This Opinion piece is by Manoj Pant, Senior Director and EMEA Insurance Industry Principal at Pegasystems. It looks at why automation and customer service are core considerations for insurers in a cost of living crisis.
There’s no doubt that the UK insurance industry is facing a challenging time in the current macroeconomic context, as are its customers. Increases in the cost of living coupled with interest rates rises are prompting insurers and customers to cut down on costs where possible, with many customers actively reducing the number of insurance policies they take out or renew.
Insurers are also being buffeted with increases in claims costs as well as fraudulent behaviours during both the claims and the sales process – either at the point of sale or as part of mid-term adjustment transactions. All these problems mean revenue losses and reduced profits for insurers – an untenable situation.
It’s clear that insurers face challenges to manage operations costs without sacrificing customer service standards. Whether it is human error in claims processing or gaps in understanding customer data due to multiple legacy systems and inconsistent at times, it is vital for the insurers to accurately analyse and address these challenges, applying appropriate technologies to deliver a superior customer experience.
So given this context, what can insurers do to re-orient their focus on customer satisfaction, whilst ensuring the bottom line is protected?
Seamless customer experience across channels
Today, insurance customer expectations have been set sky high by insurtechs, who are at the cutting edge where technology adoption is concerned. Demanding customers expect seamless personalised experiences across all channels which means responsiveness and personalisation are a priority when engaging with their insurer during the claims process, or policy servicing.
Insurers must adopt a real cross-channel integration to ensure that customers can not only reach out on any channel they feel comfortable but can also seamlessly transition across communication channels without losing context. Avoid automatically adopting a low cost to serve channel such as call deflection – even in times of a cost-of-living crisis, to get the best outcome is more important, so only use it if it makes sense.
Whether text, phone, website, social media or otherwise, customers should be able to switch between channels without seeing a fall in the customer experience standards. This can be aided by the deployment of a single unified hub for customer information to avoid the need to build logic and data into each channel. This ensures customers can access their preferred method of contacting their insurer.
From a technical perspective, an agile development approach can help insurers put this into practice. This allows continuous, iterative application development based on small scope business needs. Should these need change, development teams can quickly capture feedback to make smaller, but more frequent changes to incorporate feedback in real time.
Customer-centricity through conversational AI
When it comes to the customer experience, adopting a customer-centric approach should be implemented to help build satisfaction levels and retain customers. AI-powered automation is
becoming increasingly important when delivering on these priorities, improving engagement with insurers, and creating a more pleasant experience for customers.
For example, conversational AI solutions aid insurers in improving the customer experience through facilitating contextual self-service, intelligent virtual assistants, and interactive voice response (IVR) systems. These tools allow agents to focus their time and effort on the cases that require human intervention, rather than tending to every issue, increasing efficiency.
When utilizing AI solutions, the human element should be a priority, when working with customers. Customers expect to be in contact with agents who are invested in their claims, so an empathy-centric approach is critical – an expectation that can be met conversational AI when used to supplement and enhance the human agent. This should increase the probability of a satisfied customer and encourage a long-standing relationship.
Leveraging real-time data for increased efficiency and decision making
Often, manual data entry and searching for information can make a major impact on an agent’s role, which can concurrently frustrate both employees and customers in turn. To avoid this, insurers can implement “voice” AI solutions to drive quick decision-making, by leveraging real time data to guide agents throughout customer conversations.
Voice AI tools analyse live audio using speech-to-text analytics, as a conversation progresses and automatically enters data in the systems from the very beginning of the interaction. This tool has the capability to recommend service actions of an agile nature, that are tailored to the conversation at hand; highlighting key pieces of contextual information. An agent can now effectively judge what action to implement and what information to share with the customer, with voice AI – ideally with as little input as possible from the agent. The agent now has the potential to have full focus on the customer, rather than legacy technology slowing down an agent’s productivity.
Ultimately, customer service efforts should never be viewed through a transactional lens, but rather be seen as the means to build a long-term relationship with mutual respect and appreciation. Understanding how intelligent automation can help increase efficiency gains, in order to minimise costs, will aid insurance companies in directing business spend for maximum efficiency. Keeping customers happy is important, and by investing in the right process streamlining technologies, insurers can drive an equitable value exchange that will deliver superior customer experience.