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It wasn’t too long ago that receiving a claim required a lot of time on the phone or in the office with your client, followed by an involved sequence of steps to validate, approve and payout said claim. Necessary, certainly, and it gave insurance professionals considerable face time with our clients, but the whole process could be tedious, time-consuming and cumbersome.
Today, we find ourselves facing a new normal and, some might say, a new challenge. Consumers only need a smart phone and a mobile app to make a claim, cars are self-regulating and safer by design, and the point of sale has moved from the office to the internet. Technology is revolutionizing how consumers engage with insurers, but that doesn’t mean that the need for a human touch is gone. In fact, I’d argue that in this new connected ecosystem, insurers have to be closer to their customers than ever before.
Let’s look at an example.
Our homes are no longer passive dwellings, they’re “smart homes” with doors, faucets, lights and TVs that are remotely managed and controlled via Wi-Fi or mobile technology. As smart homes become smarter, insurers will have an opportunity to take a proactive role in this new, insurance ecosystem. By combining the data from the home’s devices and leveraging the power of big data and analytics, insurers can predict the likelihood of incidents based on sudden fluctuations or spikes in usage data.
The “smart insurer” can then alert customers – via a multitude of channels, e.g. a message to the consumer’s smart phone or smart watch, a phone call, etc. — to these issues and, hopefully, avoid a problem and the resulting claim. Imagine helping your client fix a hot water heater before it burst? Or advising them to turn off the faucet before the sink flooded? In this new relationship, the customer isn’t coming to the insurer to submit a claim. Rather, the insurer is going to the customer to prevent a claim in real-time, saving both time and money for insurer and insured. The “smart insurer” will also build and leverage its partner ecosystem to help the customer get the right level of maintenance and/or repair services, making it even easier for the insured to avoid that claim. It’s the perfect mix of technology and the “human touch” and it actually helps to establish a personal relationship with your customer, not to mention brand loyalty.
The 3Cs of Digital Customer Interaction
We believe that the way to prosper in this new digital insurance ecosystem is to adopt what we call the 3Cs, making sure that your interactions with the client are Consistent, Contextualized and Collaborative. Let me break these apart to explain them a bit further:
The number of channels, e.g. online, mobile, etc., to which a customer has access, has skyrocketed in recent years. Being able to integrate these channels is critical for delivering a consistent and seamless customer experience. For example, any customer should be able to interact with the insurer and complete any transaction at any time on their preferred channel – web, mobile, customer support center or by walking into an agent’s office. The level of experience the insurer provides the consumer cannot be any less than “exceptional” on any of these channels. And, more importantly, any information fed into a direct self-service channel should be made available via all other channels and to the sales team or customer support center, making it possible for the always connected consumer to start a transaction on one channel and finish it as they transition onto a different channel.
Equally as important is the overlay of contextualization. What Apple, Google and Amazon have taught every consumer is that the information they get in response to a query/search is contextualized specifically for them. But, without the insurance agent, who knew everything about their customer, the direct to consumer channel insurers face the challenge of losing this contextualization in their interactions. Insurers can bring the “human touch” back to the customer experience, even if the agent is not physically present, by drilling down to the segment of one and understanding the specific needs and situation of each individual customer. With this data in hand, engagement can be personalized, services can be customized and, overall, your customers will feel as though they have a one-to-one relationship with their insurer.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, in this connected world, collaboration is key to success. The “smart home” example demonstrates that collaboration will happen not just between you and your customer, but also within your partner ecosystem. This is the key to exceptional customer service. Clients are no longer just passive recipients of an insurance product; they are now actually part of the process of creating and refining those products and services, so that they get exactly the insurance and coverage they need.
The 3Cs are a spring board for creating meaningful, technology fueled connections. Through them your company can take utmost advantage of what we call “combinatorial innovation,” where multiple technologies are coming together to fundamentally change the way we do business. It’s a tremendous opportunity for us, as insurers, and I look forward to exploring it with you further in forthcoming articles as we consider the role of data analytics and the importance of simplification.