

McDelivery Case Study by Robosoft

Here, thoughtful design that draws its information from technology, can play a crucial role in addressing changing expectations and needs of modern buyers while ensuring the last-mile-delivery platform is set up in a way that facilitates fast, frictionless, and enduring experiences.

Typically, last mile delivery can be split into four main stages based on which design of the user interface can be developed by strategically thinking and mapping the various aspects and requirements of each stage.

Stage 1: Goods are picked up from the warehouse based on order requests that need to be delivered to the end users.
Stage 2: Routes are optimized, and delivery personnel allocated to fulfil the order.
Stage 3: Tracking of orders to avert any losses along the route.
Stage 4: At the drop location, the fulfilment of order needs to be verified.

At each stage, design thinking uses insights from technology to play an important role in ensuring seamless and smooth order fulfilment. At stage 1, for example, it needs to pivot around aspects such as:

• What is the type of delivery?
o Regular
o Refrigerated – medicines, blood, organs, food perishables- end to end cold chain

• What are the possible delivery methods?
o Delivery person/van/bot
o Drones (remote places, urgent deliveries, small payloads)

• What are the delivery options?
o Home delivery
o Kerbside delivery
o Pickup at nearest showroom/center

At stage 2, specific design considerations must be made. One essential design feature is for checking the end user’s availability at the time of drop so that the delivery route is worked out based on availability.

At stage 3, the tracking feature must be embedded in the design to ensure the delivery proceeds as per schedule and any changes or detours are noted, and updates are provided to the end user accordingly.

At stage 4, design needs to consider the delivery option chosen. For example,
• In case of kerbside delivery, the facility to generate a QR code must be embedded so that items can be matched with the customer’s details.
• If C.O.D is included, then a feature to collect inputs on the customer’s availability must be included.

The technology behind last mile can be anything from autonomous delivery modes using robots, drones to big data analytics and forecasting using IoT systems, connected vehicles, sensors, and even smart dust. All of them want to remove any cause of friction, delays, and unnecessary expenses in this all-important phase of delivery.

With thoughtful design, countless innovation possibilities unlocked by technology will come alive for ecommerce businesses – from industry leaders to freshly sprung entities. And so, they can aspire to breach the last mile while guaranteeing the last impression of the brand is as good as the first.

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Artificial Intelligence

Conversational AI breaks through user barriers – Designing a fulfilling conversation is key

Hey Alexa, what is conversational AI? If you’ve ever interacted with a virtual assistant like Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant, then you’ve experienced conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI). These game-changing automated messaging and speech-enabled applications have permeated every walk of life, creating human-like interactions between computers and humans. From checking your appointments and carrying out bank transactions, to tracking the status of your food or delivery order and learning the names of songs, conversational AI will soon be playing a lead role in your digital interactions.

So, how does Conversational AI work?

Users interact with conversational AI through text chats or voice. Simple FAQ chatbots require specific terms to derive responses from their knowledge bank. However, applications based on conversational AI are far more advanced – they can understand intent, provide responses in context, and learn and improve over time. While conversational AI is the umbrella term, there are underlying technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Natural Language Generation (NLG) that enable text-based interactions. In the context of voice, additional technologies such as Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and text-to-speech software enable the computer to “talk” like a human.

Conversational AI process

Imagine you give a command to a conversational AI application to track your order. This input could either be spoken or text. If spoken, the ASR converts the spoken phrases into machine-readable language. Once converted by ASR, the application then moves into the NLP stage, where it first uses NLU to understand the context and intent of the message. Based on this, a response is formed through a dialogue management system and generated into an understandable format by NLG. The response is then either delivered in text, or in the case of voice, converted to speech through text-to-speech software. All this happens in a matter of seconds, to get the information you need about the status of your order.

Conversational AI will create a real and personal relationship between humans and technology

As our world becomes more digital, conversational AI can enable seamless communication between humans and machines, with interactions that are an integral part of daily life. Besides improved user engagement, conversational assistants allow round-the-clock business accessibility and reduce manual errors in sharing information. They reduce the dependency on people for multi-lingual support and enable inclusion by removing literacy barriers. The benefits and potential of conversational AI are inviting businesses and technology to make heavy investments in the space.

Sales, service and support have been early adopters of conversational AI, because of the structured nature of information exchange that these functions require. This has decreased query resolution times, reduced the dependence on human agents and provided the opportunity for 24/7 sales and service. The AI chatbots are even able to deliver recommendations on purchases based on personalized customer preferences. According to Gartner, chatbots and conversational agents will raise and resolve a billion service tickets by 2030.

Across sectors, conversational AI is transforming interactions between people and systems. The banking sector is banking on conversational AI to provide a superior experience through transactions such as providing balance information, paying bills, marketing offers and products and so on, all without human intervention. The insurance sector is using chatbots to help customers choose a policy, submit documents, handle customer queries, renew policies and more. The healthcare sector is using these chatbots to check patient symptoms, schedule appointments, maintain patients’ medical data, and share medication and routine check-up reminders. Automobiles are becoming a cockpit for personal AI assistants or in-car experiences.

Businesses are also using conversational AI to manage their own workforce and improve the employee experience. Through chatbots, they make vital information available to employees 24/7, reducing the need for human resources to manage queries and processes. The possibilities and opportunities with conversational AI are endless and use cases are available in every industry.

Overcoming user frustration with Conversational AI through better engineering and design

While there are several benefits to conversational AI, you might be familiar with many instances when the conversation ends in frustration. As AI technology evolves and matures, these challenges must be addressed at the design and engineering stage.

In terms of design, the success of the platform entirely hinges on user interface and experience. It must be easy to use, intuitive, and must fit seamlessly into the overall design of the application and customer journey. While UI is important, the conversation itself is the most critical aspect. It is important to ensure that the conversational design flows smoothly, follows well-tested and widely applicable patterns and has exception rules inbuilt into the script design.

The more human-like the conversation is, the better the user’s acceptance

  • Draw from real life – To design a fulfilling conversation, architects and UX designers must draw from real-life, and UX design principles. The product has to be designed for ease of use, ease of conversation and ease of resolution. The product has to be easily findable, accessible and usable to the user in the overall product ecosystem. This can be achieved by following time-tested UI and UX principles in developing visual or auditory experiences.
  • Build trust – To build trust in conversational AI, small talk or playful ways to engage with the AI can be built into the engagement.
  • Understand the target audience – Understanding the target audience and their needs is pivotal to the success of conversational AI. An in-depth study of the demographics helps in building a platform that is unbiased. Incorporating languages, accents and cultural nuances allows the user to relate better and enable smoother interactions.
  • Solve customer problems, not business problems – A deep understanding of the customer ensures that the conversation design is solving for the customer, rather than solving for the business problem. When the focus is on the business problem, the is a possibility of ignoring the human-like flow of interaction. Putting the customer first helps in building a valuable and desirable interface that is a win-win for both the customer and the business. It is also important to ask what the system will help resolve and design the conversation to ensure the most frequent use cases for the application are solved logically and seamlessly. Bad AI chatbot conversationExample of a bad AI chatbot interaction
  • Recover from lagging conversations – The AI bot must also have the ability to learn from mistakes, recover from broken conversations and redirect to human agents when conversations cannot be fulfilled through AI. This has to be designed seamlessly into the interface, ensuring the customers trust the system and come back to use it in the future.

Engineering can help provide human-like interaction

  • The systems have to be able to deal with noisy settings and decipher languages, dialects, accents, sarcasm, and slang that could influence intent in the conversation. Intense data training, larger varied datasets, language training and machine learning (ML) could solve these challenges as the technology matures.
  • Another concern with conversational AI is data privacy and protection. To gain user trust, security must be paramount and all regional privacy laws must be adhered to.
  • Backend integration of conversational AI platforms may decide their success or failure in the market. The platform must integrate with CRM, after-sales, ticketing, databases, analytics systems and so on, to get appropriate data for the user, and provide appropriate data to the business.
  • Finally, the AI system should be backed by analytics and data, so that data scientists have invaluable insights to continuously improve the system.

Conversational AI is growing at an incredible pace and at a massive scale. This is because of the immense possibility that conversational AI has to bridge the gap between humans and technology. There is vast demand also due to the efficiencies and cost savings that conversational AI can offer businesses with quick, accurate and effortless query resolution. Businesses across industries should leverage this technology of the future to deliver a consistent and superior user experience.

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