Walking the tightrope in insurance

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By Adam Goldsmith, Insurance Specialist, SAS UK & Ireland

Insurers have the near-impossible task of keeping customers satisfied with the service they're given whilst ensuring costs are controlled to ensure profitability. At the point a customer makes a claim, it is at a point of high stress and emotion, but it can also open up an insurer to a process that is more costly than necessary. However, with the help of hyper-automation within the claims process, insurers can get the best of both worlds; delighting customers and controlling costs.

Automating the claims process

Customers expect digital solutions and channels. For example, customers buy groceries online, fix their computers through online chatbots, and "visit" their GP on zoom. So, it’s not a surprise that customers are looking for the same digital communication strategy from their insurance company. In fact the move online has been further driven by the global pandemic.

By integrating digital tools into the customer journey, insurers can save time when a customer makes a claim. Customers typically have to call and talk to a claims handler on the phone. But, with modern insurers, the initial communication is done via an app; the customer fills in all of the common questions that a handler would ask and uploads photos of the claim. Before automation, a witness statement could take more than a week to collect, but the witness can now enter the incident report within hours using a digital tool. Insurers with modern digital solutions help speed up the initial claims process and improve the customer experience. The faster turnaround time saves labour costs and ensures the customer has a better experience.

The more advanced insurance companies have implemented a digital coach to increase conversion and cut costs, such as Ella, a Digital Coach implemented by Canada Life. This is a great example of how the creation of a friendly and personable interactive digital coach that provides tips, nudges, and personalised information to Sun Life customers, can increase value for both Sun Life clients and Sun Life itself. It helped boost the net promoter score (NPS) by 14% and client engagement by 50%, helping it become ‘Winner of the 2020 Celent Model Insurer Award for Customer Experience Transformation’.

The digital customer journey

When a customer is making a claim, they are often in a highly emotive moment and under a lot of stress. So, communication is vital at this moment. When a customer contacts the claims handler either by phone or digital channel, the communication strategy should be personalised to the individual customer's needs and sensitive to any associated stress. For example, when a customer has a road traffic accident, the first instinct should be to ask if everyone in the car is ok and then proceed with details about the claim. It is a moment in the customer journey that could even determine whether a customer is retained or not. Therefore it's essential that insurers understand the customer context when they make contact. For example, being able to follow the 'breadcrumb trail' of the customers' digital activity can give guidance on how best to serve that customer, and ensure all available context is given to making the optimal decision.

The claims process should be customer-centric and recognise each customer individually.  With a digitally enhanced solution it becomes possible to continually refine and improve personalisation and the customer experience. Insurance claims handlers can track customer behaviours and needs as well as follow past experiences with the customer in order to answer their claims questions more accurately and effectively. Insurers can also learn from existing customers to make more informed decisions and strengthen their communication strategies in the future.

Insurers can save time and, therefore, money by making intelligent decisions throughout the claims process. By being smarter about this process, claims handlers can spend less time on repetitive tasks and focus on complex claims, making insurers are more efficient. Perhaps more importantly, understanding customers better and improving retention rates will help modern insurers compete in the evolving customer-centric insurance industry. Whilst all of this is important, we need to remember that these intelligent decision tools are just that; they are still just tools and are there to support claims handlers without losing the human touch.

If you want to learn more about the digital claims journey and the future of Insurance go to watch the Digital claims – the final frontier on Demand.

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About Author

Adam Goldsmith

Helping Insurers turn Data into Actionable Intelligence

Adam has worked in the enterprise analytics arena for 8 years and has a background in Capital Markets, Banking & more recently in Insurance, specialising in high performance analytical applications. Having spent time at IBM & TIBCO in the past, he has been working in the Insurance world for the past 4 years and since joining SAS in January 2018, he now runs the relationship with some of SAS’ strategic Insurance customers in the UK.

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