Could Chatbots Replace Progressive Insurance’s Call Centers?

jpritchard    March 23, 2018

Major U.S. auto insurance provider Progressive may be best known for Flo, its iconic spokesperson. Flo is the funny, friendly face of Progressive Insurance and one of the best known commercial spokespersons. Her official Facebook page has 4.5 million followers and she has appeared in Progressive ads since 2008,

The company wanted to take advantage of customers increasing use of mobile channels to interact with its brand. So Progressive used Microsoft Azure Bot Service and Cognitive Services to build the Flo Chatbot, currently featured on Facebook Messenger, which answers customer questions, provides quotes and even offers a bit of banter in Flo’s well-known style.

Progressive has been selling auto insurance directly to customers on the internet since 1997, so the company has seen the online space grow and evolve. As mobile has become a more important channel, Progressive has looked for ways to use it to connect with customers who want easy, personal and reliable digital experiences. Progressive wanted to make sure that the bot had a distinct persona but could also redirect customers to a live agent when necessary. Matt White, Marketing Manager, Personal Lines Acquisition Experience, at Progressive says “It was important to recognize that there would be situations when customers need an ‘exit ramp’ where they could speak with a human, we didn’t want to pretend that the bot could do more than it can”.

Flo from Progressive

Typically replies instantly
It’s Jeff’s special day! I can help you with an auto quote, questions about your Progressive policy or just general insurance questions. Go on, try me!


Based on the company’s positive experience with the tools it plans to move to Flo Chatbot to more channels and introduce more features. So far, Progressive has relied mostly on organic activities to drive traffic to the Flo Chatbot. Word of mouth and Flo’s millions of Facebook followers are getting the job done. White says: “We’ve been very pleased with the steady engagement that we’ve seen to date, and we’re looking to see how that evolves in the months ahead”. Interactions with the Flo Chatbot show Progressive that the bot is a hit with customers. “People tell Flo ‘Thank you’ and ‘Thanks for the help’ and I think any time you see people thanking a bot, you’re on the right track” says White. “And of course we’ve trained the Flo Chatbot to say ‘You’re welcome’ because we want to continue that humanlike interaction right up until the end of the conversation.”

Lessons for Others

The advantages to customer service Chatbots are clear.

  1. Its always available, not constrained by time zones or holidays.
  2. Consistency and reliability of the message
  3. Cost savings – As the need for staffing call centers decreases.
  4. Chatbots only need to be trained once. Hiring and training new employees costs money.

As more companies come to embrace chat functions to complement or reduce human phone centers, human-to human chat conversations regarding basic questions will soon be a thing of the past. Over the next few years, Chatbots will become more prevalent, and as they evolve, work seamlessly with human customer support agents to provide efficient, personalized responses.


Organization: Progressive Insurance
Industry: Insurance
Name of Organization Contact: Matt White, Marketing Manager, Personal Lines Acquisition Experience

Authored by: J Pritchard

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