How Point Solutions are Killing Customer Experience

When paired with the powerful capabilities of BPM, rapid application development platforms bind disparate best-of breed systems.

(Image credit: Adobe Stock.)

It’s natural for clients to expect customer service reps (CSRs), supervisors and managers, or even personnel from another department to know about them on an inbound call or service request. Expectations are high for immediate access to call records or transcripts, details of any existing product portfolio, and perhaps even suggestions for additional products which could be valuable or helpful, right?

It’s natural, but it doesn’t always happen.

Specific to this industry, insurers have been building, buying and implementing best-of-breed or point solutions for not only core administration, but for analytics, customer relationship management (CRM), and enterprise content management (ECM), always intending to integrate. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen either, which makes the access and transparency needed for a positive customer experience nearly impossible to achieve.

If the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, perhaps it’s time for the insurance industry to stop relying on what worked in the past, and look to the future.

It Sounded Good at the Time

On paper, point solutions make sense. In order to solve a very specific problem, an equally specific solution is needed. If an insurer simply needs better insights into workflows, processes or producers, it’s illogical to go out and buy an entire replacement suite or facsimile thereof. Such suite facsimiles are created when vendors take point solutions and acquire other complementary point solutions, bolting them onto the original or base unit without complete integration. It’s a patchwork approach in which, unfortunately, the glued together pieces never equal a whole. The same goes for solving CRM, ECM, and billing issues. Patching holes can work as a short-term solution, however, over time it results in a disjointed IT architecture of solutions incapable of interoperability. In many situations, a lack of governance over IT solutions—and who has authority to make modifications—makes this problem even worse, further enhancing the siloed effect.

True Death for Customer Experience

First impressions aside, the point solution approach leaves insurers flying blind, with an inability to see data from one department to another, and therefore, unprepared to capitalize on opportunities or deliver the much-desired seamless customer experience. Customers at any snapshot stage of the insurance process—new customer application, renewal, changes to coverage or benefits, and even claims—are conditioned to expect more attention to detail, and highly-personalized recommendations on ways to manage benefits, increase income or improve coverage and pricing. Any given insurance company employee, unfortunately, typically sees only one slice of data. And that means, at best, customers are often shuffled from contact to contact, each able to address only a niche portion of the problem, before passing the customer off to the next isolated department.

No More Need for Rip and Replace

In order to circumvent the IT and data silo problem so prolific in this industry, insurers have most commonly turned to rip and replace projects focused on core administration systems, but these broad scale, wide-ranging replacements aren’t usually able to deliver precise solutions to actual business problems. And, while core administration system implementations can absolutely be customized or altered to fit a specific insurer’s situation, it is not always the best approach. High degrees of core administration system customization decrease an insurer’s ability to take advantage of regular upgrades from the solution vendor. Insurers typically turn to rip and replace projects for a shot at greater integration, better communication, and opportunities for collaboration, but wind up with a polyglot installation of best-of-breed or point solutions which only reinforce existing silos.

Instead, insurers are turning to a new way to improve processes using a micro-app approach.  When founded on a rapid application development platform, this approach can help insurers incrementally solve problems, connect established silos, and extend the life and value of existing IT investments, without the extended time and risk involved in rip and replace.

Conclusion

When paired with the powerful capabilities of business process management (BPM) rapid application development platforms bind disparate best-of breed systems. Such modern solutions offer insurers the ability to quickly build apps which draw data from the long-lost corners of existing legacy systems. These apps become the glue that binds systems together, the wiring that allows them to communicate seamlessly, avoid unnecessary rip and replace projects, and turn the corner toward a more positive insurance customer experience.

Eileen Potter // Eileen Potter is the industry marketing manager for insurance for Appian. She can be reached for further comment or information via email at eileen.potter@appian.com.

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