Part One: Reimagining your client journeys
Wimpie van der Merwe, CEO of Global Choices
My punchline may be a bit cheesy, but this is really what insurance is all about – paying claims. That is why… ‘claim time is brand-building time’.
The insurance industry is reluctant to change as it likes to follow its own traditional set of rules. When a client makes a phone call to say she wants to claim, she wants the insurance company, insurer, broker or underwriter to take charge of that negative loss experience that has happened in her life. It comes down to that simple thing: We have a lack of empathy. However, this actually goes a bit further, because the person phones into a call centre that does not know who she is, and they first need to confirm and validate that person and validate that she has paid her premiums.
Now if you reimagine the process upfront, when you issue the policy, you can have the necessary claim forms in place or in the cloud with all the details of that client, so you don’t have to try and extract a lot of information to be able to validate and then look at the claim form. The reality is that times have changed because of our digital transformation processes, as well as what is happening among our cell phone and technology companies and in our banking environment. So, clients compare their claims experience with entertainment – such as Amazon, Netflix or Uber. This is where the frustration starts, and where you start losing the client. The best way to prevent this is to live up to the client’s expectations. Reimagine your processes. Ask yourself what you can do to identify the client automatically whenever they make contact with you. Have a single customer view from your very first touchpoint.
It’s a well known fact that the insurance industry only really interacts with a client three times. Firstly when you sell and onboard the policy. Secondly, on renewal. And thirdly at claim stage, which can be months later. So, we can go and look at our specific touchpoints to see how we can reimagine and rethink all the processes.
Rethinking claims can be a simple thing, like not giving a client a blank form through a PDF that you sent. It lacks empathy. What if that person doesn’t have a printer and must go to a store to print, come home, fill it in and search all his files to find answers to whatever questions are asked? Rather have it all redesigned into a digital form where you can easily just SMS or Whatsapp it to the policyholder. This would allow them to open a link and use their ID or a password to go through the process.
In the emergency services industry, most of the phone calls we receive trigger the start of a claim. So, we look at what we can do to optimise that touchpoint every time, and what can we extract from that to help the process along in that particular claims journey. From the emergency call, we sort out the emergency part of the event and capture whatever information we can. That is where the combination of technology and human interaction works hand in hand. Going one step further, you can design that process/ platform so that any other person – such as the broker or the underwriter – can go in and see who last spoke to the client, what was discussed, what information was gathered and then take the journey further or intervene if and when it is required.
Currently, we have all these different silo approaches and the poor client on this journey must start from zero with every interaction. The claims department phones him and it is another call centre agent that has no clue that you spoke to that person and so he starts the validation again. That lacks empathy. The client becomes just another number, like a policy number. That is where I think we go wrong.
Then also, have a rethink about your claims professional and what roles can apply. Then think a little bit differently; reimagine those roles. Most claims people have an incredible amount of knowledge and experience. Extract that knowledge and experience and see what else you can create from that. You are sitting with a claims department in your organisation. Look at the different experiences, analyse them, see what data is available and then create new and different value adding processes and digital solutions, services and even products.
So, redesign, rethink and reimagine what your customers go through. It is a simple thing to start with. If I go through my processes, will I like what I see? This is a very simple measurement and matrix. I always like to test my own clients’ journeys in my own organisation, just to see. It will really irritate me if someone is not taking the initiative, or just thinking that one step forward. You must allow your own people to become more comfortable in an environment where they are always thinking, “how can I serve that client better?” What tools can you provide them to assist that client a little bit better in that environment?
At the end of the day, go and look at all the different types of claims that have come through your claims department and determine what you can do a little differently and better.