In this Opinion piece, we take a look at how Artificial Intelligence can raise the customer experience within the insurance sector and reduce those human errors which often lead to frustration – and the loss of an existing customer.
By Barrett Coakley, Senior Industry Marketing Manager at ClickSoftware
With the ongoing and increasing pervasiveness of on-demand, personalised services such as Uber and Amazon Prime, organisations across the board are feeling the pressure to consistently deliver customer experiences that are convenient, individualised and instant; and the insurance industry is not immune to this phenomenon.
In the past, insurance companies, like many other industries, delivered mediocre experiences. Acquiring new customers to replace those who churned was the norm instead of the exception. However, in a market that has one of the highest customer acquisition costs, this practice is no longer financially viable. Since a staggering 91 per cent of dissatisfied customers decide to move on instead of making their complaints known, insurance companies need to focus on keeping the customers they have. This means providing the type of service customers not only want, but demand – transparency, timeliness and consistency.
With customer retention at the core of market dominance, insurance companies are seeking innovative ways to consistently deliver exceptional experiences. One way to achieve this is to reduce human error in claims handling and provide a near real-time service when a customer files a new claim. It is also important to remember that while speed in following up on a claim is important, it also needs to be the right response for the type of claim. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) can come into the picture. With AI, insurance organisations can not only reduce response times, but also increase the accuracy of the action.
As part of improving the customer experience, insurance companies need to focus on reducing customer effort as a key performance indicator (KPI). Customers want to work with companies that are easy to do business with, and insurance companies cannot underestimate the role customer effort plays in how customers view their quality of experience. In fact, Forrester reports that 71 per cent of consumers say that good service hinges on a company’s aptness to value their time. The good news? Field service management solutions that leverage AI help insurers lay the foundation for a positive customer experience from the first interaction, saving insurers from the worst case scenario: customer attrition.
AI-Driven Adjuster Optimisation
Field claims adjusting is full of day-to-day surprises that reduce efficiency and lead to service level agreements (SLA) violations and poor customer experiences. To minimise the number and impact of disruptions, it’s important to have an accurate schedule, with each claim assigned to the most appropriate adjuster. Predictive field service, powered by machine learning and data science, is key in making this happen.
With machine learning, insurance companies can analyse real-time and historical data such as appointments at risk of cancellation, potential customer no-shows, weather, traffic and other factors. This intelligence enables companies to improve productivity and maximise utilisation of their adjusters.
Companies are increasingly using machine learning to expose how and where to improve operational efficiency. This automated insight, combined with the wealth of precise data captured throughout the lifecycle of every claim, delivers the feedback needed to improve decision-making. By leveraging these capabilities, organisations can break out of the limitations forced on them by static systems and institute a culture of continuous improvement to reach new and improved levels of field resource optimisation and customer service.
Customer Loyalty, the Hallmark of Success
The personal lines market is becoming increasingly commoditised, and it’s common for customers to base their decision on which provider to select solely on price. To differentiate from competitors, insurance companies need to provide a superior customer experience, especially in the face of a crisis. It comes as no surprise that 84 per cent of customers become frustrated when their insurance provider does not have or provide the information they deem essential. By utilising AI, companies can ensure the right field adjuster is at the right place, at the right time, with the relevant information to address the customer’s needs efficiently.
Not only do customers expect real-time interactions, they want to be communicated with through their preferred communication channel. Today, 70 per cent of consumers expect their provider to have a mobile option for providing alerts, status updates and scheduling changes, as well as a feedback loop on the quality of service provided. As a result, leading insurers are offering policyholders real-time engagement with Uber-like ETA visibility that eliminates a large percentage of calls into claim centres inquiring when an adjuster will arrive. Adjusters can then be scheduled in the most optimal way, based on actual availability, predicted traffic and other critical factors.
Handle Complexity in job times and locations
Predictive job duration estimates the time it will take to complete a job based on all relevant task and adjuster properties. And it continuously learns and improves from historical data. This means, for example, that as an adjuster gets more efficient in adjusting a certain type of claim, the expected job duration decreases.
Let’s consider auto claims. To succeed, insurers must interactively expose appointments for appropriate drive-in or DRP locations. Full awareness of the customer’s location, employee and third-party availability, capabilities, cost, and travel times, quickly presents precise and appropriate options for a customer to select from. Field service solutions collect reams of detailed data at every stage of engagement and crunches the data through machine learning algorithms to enable improved future performance. This increased precision and speed increases operational awareness, while pointing to where better outcomes can be achieved.
Effective Utilisation of Resources
It’s easy to focus on individual adjuster performance when measuring job duration — but it’s not the sole purpose. It’s also important to go beyond looking at job duration at an individual level and maintain a holistic view into operations. With full visibility into performance across regions, claim types, customers and field resources, you can uncover which areas are strong and which areas need improvement. This allows you to set standards, define goals and objectives, and work towards improvements to the claims organisation as a whole.
This is an irreplaceable benefit of incorporating AI, and one of the best ways companies can use historical data, in combination with machine learning, to help optimise field resources for the benefit of the customer’s experience.
Managing appraisals, inspections, claims and catastrophic events to the customer’s satisfaction is high stakes, and must occur while balancing business needs. The inherent complexities of addressing these planned and unplanned activities — whether at the asset location, in a field office, or at the site of a claim or catastrophe — require a high level of precision to balance the opposing objectives of providing exceptional service and profitability. The KPI improvements are visible through an increase on the number of claims handled per adjuster, reduction in travel expense, reduction in calls to the claims centre and fewer re-do’s and missed claim appointments.
By taking advantage of AI, insurance companies can efficiently and cost-effectively satisfy customers expectations, moving them closer to market dominance. Gaining a competitive advantage and positioning themselves for ongoing success requires a reduction in human error. To do this requires leveraging applications powered by AI that make smart recommendations for their customers and their business. It’s time to rise above the industry norm and incorporate the technology advancements field claims professionals need to enhance the customer experience, improve retention rates and increase profitability.