- Progressive Insurance has launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger that lets consumers ask its fictional salesperson and brand mascot Flo questions about buying car insurance, according to a press release by the company. The Flo chatbot makes Progressive the first top-10 U.S. insurance company to start the auto insurance quoting process on Messenger.
- The chatbot, which is available at Flo, the Progressive Girl's page on Facebook, uses artificial intelligence to adapt and learn from consumer queries or statements likes "I would like to start an auto insurance quote." The bot also answers simple questions like "What is a deductible?" and "How much car insurance am I required to have?" to educate consumers on their insurance shopping journey.
- If the Flo chatbot can't answer a user's question, Messenger will hand over the conversation to a live Progressive representative who can respond by phone or private message. Flo has 4.8 million followers on Facebook, a platform which has 2 billion users worldwide.
Flo has been a memorable character since Progressive began featuring her (played by the actress Stephanie Courtney) in its advertising in 2008. Since then, Flo's appeared in more than 100 commercials for the auto insurer, so many consumers immediately associate her with the brand. The Flo chatbot provides a fun and useful way for consumers to interact with the fictional salesperson known for her mini-beehive hairstyle and white apron emblazoned with the Progressive logo. The key here is that the company is providing a valuable service on a convenient platform for consumers while still adding a splash of entertainment.
Auto insurers know that buying coverage can be a dreadful undertaking, which is why companies like Geico and its Gecko mascot promise to save consumers money in 15 minutes or less. The Flo chatbot is intended to hook prospective insurance buyers with the character's comic and quirky personality before handing them off to a live agent to close the deal. Geico earlier this year introduced a virtual assistant for it mobile app called "Kate" that offers similar services, answering basic questions like "Do you want to know the current balance on your auto insurance policy?"
While Messenger chatbots are still in the process of taking off since their introduction to the platform in April 2016, they're generating a decent amount of activity and engagement. About 1.2 billion entities talk on Messenger now, and not all of them are human, according to Forbes. More than 100,000 chatbots generate 2 billion messages with the people they engage every month.