With my wife, Mary Ann, away for two weeks, I’m always looking to score some good food. I live in a small town, where the Super Walmart is the local cultural and epicurean haute cuisine epicenter, so I normally must travel to another town to find something decent to eat. I’m not trying to be a food snob, but that’s just the way it is here in central Florida, where the three basic food groups are defined as Bar-B-Q.
While Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen is certainly not anywhere near any Michelin stars, I like their spicy fried chicken. Forgive me, Julia Child, but I like the flavor and texture.
So last Sunday I made my way to the closest Popeye’s drive-thru line. My wife had suggested that I order enough chicken for multiple meals, instead of just for lunch, and I was happy to follow this advice. So, when I got to the menu, instead of ordering a three-piece, I decided that the eight-piece family meal was the right choice. I mean, my wife made the suggestion.
As I pulled up to the microphone, I heard a friendly Popeye’s employee ask for my order, or so I assumed. The sound quality was very poor. I said I wanted the eight-piece family meal, spicy.
What happened next is where the unlikely alliance starts.
The Popeye’s employee started to speak, but the sound was so garbled and filled with static that I could not make heads or tails of it. I did recognize the number nine, but that was about all I understood. Because there was a line of cars behind me that was wrapping around the block, I didn’t want to do anything that would slow the process, so I repeated that I wanted the eight-piece family meal, spicy, and I was able to make out an “OK” over the speaker.
As I got up to the window to pay the happy and friendly Popeye’s employee, I mentioned that I heard something about the number nine but couldn’t understand what the person was saying.
It turns out that Popeye’s was running a promotional deal. The standard, eight-piece family meal is $13.29, but there was a nine-piece meal available for $12. 99. I cocked my head to one side and said, “So, I can get an extra piece of chicken and save money at the same time? What a deal! Please change my order from eight to nine pieces. And please be sure to make it spicy.”
They changed the order; I got an extra piece of chicken while saving 30 cents, and I was happy. That extra piece of chicken seemed to be especially tasty.
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My satisfaction as a customer had been blocked because I could not understand the information or my options. My customer experience was later elevated when I got the correct data and options, making it possible to make an informed decision. The data was there all the time, but faulty technology made it difficult, if not impossible, for me to understand my options.
I began to wonder: When was the last time that an employee pulled up to the drive-thru and tried to order something like a normal, everyday person? What about the shift manager? The store manager? The franchise owner? Harper Lee was right when she wrote those immortal words in "To Kill a Mockingbird" for Atticus Finch to share with his children, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
While I’m not a betting man, I would gladly wager all the money in my pockets and my checking accounts that no one in management has ever gone through the drive-thru. If they had, I feel confident that my technology experience would have been radically better.
Is it the same?
Whoever you are, you are reading this because you are interested in the insurance industry. And you are thinking one of two things;
- Yes, ordering chicken and insurance ARE the same. Chicken is chicken, and insurance is insurance. Both are commodities. Or,
- No, ordering chicken and insurance ARE NOT the same. While chicken may be chicken, all insurance is not created equal and is not a commodity.
Irrespective of your perspective, selling and servicing insurance depends on clear communication with prospects, customers and authorized third parties. If the data and communications are not clear, then cost and frustrations go up while satisfaction and utilization go down. It is paramount that selling and servicing insurance be based on information, communication and transparency.
If you are responsible for systems that collect or share insurance data, when was the last time that you personally examined the system from an outsider’s standpoint? Brought someone alongside who’s not directly involved with the insurance space and walked the person through your data collection and exchange solutions? Collected direct feedback for your users? Made changes in response to user feedback?
From a technology standpoint, there is much that can be done to enhance communication with prospects, clients and third parties while mitigating miscommunication. Here are six areas to consider;
- Don’ts – pave the historical cow path of ACORD/company forms, internal screens or database layouts.
- Do’s – reimagine the experience based on the user’s perspective alone. Make it easy to follow and use, be sensitive to screen real estate size or constraints.
Start and Stop:
- Don’ts – force users to gather and complete data entry based on what’s convenient for your system or organization.
- Do’s – allow users to start, suspend, restart and change the basic intent of the transaction, even allowing them to reorder the screen and field flows.
- Don’ts – assume that third-party data is valid, clean or up to date.
- Do’s – tell users what third-party data you are going to access before you retrieve it, show the data to them and ask for feedback.
- Don’ts – hide the AI process, results or how it hurt their eligibility or rate.
- Do’s – practice complete transparency about your use of AI, explain what it is, what data you are using, sharing both intermediate and final results.
- Don’ts – camouflage what are the favorable risk factors that you are looking for.
- Do’s – be transparent on both favorable and unfavorable risk factors and what the user can do to reduce their risk.
See also: Emerging Technology in Personal Lines
- Don’ts – use arcane, overly complex and statutory-sounding insurance jargon and terms.
- Do’s – as the March Hare said, “say what you mean” as simply and straightforwardly as possible for all text on screens, definitions and forms.
If you are looking for some instant, quick fix, low-hanging fruit or some other consult-speak buzzword solution, you need to read a different article by a different author. Improving clarity, understanding and transparency are long-term tasks requiring refinement over time. But we need to start somewhere, and where we are is as good a place to start as any.