Adriaan van Staden, Head of Sales & Partner Technology Strategy SelectONE CX
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new era in consumer engagement, the insurance industry was grappling to adapt to a changing regulatory landscape, shifting customer expectations around interactions, and increasing competition from agile digital-first and digital-native insurtech startups.
As Gartner reported that 81% of customers across all industries now attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative, insurtech was delivering digital-led innovation that gave policyholders more choice and flexibility, offering easy access to self-service digital platforms that make comparing and switching insurance providers easier than ever.
Perhaps more tellingly, modern digitally-proficient consumers already expected insurers to deliver comparable customer experiences (CX) to digital-native businesses in other industry verticals, such as e-commerce and banking providers.
Yet, digital adoption typically lagged within the traditional high-touch insurance industry. Gartner’s research indicates that only 12% of insurance businesses and IT leaders consider their organisations to be digitally progressive. Hesitance to deviate from the predominantly human-based interaction model that dominated almost every point of the customer journey was a major impediment to digital transformation, as was the need to sweat sunk investments into legacy systems.
Furthermore, a lack of understanding about evolving consumer trends around digital enablement constrained the pace and scale of digitalisation within the broader sector.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic created new urgency around this digital revolution and the need to drive digital-led innovation across the industry.
Insurers needed to adapt their business models to maintain business continuity by enabling remote working, while also meeting consumer demands for a blend of voice and digital engagement options to provide virtual customer support and maintain service levels during lockdowns.
Cloud-based contact centre solutions provide insurers with the omnichannel capabilities they need to provide quality policyholder-agent interactions, which will directly influence customer relationships that ultimately impact revenue.
In response to a changing market and the need to reinvent insurance processes, SelectONE CX has partnered with Talkdesk – the first managed services provider to offer the globally-acclaimed Talkdesk CX Cloud™ solution to the local market, backed by full implementation and support capabilities.
Embracing the cloud deployment model creates opportunities to integrate with CRM, policyholder administration, and claims systems, and adopt new and emerging intelligent digital solutions, such as end-to-end automation, virtual agents, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics.
These capabilities unlock opportunities to move to a more proactive engagement model that leverages policyholder information and broader data sets from integrated third-party provider platforms and telematics from IoT devices.
The resultant data integration with back-office tasks such as underwriting and claims management can streamline processes to improve CX across the insurance lifecycle, while also transforming the user experience through enhanced front-end capabilities during the consultation, sales, conversion and on-boarding phases.
Insurers that have embraced cloud-based contact centre solutions are already realising significant business benefits thanks to the capabilities.
For instance, in the highly regulated insurance sector, which is characterised by product commoditisation and thin price differentiation due to rising competition and market transparency, insurers increasingly compete for new business based on CX and personalisation.
While insurers continue to make progress in CX modernisation, more work is needed. Insurers must continually invest in solutions that deliver better digital CX, particularly at the claims stage, and the contact centre is the ideal department to unify the policyholder journey.
Crafting memorable CX requires seamless, consistent, and personalised customer interactions across all channels throughout the customer lifecycle, from policy inception to renewals and claims.
Cloud-based contact centres can also empower brokers and insurers to create an ecosystem of value-added ‘assist’ services to further differentiate their offering.
And insurers that deliver superior CX also stand to reduce churn by improving customer satisfaction, which inspires brand loyalty and referral business.
As the most common point of contact between insurers and policy holders, championing CX innovation within the claims process has become a strategic imperative.
Digitising and automating as much of the process as possible gives policyholders more control, which delivers greater convenience and boosts customer satisfaction, while realising cost and operational efficiencies.
Industry experience shows that CX during the first notice of loss (FNOL) sets the tone for how a claim is handled throughout its lifecycle. Early decisions can ultimately define the customer experience and the cost required to resolve a claim, whether meritorious or suspicious.
Investing in intelligent cloud-based interaction platforms can shift low-complexity interactions to self-service channels, which gives policyholders more control and enables them to navigate via their preferred channel in each level of the process, while accelerating claim settlement times.
In this regard, when transforming the claims process, insurers need to prioritise policyholders by adopting an automated proactive approach to communication. Most communication today remains manual and reactive, which is time-consuming and operationally onerous.
Investing in solutions that provide proactive communication throughout the journey would demystify the process for policyholders, while ensuring they constantly remain informed and are proactively aware of the steps they should take to complete it.
Furthermore, engaging policyholders in self-service channels that can seamlessly escalate to a live agent, if and when needed, represents an opportunity to create a unified experience within the contact centre.
Implementing these capabilities also frees agent capacity to handle more value-adding tasks or complex commercial claims to improve outcomes, with AI, machine learning and data analytics available to support decisioning in real time and streamline the process.
As such, digital platforms should support a blended workforce model that augments broker and agent functions and human interactions with AI-enabled automation and self-service capabilities to meet differing policyholder preferences and demands.
Bots like Talkdesk Virtual Agent™ make self-service convenient and productive. Policyholders no longer need to wait on hold for extended periods of time to speak with an agent, or get bounced between agents in search of somebody who can help. Now, they can have their requests solved 24/7 without a live agent. If the request is too complex for a bot, Talkdesk Virtual Agent will direct the policyholder to a human agent prepared to quickly address the inquiry.
Using AI-powered tools also reduce the burden on agents. AI-powered Agent Assist™ guides agents with recommendations and automates follow-up tasks by taking notes and transcribing during live calls.
Ultimately, the contact centre will play a pivotal role in linking digital and human touch points to deliver a seamless experience that meets the constantly evolving demands of modern digitally savvy insurance consumers.