- Geico has launched "Kate," a virtual assistant for its mobile app, according to a company press release. Kate helps app users navigate features and can answer basic questions like, "Do you want to know the current balance on your auto insurance policy?;" or, "What about the date of your next payment?"
- Geico mobile app users can initiate a conversation with Kate either by text or voice, and the technology was designed to emulate a measure of personality by answering more personal questions as well. Kate is already available on the iOS Geico app and is expected to roll out to Android early this year.
- "Interactive voice assistant technology has altered the way customers interact with their mobile devices," said Pete Meoli, Geico mobile and digital experience director, in a statement. "Kate is very intuitive and has been programmed to connect with policyholders at a deeper level."
Chatbot and adjacent virtual assistant technologies hold a lot of potential for brands looking to connect with consumers via apps and social media, especially at the customer service level. However, many offerings in the space still prove more frustrating than functional as the capabilities of bots are very much in the early stage, and Forrester Research highlighted the prevalence of unrealistic expectations being set for bot conversations last year.
"AI is not ready to work miracles or generate magical experiences for customers on its own," the report said. "AI-based chatbots are like seeds. You plant them, but then you need to feed them with high volumes of consumer interaction so they grow."
By keeping Kate within its own app ecosystem, Geico has more control over the user experience as well as the bot's underlying technology. The assistant might be able to make more direct connections, drawing on Geico's existing transaction and policy data and garnering new information in similar fields as it holds conversations with more customers.
Having full control over its assistant rather than deploying it on a third party platform could ultimately help Geico overcome some issues other chatbots have encountered as they've grown in use but not necessarily "learned" as quickly as some hoped.