Humana harnesses artificial intelligence for competitive edge in customer service

AI

Humana is using artificial intelligence to identify poor member experiences in real-time--a move the company says enhances the ability of call center personnel to empathize with consumers.

As members call in to its customer service centers, Humana’s AI tool listens for signals of consumer frustration, such as a consumer’s elevated tone of voice or instances of the representative and the member talking over one another, according to a Wall Street Journal article. The AI bot, Cogito Dialog, then delivers instant feedback for the customer service agent to alter his or her strategy while on the phone.

That approach, says Humana director of customer experience Geeta Wilson, gives the Louisville, Kentucky-based insurer a cutting-edge competitive advantage, The nature of the calls usually concern a patient’s medical procedures and prescriptions--information demanding sensitivity and empathy that may be missing during interactions between health plans and members.

“A healthcare company has to have empathy and compassion," she says.

The technology builds on the first generation of AI bots that were trained to identify key words but couldn’t easily improve relations between customer service agents and members, the article notes. Wilson adds that moving forward, the company will work to forecast which types of calls get referred to managers before they happen.

Deploying artificial intelligence to improve consumer experience is another move that builds on Humana’s growing tech portfolio, which features the mobile app HumanaVitality in addition to a recent effort to streamline its digital marketing team to provide more precise resources to the company’s health plan members.

Humana is not the only insurer turning to tech to better engage with customers. Anthem ripped a page from Silicon Valley's book by creating a virtual reality-based customer immersion platform that allows employees to put themselves in patients' shoes--for example, by seeing what it would be like to have a child in the hospital.