There's Something About Mary - A Not So Virtual Chat

Meet Mary. She's 38 and a Midwestern mom of three. She is a protection specialist, an inspirational guide, a transparent navigator, and a humble coach who proactively plans and manages. She values and understands the importance of hard work. Okay ... but who is she?

She lives in a chat box within American Family Insurance's online presence and she's the "person" you want when you have a concern. 

It's working for AmFam, Bethany Harrington, associate VP, marketing engagement, told our Email Insider Summit on Tuesday. "Sixty-four percent of all intents are taken by Mary," she said. "Of that number, 85% are fully contained. Those are strong statistics for a chatbot."

AmFamMary's strengths are speed, anticipation, and memory. Harrington said she reduces wait time through an authentication process during verification. There are call center reps waiting to take over. They're triggered if a consumer's problems take more than 250 characters to explain.

She is also "one step ahead of a customer's needs," she said, "especially in the moment." Her memory includes voice recognition and appointment scheduling. Harrington said she could be in Alexa, Google Home or email.

Going forward, Harrington hopes to be able to attach an emoji to AmFamMary.

She recommends those considering creating chatbot to "start small, think conversationally, and test limits."

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