InterviewInterview with Founder and CEO, Insurmi – Sonny Patel

FTB News Desk FTB News DeskFebruary 5, 202018 min
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Sonny Patel Founder and CEO, Insurmi

Sonny Patel is the founder & CEO at Insurmi, a U.S. digital life insurance agency making the process of buying coverage easier for consumers through technology.

1. Tell us about your role in Insurmi?
I am the founder and CEO of Insurmi, an innovative conversational AI solution built specifically for the insurance industry to enhance the customer experience. In this role, I oversee our company’s strategic growth, support the continual development of our ever-growing team, and regularly speak at industry events about how advanced technology will enable insurance companies to meet the customer experience demands of future generations.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I started the company three years ago when I was 21 and completing my senior year in college. At the time, I was working at a life insurance agency, primarily focused on growth, sales, marketing, and operations efficiencies. It was in this role, I realized the process of selling and buying life insurance was complex, outdated, and not consumer-friendly. Much of the process was still taking place offline. Then it clicked –– if insurance companies are to thrive in the future and capture the up-and-coming and future generations, they’d need to meet them where they are: online. This idea evolved into Insurmi, which today is a conversational AI technology that empowers insurers to enhance the customer experience by streamlining support and service.

3. How do you think technology is developing the insurance sector?
Today, there’s a big focus on how technology can improve the customer experience and deliver more value. That said, it will take time to roll out these advancements considering many insurance companies are using antiquated legacy systems. So the real challenge the insurance sector is currently facing (on the technology front) is not that it lacks the means to integrate these digital tools, but rather how to implement the right solution at the right time.

With so many stakeholders to consider, modernizing without creating industry-wide disruption is top of mind.

4. How has the integration of AI empowered the insurance sector?

Harnessing AI-driven solutions is empowering the insurance sector to completely uplevel its customer experience game – especially when it comes to engaging with millennial consumers.

Soon, millennials will account for 75% of the global market, and if the insurance industry isn’t meeting them where they are (online) and with real-time solutions, it will have a significant impact on the industry’s long-term outlook. Additionally, AI helps insurance companies solve pain points millennials associate with buying a policy or filing a claim by helping take the guesswork out of the more complex aspects of these processes. This ties into a current big focus in the insurance industry – shifting from simply providing products and policies to delivering value and impact. By better understanding the ever-evolving consumer behavior and meeting them where they are, insurance companies will be in a better position to deliver on that mission. And advanced technologies like conversational AI are really what’s enabling that.

5. Can you explain how bots help insurance professionals in obtaining better customer engagement and satisfaction?
Consumers across all generations want to engage with brands and they want access to solutions on their terms. While that fundamental desire hasn’t changed, the way in which it can be delivered has. Chatbots, specifically contextual chatbots, help connect today’s consumers on their terms while communicating with them through the devices and channels they’re already using. They provide 24-hour service, resolve complaints quickly, and provide instant responses – which is all anyone really wants. And their ability to convey human emotion and execute judgment-intensive tasks has helped garner them more trust and enhance digital experiences overall. On the other side, it’s also enabling insurance companies to better understand consumer behavior as these technologies gain more intelligence. This information can be used to inform customer service, user experience and product decisions, which produces a win-win for all stakeholders.

6. How does your technology help organizations in customer acquisition?
Our conversational AI interface, Violet, serves as a virtual assistant that is programmed to communicate with both current and potential policyholders. She helps make the insurance-buying process more human and more relatable, which carries a lot of weight when attracting prospective customers. Violet serves as a point person for answering questions about products and plans, matching customers with the right solutions, starting policy applications, filing claims, and offering help desk support without any human intervention.

7. What features of your digital engagement platform makes it a perfect fit for insurance organizations?
Violet is a perfect fit for an industry as complex as the insurance space primarily because, as a conversational AI interface, she has the scalable capabilities of machine learning. This means she is able to perform thousands of multi-turn conversations spanning a variety of use cases, all while becoming more efficient and more knowledgeable over time without human assistance. Essentially, Violet strikes the right balance between utility and companion. This goes a long way in building trust among consumers. Violet is also able to provide customer support at all hours, which is essential in the insurance industry where the unexpected can happen at any moment.

8. What advice would you like to give to the startups?
My advice is to be passionate about solving the problem, rather than the solution. If you fully understand the pain points your startup is solving, it will help you to stay focused on what you do well. However, when you start with the solution –– a trap I see a lot of startup founders fall into –– and pour all of your resources into building that solution, it’s easy to overlook the true problem you were aiming to solve and get emotionally attached to the thing you’ve built. This will ultimately inhibit your ability to pivot and find a winning solution that allows you to meet true product-market fit.

9. Which startup technology has grabbed your attention?
Zapier, hands down. It’s an incredibly valuable tool that connects all of your digital tools to help you build automation in your workflow. I can’t operate without it.

10. How do you prepare for a technology-centric world?
It’s tough to stay at the forefront of the rapidly developing tech world, so I try to remain in a state of mind where I’m continuously open to learning new things. If you’re committed to educating yourself on what’s coming down the pike, you’ll find it easier to get ahead in the long run.

11. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
They’re truly the ones who make the magic happen. Not only are they my greatest champions, but they are also essential to fulfilling Insurmi’s vision, which is to make the insurance customer experience more relatable. They enable me to do what I do best while they do what they do best. It’s a winning combination.

12. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent times?
We are currently focused on bringing Violet to market. Our success –– not only as a company, but as an industry –– hinges on making the capabilities of AI-powered digital solutions, like Violet, more well known as they are poised to have a tremendous, long-term impact in how we connect and engage with customers.

13. Which book are you reading these days?
I mainly read articles these days but I’m currently reading Andrew Yang’s The War on Normal People. It’s about how blue-collar jobs are being replaced by automation and AI and how this will impact the US economy in the future. It’s fascinating so far.

14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, we won’t mind having a look at some of the pictures?
Interview with Founder and CEO, Insurmi – Sonny Patel 1

15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
Absolutely! These are currently the ones I use the most:

  • Superhuman – I would recommend everyone to have this
  • Slack
  • Google Calendar
  • LinkedIn
  • Apple Music
  • Instagram
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