Tag Archives: customer satisfaction

Self-Service Portals Improve CX

Customer experience (CX) has become the most significant differentiator in today’s market, and Gartner’s research proves it with hard numbers: 81% of companies expect CX to be the key battleground in the race for market dominance.

Unfortunately, the insurance sector has traditionally been more product- than customer-focused. This discrepancy now makes insurance companies rethink their attitude toward doing business and become more customer-oriented.

Technologically, a good place for insurers to start this shift could be to adopt an online self-service portal. The numbers prove that it’s quite in demand: 88% of U.S. customers expect an organization to have a self-service portal.

If tailored well, a portal might help insurers to get closer to their customers, increase their loyalty and improve service quality, all of which greatly contribute to the overall CX.

Let’s break down how exactly self-service portals boost CX for insurance businesses.

  • First, portals help insurers deliver their services in more accessible and convenient ways. Portals let policyholders submit a claim, pay a policy and look up their recent activities any time and from any location, so there’s no more need for customers to visit an office. This also means no need to spend time on commuting there as well as filling in any paper blanks: The system will store all the details. Also, as far as insurers don’t have to process claims manually, they can focus entirely on verifying their legitimacy and accelerating further steps. As a result, claim approvals speed up.
  • Besides accessibility and simplicity, security defines self-service portals. As web developers from Iflexion rightly note, industry trends come and go, but security concerns are here to stay for both businesses and their customers. With all the relevant security mechanisms in place, self-service portals let policyholders safely sign up for insurance plans, pay for policies and navigate their account history, paying no heed to cybersecurity risks.
  • Search-optimized content is another reason why self-service portals are worth considering. Customers prefer searching for an answer online before contacting an assistant. That’s why it can be reasonable for insurers to use self-service portals as platforms with helpful information. For example, such information can include reviews of different insurance types, terms and conditions, pricing plans and answers to common questions. In the latter case, a page with frequently asked questions (FAQ) might be useful. Users can navigate such a well-organized knowledge base faster, with no need to dig through tons of other information.
  • If customers fail to find information, they’ll need to consult an assistant. By giving your customers access to live chat or other contact options, self-service portals establish easier ‘insurer-policyholder’ communication.
  • Another benefit of adopting portals is all about personalization, the staple of today’s consumer culture. For insurers, self-service portals can make one-on-one service a reality through some simple personalization options such as customized toolbars, reorganized sections with billing transactions, claims and policies, as well as cross- and upselling recommendations.

Think about the “recently viewed” section that returns policyholders to their latest activities. Users won’t have to search their browsing history but get immediate access to what they’ve looked through. As a result, customers get an easy access to their own personal activity feed.

Not by CX Alone

To sum up: Self-service portals boost CX in insurance as customers can receive personalized and secure services faster, search for information more effectively and get in touch with support assistants more easily.

See also: 9 Elements for Customer Portals 

However, there are other reasons to adopt a self-service portal apart from CX improvements:

  • Insurers can automate routine tasks such as filling in and submitting reimbursement requests. This partially frees staff for other tasks such as insurance data check or claim legitimacy verification.
  • Insurers can lower their support costs: A well-maintained FAQ section can save your support staff’s working hours and, by extension, associated costs.
  • A self-service portal can also reduce paper and printing costs. It might seem a little thing, but it’s not: Considering yearly volumes, printing becomes an essential budget-drainer.
  • Digitally stored histories of customers’ activities accelerate the insurance claim process, as there is no more need to go through piles of paper forms.

The good news is, a self-service portal can start paying off nearly immediately. As it picks up traffic and starts bringing value to your customers, you’ll see your support team unloaded and customers’ satisfaction steadily rising.

Even in Big Data Era, Relationships Count

If the buzz of the P&C insurance conference circuit is to be believed, whizbang new technology and “big data” analytics provide the answers to every problem the industry has ever experienced. More precise risk projections, streamlined customer service functions, 24/7 automated support, claims investigation – they’re all getting better with new technology, and the industry is investing heavily to keep pace.

However, while there is no question that carriers need to build better technology and secure better data, neither technology nor data alone will fundamentally improve the customer experience.

According to findings in the 2018 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power, a positive customer experience isn’t driven by which carrier has the slickest photo app, uses drones to survey properties or has streamlined the first notice of loss (FNOL) process to be highly efficient. Instead, customers want to feel their carrier has their back in a time of stress or crisis. Customers simply want to understand that everything is going to be okay; they want to know how the claim process will run; and they want someone to care enough to keep them informed about their loss. Technology can fill some of these customer needs, but before the technology or any type of enhanced processes can be effective, someone must set the right expectations.

See also: 3-Step Approach to Big Data Analytics 

Consider the Insurance Information Institute’s evaluation of homeowner claims from 2011 to 2015, which indicates that one in 15 insured homes has a claim each year. Excluding catastrophes, the claim frequency for homeowners is quite small, which means most customers have no idea what to expect when they have a loss. Beyond their lack of claim experience, there is also the emotional toll a homeowner loss takes on a customer. The empathy and guidance provided when a customer reports a claim can truly determine whether the customer’s claim experience will be successful.

Regardless of the severity or nature of the loss being reported, the carrier must set the right expectations at the beginning of the process. The customer needs to understand what will be covered, how the process will work and how long the claim process will take. Once these expectations have been set, the carrier must effectively manage the process to ensure the schedule is being met and communicate with the customer about whether the process is on track, or, if it isn’t, communicate even more frequently and in more detail. J.D. Power research on property claims has found that customers whose claim took more than 18 days to settle – which would normally create a very low customer satisfaction score – are more satisfied with the process than are those customers whose claims were settled in less than five days. The difference in satisfaction scores is based on having met customer expectations (in fact, the customer satisfaction delta in the 2018 J.D. Power study between meeting customer expectations and missing them is more than 100 points). Creating a speedy process without setting the right expectations does not improve customer satisfaction. If anything, a speedy process can hurt.

Setting the right expectations leads to creating the right experience. To a claim professional, a simple fast-tracked water claim may be part of their daily routine, but for the customer, such a loss could be the worst thing that has happened to them in a long time. Without showing empathy for what the customer is going through, the process might be efficient, but it likely won’t be effective. Artificial intelligence technology can certainly help align the right adjuster to the kind of loss being reported, as well as scrub the claim for potential fraud, help align reserves or even trigger a faster payment. However, there also must be a human element to the process.

For many carriers, the agent is the source for this empathy and is generally the one to set the level for customer expectations. Yet, as more claim operations move to a direct digital or customer care center, the FNOL process is shifting from the agent (who normally has a personal relationship with the customer) to a faceless website or a call center, where in many cases the process overrides the personal experience. A digital FNOL or a call center is not necessarily a bad approach. Indeed, quite a few carriers have successfully used these channels to handle claims, and digital with a call center or chat function is certainly the wave of the future. But without some personal way to create a level of empathy, the resulting lack of concern and guidance creates a customer who does not feel comfortable with what is happening. When such a customer doesn’t feel at ease, customer satisfaction suffers. Even Gen Y customers (who embrace technological transactions more readily than older customers) find a personal touch at the time of the loss to be a more satisfying experience than using a digital FNOL process.

Throughout the claim process, the carrier must maintain a clear, active line of communication with the customer. Simply sending a text notifying the customer that something has changed with a claim is not a sufficient level of communication if the carrier wants to provide a high level of satisfaction. Such a text needs to be informative by letting the customer know what has changed, as well as include what effect it might have on the claim (either good or bad), and it must provide enough information so that the customer doesn’t feel the need to call the agent or the carrier.

See also: Strategies to Master Massively Big Data  

J.D. Power’s insurance industry research affirms that carriers with the most successful claim operations understand how to balance the customer experience with the need for internal efficiencies. Using technology and data analytics as tools to reduce the level of stress and effort for their customers is a clear pathway to developing not only a strong customer experience, but also an enhanced return on investment.

Innovation: How to Wear the ‘Uber Hat’

It all began with reports of eroding books of business, price wars and marketing dollars not accounting for conversions of prospects into customers (or not in any visible manner, anyway). Then the CEO made that big “I’m back from a conference speech” and wanted to share. Suddenly, we’ve established a deadline to implement Net Promoter Score (NPS) at the enterprise level, and a whole playbook is being designed. Sound familiar?

NPS can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customers. It measures who is promoting our brand versus who is likely to detract and therefore take their business elsewhere. We soon realize that the costs of exceeding customer expectations are high, while the payoffs are minimal. We know from experience that customers are much more likely to punish bad service than to reward good service. Having your problems resolved easily is a much better predictor for satisfaction than the exceeding of expectations.

Improving the customer experience by making the customer journey easy is of greater significance to any brand. This philosophy requires different measurements, like the Customer Effort Score (CES), which is superior to Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) in predicting consumer behavior.

See also: What Is the Right Innovation Process?  

In the end, consumers to have a job done and will back brands that help them get the job done faster, better and cheaper. Achieving this for your consumers not only requires meeting current needs but anticipating future needs by inventing a future that is interesting and sexy and serves a purpose.

This requires moving from data to analytics, customer segmentation to ease of doing business and ideas that sell to ideas that are bought. We have started shifting the paradigm, mental models and mindsets. The future is in its making, and the applications are only limited by our imagination.

In the world of innovation, which lies at the fringes of most organizations or fills the gaps in between, we keep asking all the wrong questions. We all want frictionless technology solutions, but the focus can’t be on which technologies are enabling us or who we’ve partnered with. The focus needs to be on why we are innovating and at what scale.

Let’s consider the value proposition for transporting people from A to B. We must ask ourselves, what are the jobs to be done before that journey, during that journey and after that journey from the consumer’s point of view. I call this exercise wearing the “Uber Hat.” The jobs to be done before the journey may include finding a driver nearby, knowing how long it’ll take for the driver to arrive and figuring out if the fare is coming out of personal or business expenses. Once on the journey, the jobs to be done may include picking up a friend or colleague, knowing how long the journey will take in real-time or sharing the ride. After the journey, the jobs are knowing how much it cost, receiving a receipt for payment (especially for expense claims on business trips) and recovery of items left behind in the car.

Uber has thought about everything! It’s even started services that assist people in emerging markets to hail a ride without the app or the need for credit card payments. Who would want to take a taxi when you’ve experienced Uber’s service and quality of care?

See also: Is Insurance Having an Uber Moment?  

When we are wearing the Uber Hat, we think and act like Uber. We are able to design solutions that are globally relevant, apply to any business or market and withstand the challenges in our way, no matter how big they may seem to others. Throw creative thinking and industry expertise into the mix, and you’ve got a winning formula for the application of human-centered design that has proven its success across borders. This is the difference between a market leader and a follower.

I’m only here to present concepts. The choice is yours. If you don’t make that choice, ultimately the consumer will.

6 Key Ways to Drive Innovation

Insurers and intermediaries know that innovation has the potential to disrupt their current business and operating models. And they know that they need to innovate faster than their competitors to defend and grow their business. Yet few have found a winning formula for embedding innovation into their people, products or processes.

Feeling the disruption

The fact that new technologies, innovations and business models are changing the dynamics of the insurance market is clear. More than eight in 10 insurance executives responding to our recent survey, Innovation in Insurance, said that they believe their organization’s future success to be tied closely to their ability to innovate ahead of their competitors.

But with new entrants, new technologies and new business models emerging at an increasingly rapid pace, many insurers are also concerned that innovation will bring more disruption than value. Many are already feeling the heat. In fact, almost half of our survey respondents said that their business models were already being disrupted by new, more nimble competitors.

For some, the risk of disruption and the opportunity for competitive advantage is driving a renewed focus on innovation. In a recent interview with John Geyer, senior vice president of MetLife’s innovation program, for the report, A New World of Opportunity: The innovation imperative, he said: “If somebody’s going to disrupt our industry, it might as well be us.”

Indeed, new technologies are reducing losses and costs while saving lives and increasing customer satisfaction, reducing risks and driving new business models and consolidation within the industry. New advances such as driverless cars, machine learning, home sensors and “robo-agents” empowered with artificial intelligence and mobile payments offer a world of opportunity for insurers.

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The capacity and capability to innovate

While many insurers recognize the vast possibilities that innovation brings, many seem reluctant to be first out of the gate. This is not entirely surprising; most organizations responding to our survey reported that they lack the hallmarks of an innovative organization, such as dedicated budgets, formal strategies, executive-level support and measurement processes.

Even those that want to take first- mover advantage (as almost a third of our respondents’ claim they wanted) face significant challenges catalyzing innovation. In part, this comes down
to capacity: 79% of respondents across the globe told us that they were already running at full tilt just keeping up with their core requirements.

Capability is also a key concern. Lack of skills and capability was ranked by 74% of respondents as a top three barrier to innovation, particularly for smaller and mid-sized organizations and those based in Europe. Simply put, insurers know what they need to do to drive innovation but recognize they lack certain skills to achieve it.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 1.00.28 PM

To be fair, most insurers have certainly been working hard to improve their innovation strategy and capabilities. Many have already implemented cultural change programs focused on fostering innovation and training programs to develop idea generation and innovation skills. Others have put their sights on widening their innovation ecosystem by engaging in partnerships with academics, FinTechs and other third parties to drive innovation. Some have even changed their business models or created innovation “hubs” or “labs.”

Lessons from leaders

Our experience suggests that while all of these previous initiatives are valuable, few organizations have been bold enough in their objectives or their execution to truly drive change. Based on our research, our interviews and our experience, we have identified six key ways that leading insurers are becoming more innovative.

  1. They are focusing on creating a customer-centric culture. While more than half of respondents say they have conducted a cultural change program in the past five years, our experience suggests that they may have focused their efforts in the wrong area. Rather than trying to become more innovative, insurers may instead want to become more customer-centric, which, in turn, will drive innovation.
  2. They are willing to disrupt their existing business models. Doing more of the same, only faster, is not a recipe for long-term growth. Leading insurance players recognize the need to innovate not only product and service development, but also how they approach innovation itself. Insurers and intermediaries need to be willing to try new models and partner with new stakeholders to truly compete in an innovation-led competitive marketplace.

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  1. They apply agile and dedicated leadership. Innovation requires leadership, strong executive support and clear vision. There’s no secret engine behind a door that creates innovative energy for an organization. It’s not about having the best game plan; it’s about having a coach who knows which players to put in the field to execute on the game plan. That’s how goals are scored.
  2. They mitigate risk by investing and experimenting. The best companies have discovered ways to link their investments to the expected frequency and severity of risks to ensure they are appropriately matching investment to risk. They have started to experiment with new business models. Looking at the viability of their current business model and the role of technology in their competitive strategy, they are also exploring new business models and businesses as the profile of risk changes.
  3. They understand why they are investing. While most organizations report that they measure their return on their innovation investments in some way or another, the leading insurers are working to ensure that they have the right alignment with business objectives and are broadening their metrics beyond simple financial ROI calculations to include more subjective measures such as public reputation or customer engagement.
  4. They learn from others. We believe partnerships will be key to future success, but we need the right structures, models and infrastructure to create value. Large organizations need to learn to partner, and all organizations need to learn to partner effectively. Consider alliances with partners outside of insurance to accelerate customer benefits and expand the value chain.

The road ahead

Our research and discussions with established and start-up players suggest that — to make the most of this new world of opportunity — the insurance industry needs to pivot from a traditionally risk-averse culture to one that encourages experimentation while mitigating financial risk.

To achieve this, insurers will need to tap into new sources of innovation, accessing fresh ideas from employees, customers, investors and partners, which, in turn, will require progressive leadership at the top of the organization.

The innovation imperative is clear for insurers. Now it’s time to make the most of the world of opportunities that exists for those bold and innovative enough to seize these opportunities to create competitive advantage.

Reprinted from (Regulatory Challenges Facing the Insurance Industry in 2016,) Copyright: 2016 KPMG LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership and the U.S. member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. The KPMG name and logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of KPMG International.

All information provided is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act upon such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the facts of a particular situation.

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Insurance Disrupted: Silicon Valley’s Map

With $5 trillion in premiums, an incredibly low level of customer satisfaction, aging infrastructures, an analytically based, high-volume business model and a “wait until we have to” approach to innovation, insurance is now fully in the sights of the most disruptively innovative engine on the planet, Silicon Valley. The tipping point for insurance is here.

More than 75 digitally born companies in Silicon Valley, including Google and Apple, are redefining the rules and the infrastructure of the insurance industry.

Inside the Insurance Tipping Point – Silicon Valley | 2016

It’s one thing to listen to all of the analysts talk about the digitization of insurance and the disruptive changes it will bring. It’s quite another to immerse yourself in the amazing array of companies, technologies and trends driving those changes. This post is the first of a series that will give you an inside look at the visions, culture and disruptive innovation accelerating the digital tipping point for insurance and the opportunities that creates for companies bold enough to become part of it. (Join us at #insdisrupt.)

Venture firms are catalysts for much of Silicon Valley’s innovation, and insurance has their attention. Frank Chen of Andreessen Horowitz sees software as rewriting the insurance industry, AXA insurance has established an investment and innovation presence here. Others, including Lightspeed VenturesRibbit Capital and AutoTech Ventures, are investing in data and analytics, new insurance distribution plays and other technologies that will change the shape of insurance.

New business models: MetromileZenefitsStride HealthCollective HealthClimate Corp., Trov and Sureify, are using technologies to redefine and personalize insurance and the experience customers have with it.

Rise of the Digital Ecosystem – Expanding the Boundaries of Insurance

Digital ecosystems are innovation catalysts and accelerators with power to reshape industry value chains and the world economy. They dramatically expand the boundaries within which insurance can create value for customers and increase the corners from which new competitors can emerge.

Silicon Valley is home to companies acutely aware of how to establish themselves as a dominant and disruptive platform within digital ecosystems. That includes Google, which is investing heavily in the automobile space with Google Compare and self-driving vehicles and has acquired Nest as an anchor in the P&C/smart homes market. Fitbit is already establishing health insurance partnerships. And let’s not forget Apple. The Apple Watch already has insurance-related partners. Apple has clear plans for the smart home market and has recently launched AutoPlay, its anchor entry into the auto market. There are rumors that Apple plans to develop an iCar. And that’s just what we know about.

There are a host of other companies placing digital ecosystem bets in Silicon Valley, as well: GE, which is driving the Industrial Internet of Things; Parstream, with an analytic platform built for IoT; the IoT consortiumJawboneEvidation HealthMisfit Wearablesicontrol NetworkGM and its advanced technology labcarvi; and DriveFactor, now part of CCC Information Services.

Then there are the robotics companies, including 3D robotics, the RoboBrain project at Stanford University and Silicon Valley Robotics, an association of makers.

Customer Engagement and Experience – New Digital Rules, New Digital Playbook.

When your customer satisfaction and trust is one of the lowest in the world and companies like Apple and Google enter your market place, it’s really time to pay attention. There is a customer value-creation and design led innovation culture in the valley unrivaled in the world, and the technology to back it up. Companies like Genesys, and Vlocity are working on perfecting the omni channel expereince. Hearsaysocial and, declara, are working on next gen social media to help customers and the insurance industry create better relationships. Many of the next generation of insurance products will be context aware, opening the door to new ways of reaching and supporting customers. Companies like mCube and Ejenta, are working to provide sensor based insight and the analytics to act on it. TrunomiBeyond the Ark, and DataSkill via cognitive intelligence are developing new innovative ways to use data & analytics to better understand and engage customers. Lifestyle based insurance models are being launched like Adventure Adovcates and Givesurance, And some of digital marketing automation’s most innovative new players like Marketo, and even Oracle’s Eloqua are rewriting and enabling a new digital generation of marketing best practices.

Big Data and Analytics – Integrated Strategies for the New “Digital” Insurance Company

The techno buzz says big data and analytics are going to affect every business and every business operation. When you are a data- and analytics-driven industry like insurance that deals with massive amounts of policies and transactions, that buzz isn’t hype, it’s a promise.

The thing about big data and analytics is that when they are used in operational silos, they provide a tactical advantage. But when a common interoperable vision and roadmap are established, analytics create a huge strategic advantage. That knowledge and the capability to act on it is built into the DNA of “born digital” entries into the insurance market like Google.

The number of companies working on big data and analytics within the valley is staggering. We have already discussed a few in the Customer Engagement section above. Here are a few more, In the area of risk: RMS is building its stable of talent in the big data spaceActian is delivering lightning-fast Hadoop analytics; Metabiota is providing epidemic disease threat assessments; and Orbital Insights is providing geo-based image analysis. In the areas of claims and fraud, PalantirScoreDataTyche and SAS are adding powerful capabilities for insurance. Improved operational effectiveness is being delivered by Saama Technology, with an integrated insurance analytics suite; by Prevedere, with data-driven predictive analytics; by Volumetrix, with people analytics; and by Sparkling Logic, which helps drive faster and more effective decision making.

Insurance Digitized | Next Generation Core Systems

With insurance boundaries expanding, integration with digital ecosystems, increasing reliance on analytics and the demand for personalized and contextualized outcome- and services-based insurance models, core systems will have huge new sets of requirements placed on them. The requirement for interoperability between systems and data and analytics will grow dramatically.

Companies like GuidewireISCS and SAP are building a new generation of cloud-based systems. Scoredata and Pokitdoc are bringing new capabilities to claims. SplunkSymantec and FireEye are addressing emergent cyber risks. And companies like Automation EverywhereOcculus RiffSuitable Technologies and Humanyze are enabling the digitally blended and augmented workforce.

The latest investment wave includes artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning, which core systems will need to incorporate.

Surviving the Tipping Point – Becoming One of the Disruptive Leaders

This is a small sampling of the technologies, trends and companies just within Silicon Valley that are shaping the digital future of insurance. The changes these will drive are massive, and they are only the tip of the iceberg.

An Insurance Tech meetup group open to all the insurance-related companies within Silicon Valley was just announced by Guillaume Cabrere, CEO of AXA Labs, and already has 64 members. For established companies to survive the tipping point and thrive on the other side of it requires more than handing “digital transformation” off to the CIO or marketing team. Success requires a C-Suite that has become an integral part of the community and culture building the digital generation of insurance companies.

For technology companies and next-generation insurance companies, success requires building partnerships with established and emerging players.

This blog series is designed to inform and accelerate that dialog and partnering formation. It will include a series of interviews with disruptive leaders from industry and Silicon Valley. If you or your company would like to be a part of that series, please let me know.

Join us for the next Insurance Disrupted Conference – March 22-23, 2016 l Silicon Valley


ITL readers receive a 15% discount when registering here.