By: Larry Hogan, Account Executive at Smart Communications
So far in 2020, insurers have had to find unique ways to quickly respond and adapt to a unprecedented level of disruption. The good news is, depending on the approach, 2020 also brought an unexpected opportunity for insurers to be champions for digital change – setting an example for how digital transformation should be embraced when we settle into a new normal.
Here are a few common challenges facing insurance companies today, and how adopting a digital-first approach to communications will help insurers become more resilient.
Claims Volume Fluctuations
Depending on the area of insurance that you’re in, claims volumes have likely either significantly increased or decreased in recent months. For P&C insurers, as more people are required to work from home and vacation plans have been altered, the number of traffic accidents are dropping. Fewer accidents means fewer claims. While some P&C insurance carriers have made some progress toward digital transformation, when it comes to automation, much of the industry is still heavily reliant on manual processing and in-person interactions. The good news is, reduced claims volume provides an opportunity for P&C insurers to find new ways to connect with customers. Consumer Federation of America recently reported that 80 percent of American auto insurers have announced that they will refund or credit drivers more than $6.5 billion over the next two months. Touchpoints like this are great opportunities to keep customers engaged and loyal – so it’s important that your business is digitally equipped to deliver these types of communications quickly and efficiently.
On the contrary, health insurance companies have seen a significant increase in claims that need to be processed quickly. Life insurance companies have also experienced an increased demand for policy applications and new account openings. Fabric, a provider of instant online life insurance says it has seen a 50 percent increase in life insurance applications since mid-February. Similarly, LifeQuotes, a national online life insurance agency, reports a 29 percent increase in applications requested since January 20. One way to adjust for a volume overload is to leverage a modern claims automation solution, which provides faster cycle times, increases employee productivity and ultimately yields higher customer satisfaction.
In both cases, either an increase in claims submissions or a decrease in claims submissions, insurers have been reminded of the importance of being a trusted resource to their customers all the time. It’s crucial to process claims quickly and effectively, but it’s also just as critical to the long-term relationship to maintain open lines of communications in between key milestones as well.
Call Center Overload
During a time of uncertainty, it’s easy to understand why customers would have more questions that usual and might want to seek out customer service representatives for assurance. Many insurance companies are seeing surges in operational volume with new claims being filed, general coverage and billing questions, and response to government mandated actions or new programs – the list goes on. As a result, insurance companies have experienced a spike in call center volume as individuals seek out immediate responses. If customers can’t reach you by phone due to high volumes and can no longer participate in the insurance processes that rely on face-to-face or paper-based transactions, you run the risk of losing the trust and personal touch that keeps customers loyal.
To ensure a consistent level of service during peak times, insurers have no choice but to rely on digital channels to communicate with their policyholders. With reduced mail and print processing and the delays that physical communications can be subject to, there’s a significant need to be able to process applications and correspondence faster. These challenges have forced those who lag behind in digital to catch up. According to VentureBeat, some companies are positioning AI as a solution to service gaps. While the use of AI and automation has been top-of-mind for many forward-thinking companies, most insurance companies still lack the digital tools and platforms needed to meet today’s on-demand customer expectations. Insurers should use this time as an opportunity to explore automated solutions, like chatbots, self-service portals, and mobile apps, which provide new communication channels that enable policyholders to engage in two-way conversations. These types of digital-first communication methods lead to smarter conversations and more consistent interactions throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
Finding the Solution Through Digital-first Communications
As customers become used to digital interactions as the new norm, there will be a changing level of expectation in how they are communicated with from now on. Life will not go back to normal – there will be a new level of expectation around digital-first communications. This is actually some much-needed good news. The changes made now will last long into the future– providing customers the digital-first experience they’ve been desiring can be achieved by embracing a modern cloud-based solution.
Are you ready to engage in SMARTER digital conversations with your customers? Connect with us today and we’ll show you how we can help.