Tag Archives: accenture

3 Must-Haves for a Self-Service Portal

Today, human support is steadily losing ground to self-service in the insurance industry. For one thing, clients have grown tech-savvy and self-reliant and are willing to solve issues on their own, without waiting to reach a live agent. What is more, as the pandemic interrupted the conventional face-to-face service and support delivery, even the most reluctant customers became favorable toward online channels. Against this backdrop, insurers are implementing out-of-the-box self-service portals or developing custom insurance software

Companies should prioritize the particular needs and expectations of their customer base rather than follow the examples of other self-service portals. Insurance customers, as shown by Accenture in its 2019 Global FS Consumer Study, do not feel comfortable resorting to self-service in every case. The majority would rely on digital channels for tasks like looking up information or submitting personal data. Yet, when it comes to complex financial decisions — purchasing a policy or changing the terms of a contract — over half of the respondents admitted they can’t do without human assistance. 

Given these customer behavior patterns, insurers need to invest in providing exhaustive information, features for handling non-critical issues and account management as self-service options, but refrain from trying to automate all customer interactions. Below, we explore the self-service features that suit the set tasks most.  

A knowledge base 

The idea of customer education meets skeptical attitudes from the majority of insurers. According to Deloitte, 33% of surveyed executives believe that clear product information is a decisive factor for new customers, yet only 16% see it helping retain customers. 

In fact, a detailed and consistent knowledge base is not only an essential self-service channel but also a powerful driver of customer satisfaction. Building a centralized repository of relevant insights, like policy comparisons, legal terms glossary, claims application guides and so on, you give customers an opportunity to find answers and solutions quickly and at any time. 

Through relevant and innovative content, a company can also reach a wider audience and build a reputation as a niche expert. What is more, by analyzing the knowledge base activity, insurers can discern customers’ common needs and challenges and come up with solutions.  

For such a knowledge base to prove authoritative and helpful, the content needs to be of high quality but clear and comprehensible to an average customer, free of complicated terms and industry jargon. What is more, the materials need to be reviewed and updated regularly to remain relevant in the face of your evolving service offer and changes in the insurance industry. Therefore, when choosing your knowledge base format, make certain you have sufficient resources to maintain it at a proper level. 

See also: Self-Service Portals Improve CX

AI chatbots

Conversational AI has taken the business world by storm, becoming a staple of customer relations strategy. What is more, customers have come to appreciate chatbots for their efficiency and increasingly prefer to seek their assistance first. These facts, coupled with the opportunity to cut customer service costs, make AI chatbots a self-servicing option worthy of adoption.  

Implemented in your insurance portal, chatbots can tirelessly handle numerous customer queries and come up with relevant advice in each case. Through simple message commands, users can ask the bot to describe or compare insurance plans, find policies matching certain criteria or help address any current insurance policy concern. Unlike human agents, the technology can provide answers and take actions in real time, driving customer satisfaction up. 

Beyond this, chatbots can be programmed to analyze a customer’s profile information and engagement history and supply personalized product and service recommendations or even craft bespoke insurance policies and quotes. 

Yet chatbots are not without limitations. They are not geared toward making independent decisions and can only perform actions defined by the algorithm. This means that complex issues and requests need to be escalated to human service representatives. Moreover, chatbots are still bad at gauging human emotions and expressing sentiment appropriate to the situation, which can unnerve an already distressed customer. 

Claims management

Traditionally, claims management is one of the most cumbersome and confusing journeys for the insured. The customer fills out forms, gathers a lot of paperwork and photo evidence and submits it all in person for the company to process and reach a conclusion. 

But the digital age has altered customers’ expectations in this regard. They want a simple, speedy and transparent process that can be handled remotely in real time. By integrating a claims management engine into your self-service portal, you can meet this demand. 

The solution should allow a customer to make the first notice of loss to the insurer and then fill out and submit the official claim together with all the necessary photo or video evidence. As the information is processed and checked for fraud, the damage is appraised and the settlement is offered, the policyholder has full visibility into the claim status without the need to contact company representatives.     

Inevitably, there can be complex claims that require the agent’s on-site damage assessment or the personal presence of the insured. But for many other cases where fully digital handling is possible, self-servicing offers customers the freedom to manage their claims anywhere, anytime and allows them to control the process. The solution proves beneficial to insurance companies, as well, as it frees agents’ time spent on customer communication and paperwork in favor of other tasks, while minimizing human errors in the submitted claims.   

See also: Time to Try Being an Entrepreneur?

Summing up: The balance is vital

Despite the extensive reliance on self-service, insurance customers are not yet ready to accept it as the only alternative. As long as there are people who appreciate human touch over convenience and speed, traditional customer support will remain in demand.

Therefore, a hybrid approach to customer service appears to be the most appropriate strategy for insurers. Smartly balancing self-service and human support features and ensuring intuitive access to them all, an insurance company can meet the shifting customer needs and offer an outstandingly rich and dynamic support experience.

4 Trends in Insurance in the New Year

The pace of technical innovation continues to be top of mind in the insurance industry. About 96% of insurance executives say innovation at their companies has increased over the past three years. And global investment in insurtechs hit a record $3.26 billion through the first three quarters of 2019, according to Deloitte.

It’s clear 2020 will see a continuation of technology advancement within the industry. Following are four trends we are seeing on the horizon:

1. User Experience — Carriers, agents and consumers all want the same thing: for the insurance buying process to be fast and easy. Consumers want to research plans, compare options and buy insurance products when they need them on the device(s) they choose, often on their mobile phone (more than half of all search queries in 2019 came from mobile, Google says). And consumers prefer a tailored experience.

According to Accenture, 90% of insurance executives say that integration of customization and real-time delivery is the next big wave and competitive advantage. Additionally, nine out of 10 insurance executives believe a tailored approach will give companies a competitive edge. The firm says the ability to fulfill consumers’ needs at the “speed of now” will be the way to stay competitive, with the world available at consumers’ fingertips via smartphones.

Digital expectations have evolved, and there’s an opportunity to deliver a much better customer experience in the insurance industry. Technology has enabled a world of extreme customized and on-demand experiences. The insurance industry must harness this technology to deliver the superior customer experience that consumers are quickly coming to expect, to stay competitive.

This mobile-first, real-time delivery approach has influenced our marketing, design and development teams to focus on a highly mobile-optimized user experience in every aspect of our operation. We expect a mobile-focused push for the insurance industry in 2020, from both the carrier and broker/agent sides.

See also: Insurance Innovation’s Growth Challenge  

2. Analytics — Data analytics is growing across industries, given its potential to help businesses get ahead. Data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times more likely to retain them and 19 times more likely to be profitable, McKinsey Global Institute says. The insurance industry is no different.

The one constant across all our largest and most successful partners is their obsession with data and reliance on specialized technology. One such example is with customer relationship management (CRM) companies. CRM companies (Salesforce, and others) are developing industry-specific integrations, such as conversion endpoints, to track performance metrics, allowing for more real-time recording of important metrics. Insurance companies that take advantage of these tools have a major competitive advantage over those that do not, due to their ability to accurately measure and track important metrics like customer long-term-value (LTV), conversion rates of lead data and marketing return on investment (ROI).

3. Sales Enablement — Increasingly, carriers and agents are seeking more information, content and tools to engage buyers and help them to move to purchase, as well as address future needs post-purchase. Use of sales-enablement tools is on the rise, with only 20% of organizations reporting using them in 2013 and over 60% using them in 2019, according to CSO Insights. Agents want to understand who the lead is, what the person needs and how agents can best help drive more effective communications and fuel analytics and future programs. Agents also need these systems to work with other technologies—from mobile app, to CRM—to enable access to real-time information and a more seamless process.

4. Compliance — Compliance will and should remain a top priority for the industry. As consumer data protection becomes more of a focus in the media, we can expect to see more states moving toward a more European GDPR type data protection policy. California is one of the first states to adopt such a policy with the recently adopted California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which came into effect Jan. 1, 2020. With more legislation focused on protecting consumers, we expect a stronger push toward industry-standard software to verify a company’s right to contact consumers.

See also: Blurring Boundaries Drive Innovation  

In a world that is moving toward better technology solutions daily, it is important for carriers, brokers and agents to keep up with these changes and constantly look for ways to interact the way that digitally savvy consumers want to interact.

Insurers’ Imperative to Modernize

McKinsey recently published a paper titled IT Modernization in insurance: Three paths to transformation, in which the report authors say: “Insurers too often treat systems transformations as IT projects rather than acknowledging them for what they are: overall business transformations.”

For insurance, the transformation at hand is moving from a disconnected, product-centric sale to a hyper-connected, consumer-centric buying experience. The challenges are well-known and include analog processes, siloed data and a distribution strategy — consumer-adviser-insurer — that has traditionally left carriers one step removed from their own customers.

As McKinsey said, overcoming these challenges takes more than an IT project or two. Insurers need a framework for evaluating opportunities to modernize, and the best place to start is by taking a deep dive into the market drivers: customer acquisition and retention, as well as operational effectiveness and cost reduction.

Consumers Are the Key

This observation comes as a surprise to no one, yet a survey of insurance customers by Accenture found that declining loyalty and poor customer service has resulted in $470 billion in insurance premiums “up for grabs.” Clearly, our ability to meet modern consumer expectations is a business imperative.

There are two sets of consumers to keep top of mind as the insurance industry takes steps to modernize: the customers you already have and the consumers you are trying to convert. Both types are online (90% of adults in the U.S. use the internet, according to The Pew Research Center), so leveraging digital channels in our efforts to acquire and retain customers is a classic no-brainer.

Customer acquisition in the digital age presents an unprecedented opportunity to deliver an online, consumer-centric buying experience no matter what channel the sale converts through. In fact, agents continue to have a very important role to play in the insurance buying journey, so the more we can arm them with consumer data, collected from online interactions, the better. Moreover, by tracking client behavior and measuring conversion, companies are also learning about what works, and what doesn’t, which is increasingly imperative to maintaining competitiveness.

Likewise, digital channels and data are critical to retaining customers and building brand relationships. For example, car insurance companies track driver behavior, and health insurance companies are providing fitness trackers BECAUSE THEY WANT THE DATA to help manage and reduce risk. At the same time, these trackers are also enhancing customer relationships with the brand and potentially benefiting the customer by reducing rates based on behavior – a classic win win.

See also: Thinking Big for True Transformation  

When it comes to acquiring and retaining customers in the digital age, building relationships is critical, and data is how it’s done. Today’s consumers have different expectations, and there are typically many more touch points, resulting in more data that can be put to work in service of these relationships.

Operations: Managing Risk and Reducing Costs

Cost reduction and operational effectiveness are, for many businesses, the main driver for modernization, and the insurance industry is no different. When evaluating opportunities to modernize operations, consider where you are likely to get the biggest return.

Insurance professionals are in the business of reducing risk, so it stands to reason that risk management is an integral part of the business of insurance as well as a great example of where modern technology can deliver meaningful ROI. Data analytics makes it easier to identify riskier populations and customers, improve product development, targeting and underwriting and ultimately share risk more effectively. Data that isn’t available and actionable slows the pace of business, increases the chance of human error and limits the ability to make data-driven decisions.

Other opportunities to modernize and deliver savings include tackling distribution challenges, specifically reducing the cost of customer acquisition and improving agent efficiency. Another McKinsey report noted that the individual insurance companies that will outperform competitors over the next decade will do so, in part, by “using analytics to build competitive advantages in distribution.” Superior distribution networks enable insurers to reach new customers while keeping costs low to ensure profitability.

Next Steps

Perhaps you are on one (or more) of the three paths McKinsey describes: modernizing the legacy platform, building a proprietary platform or buying a standard software package. When the question is build vs. buy, conducting a thorough build-vs.-buy analysis is a great way to compare costs, timing, flexibility and user experience. It’s an effort, but worth it when you consider the cost of missed opportunities.

For example, insurtech disruptor Lemonade wrote $57 million in premiums in 2018 thanks to its consumer-centric buying experience — a $57 million missed opportunities for carriers that sell renters and homeowners insurance. Another much larger example is the middle market opportunity, which Accenture estimates to be around $12 trillion in missing coverage potential and $12 billion in revenue to be gained by serving it.

See also: How to Evolve the Business Model  

For some companies, the build-vs.-buy choice is easy. Partnering with an insurtech to address critical opportunities is typically much faster and less risky than other approaches. Regardless of the modernization path you choose, start with your top business challenges and identify opportunities for quick wins. Remember, modernization isn’t an IT project. Meeting modern consumer expectations is a business imperative; exceeding them is how insurers can stay relevant and competitive.

Do Consumers Trust Their Agents?

I just read this article, which includes this:

“According to an Accenture study, only 27% of consumers consider insurers to be trustworthy. And Deloitte found that only 11% of people have strong trust in insurance agents and brokers.”

I’ve seen studies like this over the years. What is usually missing from these statistics is the Q&A related to the insurer or agent OF the consumer. If you ask consumers if THEIR insurance agent is trustworthy, the numbers are almost always WAY higher than those above.

The same is often true of politicians…when the question just refers to “politicians,” polls imply that they are universally despised, But ask people what they think of a politician they voted for and the statistics are completely different.

As has been said, “Torture numbers, and they’ll confess to anything.”

The driving force behind insurance policy evolution is litigation and regulation where the difference in coverage, according to the courts, can be the tense of a verb or a punctuation mark.

See also: Insurtech and the Law of Large Numbers  

Berkshire just came out with a policy called “THREE” that combines property, business income, general liability, auto, professional liability, workers’ compensation and cyber liability (I’m probably forgetting something) insurance…IN THREE PAGES. And it’s going to be clear to business owners what is or isn’t covered?

Inarguably, the most important “customer experience” is the one that takes place at claim time. Insurance policies are complex, legal contracts whose terms and conditions have often been interpreted over decades. And the reality is that virtually no consumers read them…. Far too many insurance practitioners don’t even read them. I doubt that reducing dozens of pages to two to three pages will change that metric. When it comes to making contracts understandable, less is not necessarily more.

By the way, there is no such thing as “fine print” in regulated insurance policies.

The Revolution Is Finally Here

We are finally beginning to experience a long-awaited revolution in the insurance industry. Historically, insurance has been one of the last and slowest industries to embrace technology as a means of modernization and process innovation. The insurance industry is fragmented, without common standards, and until very recently did not attract many investment dollars, which exacerbated the general lack of incentive to modernize. However, in the past few years, we have seen signs of revitalization in the industry, and it is becoming an exciting time to be a part of the insurance community.

According to a report published by the National Institutes of Health, “Healthcare costs in the U.S. now account for 16% of the country’s gross domestic product, and per capita healthcare spending is approximately twice that of other major industrialized countries. Inefficiencies persist within the healthcare system because—in contrast to other economic sectors in which competition and other economic incentives act to reduce the level of waste—none of the healthcare system’s players have strong incentives to economize.”

It has been said that 40 manual workflows make up 25% of an insurer’s cost of doing business. A recent report by Newsweek–sponsored by Salesforce and Deloitte, which included a survey of 300 C-level insurance IT executives–found that in the quote-to-enroll process, only 4.5% of new business is “mostly” or “extensively” low-touch. About 52% of the processes used are achieved manually. When taking time to dive deep into their process, John Hancock discovered that even for one line of coverage, 120 steps could be condensed to seven and turnaround time reduced from several days to a few minutes.

See also: Key Technology Trends for Insurers in 2019  

Those of us who have been in the industry for some time are all too familiar with the time-consuming processes that have been used for decades, and there are a variety of players who have decided to do something about it. The past few years have seen an unprecedented amount of investment money flowing into the insurtech industry, which is beginning to change the market outlook as well as boost competition, which in turn is motivating startups and established companies alike to embrace change. We are beginning to see new partnerships and the building of the infrastructure necessary to overhaul the industry, enabling a new focus on user experience and connecting APIs instead of the endless custom work typically required in this industry.

There’s a new optimism in the insurance industry that is catching fire. According to a recent report by Accenture, “In five years, nearly all the insurance executives in our survey expect the industry to be transformed by digital technologies.” Further, the report found that 90% of insurance executives state they have a coherent, long-term plan for technology innovation in place. Quicker turnaround times, automated processes and good user experience translate to more new business, higher retention and lower employee frustration and, arguably, could help bring down the costs of healthcare overall.

There are at least three areas that need to be addressed to help the insurance industry to modernize and innovate. Insurance professionals would agree that the most common problems in the old processes are the incessant need to copy and paste, the aggravating issue of double entry and the frustration of having to cross-reference multiple sources to get accurate information. We need to break down silos, open up data and replace legacy systems to get these processes running more smoothly and quickly.

Breaking down silos

In Accenture’s report, “47% of survey respondents also say lack of collaboration with the IT function is preventing them from realizing their technology investments’ value.” From our own experience and years working in the benefits industry, I cannot tell you how many hours, days and months have been lost simply copying and pasting information from one Excel file into another, having to log into multiple systems to manually log information or to simply verify that the information needed to accomplish the task at hand is indeed accurate. Unlike other industries, there are very few APIs available that allow systems to communicate and connect with each other. Because of this lack of connectivity, many employees at insurance companies end up using up to five to 10 systems simply to complete their everyday tasks.

Automating

Once there begins to be a focus on modernizing and upgrading core systems, a carrier can begin to think about real efficiencies, including automation. Automating even a few of the top 40 manual processes would increase productivity and performance. Imagine the ability to:

  • Automate the confirmation of group information for a master data store to automatically verify its accuracy
  • Auto-ingest census information by machine reading
  • Consolidate account information into a single record
  • Provide one point of entry to populate multiple systems

Automating these processes not only leads to quicker turnaround times and better efficiency, but it also enables insurance professionals to close more new business and gives them a competitive edge and a way to stand out from those companies that may be slower to adapt to new technologies.

See also: 3 Steps to Succeed at Open Innovation  

Partnerships

Working with possible competitors, as well as vendors, is becoming increasingly important, and new levels of collaboration are necessary for companies that wish to thrive in the digital economy. There is no one system that does everything that an insurer needs; it simply does not exist at this point and may not exist for several years. McKinsey says that “ecosystems will account for 30% of global revenues by 2025” and that, “to succeed in ecosystems, insurers will have to take a hard look at their traditional roles and business models and to evaluate opportunities to partner with players in other industries.”

We are still facing an uphill climb to transform the insurance industry from stodgy to streamlined, but there are signs of a renewed energy and drive that show promise. As more and more insurance companies and partners see the value of digitization, automation and collaboration, everyone will benefit from a more connected ecosystem, and the insurance industry will do its part to make healthcare a more manageable, and possibly even satisfying, experience for the consumer.