Rapid advances in technology, the continuing talent shortage and rising customer expectations for experiences of all types have disrupted the insurance industry over the last several years, challenging carriers to evolve their service strategies and business processes accordingly (Technology Flexibility Matters for Growing Insurance Companies). Doing things the way they’ve always been done is no longer an acceptable option; those who fail to adapt risk losing customers and market share.
It’s time for carriers to embrace innovation, leveraging technology to set their organizations up for future success. There are three key areas to watch as strategies and roadmaps are planned for this year and beyond.
The digitization of customer service
The notable shift in customer preference toward purchasing policies online has prompted an increase in digital transformations. As carriers work toward modernizing their technology, more will also look to modernize their approach to customer service.
Expect more carriers to invest in the tools necessary to meet customers where they are within the digital domain, without interrupting the experience in favor of clumsy phone experiences, to help answer questions and resolve issues as they arrive.
By embracing a digital-first approach to customer service, customer service representatives can meet their customers where they are and communicate with them through whichever methods they prefer, including chat, voice and video, using CoBrowsing as needed to guide them (see about Big Data in Insurance).
Platforms that enable a seamless experience with the ability to transition across digital channels can greatly enhance customer satisfaction, lower abandonment and boost conversions.
The agent experience has become a strategic priority
Just as there is an urgent need to reinvent the customer experience, there is a great opportunity to nurture the agent network as well.
Insurance agents are an important sales vehicle for carriers and require access to a broad range of information related to policyholders, policy applications, underwriting updates as well as billing and payment information (see How Technology Can Help to Tackle Insurance Fraud?).
Digital technologies that help insurance agents become more productive can boost agent loyalty, accelerate sales and ultimately grow overall business for both carriers and agents alike.
Too often today, agents have little to no visibility to this critical information within their portals and few digital tools to help them when questions or issues emerge, leading to frustration and churn.
The carriers that offer the best digital experience have a distinct advantage and build brand loyalty. The same technology that’s being used to transform the customer experience should also be applied within agent portals, helping them to generate online quotes, streamline processes, provide faster support and help them conduct more business (see Artificial Intelligence, Digitization & Agent Experience – 3 trends reshaping the insurance).
Just like with policyholders, meet agents where they are within the digital experience and empower them with flexibility and choice for how they want to connect.
This frees the agent from ever having to disengage from the digital experience, for example to dial into a call center, a clunky and inefficient experience. Providing tools that boost productivity and accelerate sales for agents strongly positions carriers to build agent loyalty and increase sales (see Why Digital Experiences are Essential for Insurers and Agents Success?).
The use of Artificial Intelligence is on the rise
AI is increasingly being leveraged to enhance the customer experience while creating efficiencies for the carrier and service team. Chatbots that can intelligently route customers to the best available agent is a popular use, but Artificial Intelligence in Insurance can do much more.
For instance, when a policy is being written, insurers can apply AI to conduct background research and more closely monitor for red flags.
AI is emerging as a valuable tool from a risk perspective as well, providing a more holistic view of customers and helping to determine if there have been any involved with fraud.
Carriers are increasingly prioritizing the experiences they deliver, both for customers and service employees alike, as a way to differentiate their offerings. Those that prioritize investing in the digitally optimized tools for service and support will be well positioned to increase customer satisfaction, retain top talent and grow market share this year and beyond.
AUTHOR: Phil Brown – Commercial Research at LIMRA