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As voice-enabled devices (like Alexa, Google Home, or Siri) continue to penetrate more and more households, there are tremendous opportunities for businesses to use these capabilities to better serve their customers.

These technologies can elevate the customer journey by using artificial intelligence (AI) to understand customer questions and to deliver tailored communications with greater speed and efficiency—all of which are increasingly important for customers who interact with businesses on a regular basis. In our own survey that we conducted in 2018, 61% of consumers reported that they are willing to share more of their data if it means receiving personalized communications that actually answer their questions.

Today, there's no excuse for even heavily regulated industries, like insurance, financial services, and healthcare, to avoid these opportunities. Instead, they should do everything they can to incorporate these emerging technologies into their modern customer communications strategies. While these industries may still wrestle with compliance challenges, the benefits of improving an organization's customer communications are undeniably valuable.

In fact, businesses across the insurance, financial services, and healthcare sectors are already reaping the rewards of voice and chatbot integration into their current customer experience strategies. Here are three ways firms across these industry verticals are implementing these emerging technologies while balancing regulatory requirements and limitations.

Insurers Can Maximize ROI with Personalized Communications

For insurers, a personalized voice or chatbot experience can help tackle large inquiry volumes and cut down on tedious claims processes. This can maximize return on investment (ROI) for the technology, improve customer service, and cut overhead costs. Recent data from Juniper Research shows that those organizations who use chatbots stand to save more than eight billion dollars annually by 2022. For example, Lemonade is a digital insurance provider that uses chatbot technology to help them sell inexpensive, tailored policies and settle customer claims in as little as three seconds. This helped Lemonade secure the largest share of first-time insurance buyers in the New York renters market.

Legacy Banking Will Finally Compete Despite Data Security Concerns

Despite efforts in the financial services sector, roughly 85% of millennials report they're still dissatisfied with their overall digital banking experience, according to a survey conducted by digital verification provider Jumio. This can be attributed to poor user experience/customer experience, lack of service options, and/or lack of integration with financial technology. Even though nearly a third of banking customers have used voice assistants to make a payment or send money, most traditional banks have yet to embrace the technology’s capabilities on a wider scale.

So, what are they waiting for? Security remains a major concern for banks even though most consumers are optimistic about voice-enabled banking. However, technologies like voiceprint, which uses biometrics to create a unique voice “print” for each customer, is turning the tide on data privacy concerns. In the last few years, TD Bank, Santander Bank, U.S. Bank, USAA, and others have all recognized the value proposition surrounding their voiceprint programs. USAA took its security measures a step further by limiting the customer communications capabilities in its Alexa Skill to minimize the potential for breaches. Bank of America has also seen resounding success when it announced last year that they surpassed one million users for its AI-enabled voice assistant Erica.

Healthcare Providers Can Deliver a Better Universal Patient Experience

Healthcare providers may have the most daunting hurdle for voice and chatbot adoption
—complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Since voice assistants do not have any agreements in place for HIPAA, developers must carefully ensure that none of the 18 designated patient identifiers are ever shared by their voice solutions in these channels.

Amazon and Google have invested in a voice-powered healthcare assistant called Aiva Health. This assistant allows patients to remain fully HIPAA-compliant while communicating with healthcare providers for questions related to the nearest physician clinics or urgent care centers and the like. In addition, health insurers Humana and Cigna Health report an increased adoption for their Alexa Skills, with the most common inquiries around health benefits or arranging reminders for physician appointments.

Healthcare institutions are also finding new ways to give patients the benefits of AI-enabled assistants without the threat of HIPAA penalties looming over them. For example, hospitals in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles have built and deployed their own voice programs, offering patients the ability to call a nurse, check ER wait times, set medication reminders, and, in some cases, keep them from getting lonely.

Voice assistants and chatbot integration will help insurance, financial services, healthcare providers, and other industries deliver more meaningful customer interactions in real time. As a result, brands will need to incorporate these emerging technologies into their overall customer communications strategy—in a way that considers both individual preferences and recent interactions.

James Brown has more than 25 years of software experience. As the CEO of Smart Communications, he brings deep expertise in leading high-growth software-as-a-service (SaaS) organizations and ensuring success among enterprise-level customers in highly regulated industries. For more information, visit or follow him on Twitter @JamesBrown_SC.