Canadian Underwriter

This brokerage’s new guy works 24-7

July 29, 2019   by Greg Meckbach

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Lead generation was one reason Archway Insurance set up a chatbot to answer basic questions for Internet users.

“Welcome to Archway. What brought you here today?” is how Archie, the firm’s artificial intelligence-driven chatbot, greets Internet users when they browse Archway’s website.

“It is a new technology that we are still evaluating,” said Gina McFetridge, president of Amherst, N.N.-based Archway, in an interview.

Chatbots use natural language processing – a type of artificial intelligence – to provide answers to humans asking questions.

Archie is good at providing basic details such as Archway’s hours of operation, closest office and contact information, said McFetridge.

“From what I can see, (Archie) is an intermediary who can take care of some of those basic questions but ultimately he will be guiding the user to interact with one of our live brokers.”

Sometimes, a prospective customer is interested in buying a product, so Archie the chatbot puts the person in touch with one of Archway’s human brokers.

Archway has 31 offices in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

“Our offices are not open in the evening, so if someone comes home from work and they get the kids to bed and they decide at 10:00 at night to pop online and get auto insurance or home insurance, they visit our website,” said McFetridge. “There is not a human there to respond to them at that time, but they can provide most of their information that’s required to bind a policy. Then when we are in the office the next day, follow up with them and finalize the policy for them.”

Chatbots do not always know exactly what a person is asking.

Instead of saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you are thinking,” Archie is programmed to ask website visitors to rephrase a question if the computer does not have an answer ready, said McFetridge.

Sometimes there is a certain key word that is missing and if the question is re-phrased, the chatbot can answer the question for them.

“Any time a client asks a question, we have the opportunity to review the logs and see if the question was not answered to our satisfaction or Archie does not have the right answer, then we have the opportunity to program him so he can bet smarter as we go along.”

Along with Archway CEO Michael Stack, McFetridge is a finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year award program. Winners in the Atlantic program will be announced this Oct. 17 at a gala in Halifax. EY Canada also recently announced finalists in the Pacific, Prairies, Ontario and Quebec regions.

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