Insurers Turn to Automation - Insurance Thought Leadership

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June 21, 2021

Insurers Turn to Automation

Summary:

When automation is a core technology, transformation can occur at speed, meaning faster return on digital investment.

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Insurers that are heavily dependent on traditional business models have struggled over the past year with financial strain. But automation presents an opportunity to establish short-term successes to speed up recovery and long-term results that can stimulate growth by accelerating digital transformation.

Here are the ways automation can help create resiliency in insurance organizations, ensuring that operations run smoothly and effectively:

Improving Customer Service and Employee Experience

Customer expectations are at an all-time high as digital-native brands like Amazon continue to dominate and set standards that are difficult for other companies to copy. These standards don’t only appear in business-to-consumer transactions but also in business-to-business transactions that include promoting product innovation and mix. Insurers strive to deliver high-quality customer experience, but there is still a gap between what customers expect and what insurers are delivering – especially when it comes to being available at all hours and on all channels. 

See also: New Tool: Cognitive Process Automation

Typically, at an insurance enterprise, when a customer calls into the support line with a question about billing, the inquiry goes straight to a call center agent. The agent must spend time asking a myriad of repetitive follow-up questions to confirm a customer’s identity and understand the situation, then spend more time searching for a customer’s account information across multiple systems just to identify the issue. With automation, as soon as the call comes in, a software robot begins aggregating the relevant customer data for the agent. Through a combination of customer sentiment and behavior analytics, the robot then pulls actionable information into a streamlined application with quick access to next steps for the agent.

This seamless interaction means a customer has a much quicker, more personalized, positive experience, and the agent is ready with the right information to do the job efficiently and bring to the customer request to an appropriate resolution. 

It is essential that insurers invest in technology that drives a seamless digital experience at every communication channel – whether it be a chatbot, a mobile app or an interaction by phone. When an insurer is available in this capacity, it can provide customers with an easier experience and provide servicing or resolve claims at a lower operational cost. Intelligent automation links the ecosystem of traditional insurance systems with technology capabilities.

Streamlining Business Operations

In addition to the front-end benefits to the customer, automation is key to optimizing internal, time-consuming manual processes. Automation means insurance organizations can react more quickly to increasing demands from policyholders, agents and partners with innovative, customized and transparent products and pricing.

Insurance is a long-established business with tons of existing systems, including spreadsheets, PDFs, scanned documents, applications like Duck Creek and Guidewire and data from third parties such as LexisNexis. According to Celent in 2018, 45% of insurance CIOs identified heavy, disconnected and duplicative legacy systems as a key inhibitor to digital transformation. And this reality hasn’t drastically changed. According to KPMG’s 2020 CIO Survey, insurance CIOs have “improving operational efficiency” as their #1 business issue that needs to be addressed. The primary reason for lagging operational efficiency is being disconnected and multi-tech systems with non-standardized data.

See also: Keys to ‘Intelligent Automation’

Automation can be created on top of existing systems, meaning these systems can be integrated so that data and underlying processes can be much more streamlined, enabling an easier digital transformation. Once the legacy systems are integrated with automation, it’s easy to create hands-on and hands-off robots that automate repetitive tasks, reduce process costs and cycle times and free time to focus on higher-value work like pursuing new business.

Processing claims end-to-end is one high-value example of how automation can streamline operations. To begin processing a claim, an agent must collect customer information from a variety of sources, including policy administration systems, documents, third-party systems and claims processing systems. Manually looking for the right information across multiple locations – virtual or not – can be time-consuming. Once the information is collected, entering it manually into the system is a frequent source of mistakes. 

The consequences of redundant and incorrect data entry range from delays and harming the customer experience, to errors and omissions in claims information, to potential fraud and leakages – all of which are damaging to the business. Hybrid automation – the process of using a combination of unattended robots, which send cases to humans for decision making, and attended robots that sit on an employee’s workstation and trigger the employee to take a specific action to start a workflow – can take care of the entire process start to finish, eliminating many of the unnecessary mistakes while saving time and resources.

Navigating Future Disruption

This past year of unprecedented changes and hardships has CIOs and CEOs preparing for expanded digital change. Some insurers are already using automation to accelerate digital transformation and see results in their core operations, including claims, customer service and new business intake. 

The typical response to new customer needs are large, long-term investments, ranging from core system modernization to multi-channel integration, that are slow to get off the ground and drag on the time-to-value. When automation is a core technology, digital transformation can be delivered at speed, meaning faster service and faster return on investment. Modernized, automated solutions mean CIOs and senior business leaders can build the flexibility to adapt to market demands more quickly, deliver improved customer experiences and advance the business digitally transforming the legacy environment.

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About the Author

Sathya Sethuraman is an insurance industry strategist and thought leader with over 20 years of experience. He is a trusted advisor to Fortune 100 global insurance and financial services enterprises and has led large-scale digital transformation initiatives.

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