The state of Customer Experience (CX) transformation in insurance is less than impressive, to say the least. Insurers are lagging behind other financial services providers when it comes to digital transformation. Forrester went as far as to comment that: “Success among health insurers means being the best of the worst,” given that insurance CX ranks a 15th out of 19 categories in its report.
However, with customer expectations changing rapidly, it is vital to bring in digital technologies into the insurance sector. Your typical millennial prospect brings their experience with retailers such as Amazon or eBay, and service providers such as Uber or Lyft, when buying insurance. There s/he faces a major roadblock. Policy underwriting and application rarely happens in real-time, claims are a protracted process, and prospects often choose to terminate services rather than stay on with a dissatisfying provider.
To bridge this dissonance between customer requirement and provider capabilities, insurers must actively try to “catch up” and offer world-class CX. This involves:
- Near real-time applications and policy disbursal
- Integrated processing allowing first-attempt-payment for claims
- Mobile support, enabling submissions anytime, anywhere, specifically useful in case of natural disasters or other emergencies
As the insurance industry looks at standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other providers in terms of CX, mobile integration is the first foundational step. This can be followed up by more advanced overlays such as data analytics, visualization, and even AI to auto-assess for claims validity.
To get started on this journey, insurers must start at the beginning, with a three-step methodology:
1. Paperless Transactions at The Back-Office: Change, as they say, always starts within. A digitalized front-end would be impossible to sustain unless supported by an automated back-office function. Insurers should adopt technologies like optical character recognition, which help to digitize unstructured data. This will allow customers to share documents in a convenient image format from their smartphones, reducing processing timelines significantly.
2. Digitalized Workflows for Faster Approvals: Because insurance processes require approvals from a large number of stakeholders, customers are left waiting, without any visibility or control. Digital workplace tools such as e-signatures and e-forms can shrink week-long processes to a few hours. Modern e-signature solutions come with robust compliance support, while e-forms are getting continuously more powerful in terms of document compatibility.
3. Sophisticated Collaboration Tools for Both Internal and External Stakeholders: Real-time interactions between consumers and their agents have long been the bedrock of CX in insurance. This, traditionally, takes place telephonically -- the channel with the widest possible reach and accessibility. To meet the needs of new-age users, it is vital for insurers to now progress onto digital platforms. A web-based portal that lets customers track their application status, chat with their agent mediated by bots, allows easy downloads of important documents, and shares a detailed activity history will help keep customers in the loop. Imagine a mobile app that tracks your pizza delivery -- the same concept, built on immediacy and visibility, applies to insurance as well.
The Truth about CX and What It Means
There’s a clear dissonance between interest and implementation, around customer experience transformation in the insurance sector. On the one hand, there is immense hype around disruptive technologies such as AI and Blockchain, and how they will turn existing insurance models on their heads. On the other hand, providers continue to rely on legacy contact centers and large scale human efforts for daily activities. This, obviously, translates into delays, confusing timelines, and a high degree of inconvenience for the customer.
That’s why providers must begin with the basics and initiate back-office automation, before anything else. Over the long term, this will spread across other functions and divisions, leading to a comprehensive transition from legacy systems, “leapfrogging” into a whole, new world.