Customers want to be in control. Focus on the tech tools that make that possible. (Photo: Farknot Architect/Adobe Stock)
There’s no doubt that technology is changing the insurance industry.
But before you jump on the bandwagon, it’s important to recognize that technology doesn’t always make insurance processes better.
Insurance companies can be divided into three categories based on their technology usage.
- In one category, we have the tech-forward. These are the companies that are using InsurTech innovations to speed up and revolutionize processes.
- We also have tech-enabled companies that integrate technology into key processes to make them more efficient. (These first two categories are good places for insurance firms to be.)
- In the third category, however, are the tech-shackled. These firms have adopted technology that actually interferes with insurance processes.
And that begs question: How can you avoid becoming a tech-shackled insurance company?
Consider the customer journey
InsurTech has become a buzzword, but technology has been a part of insurance processes for decades.
The goal should never be to adopt every new piece of technology that emerges. Instead, the goal should be to adopt the right technology to make the customer experience better.
Consider every step of the customer journey. For example:
- When customers want to learn about your company, can they easily find and navigate the information they need?
- When customers apply for coverage, is the underwriting process quick and painless?
- When customers call with a problem or to report a claim, can they get the help they need without having to jump through hoops?
One common problem occurs when customers call for help and end up being transferred from representative to representative. From the point of view of each representative, the process might seem fine. After all, the representative answers politely, offers to help and completes the necessary action of transferring the customer. From the customer’s perspective, however, it’s repetitive and frustrating.
The solution? Consider every step from the customer’s perspective. Then consider how technology can improve the customer experience.
Give customers the options they want
Customers want to be in control. Focus on the tech tools that make that possible.
Self-service options allow customers to get the information and help they need, when they need it and how they want it. For example, at RightSure, we integrated chatbots in 2019 and 2020, and we’ve had amazing results. After several months, the number of transactions surged rapidly. Customers wanted quick, convenient help — even after normal business hours — and chatbots made that possible.
Insurance customers also want to feel like they’re in charge of their coverage. More and more, this means offering new tech-enabled options, such as pay-by-mile.
During the pandemic, many people drove much less than they used to, and some people hardly drove at all. This led to frustration. Why were they paying for auto insurance they weren’t using? This question spurred many drivers to become interested in telematics and usage-based insurance options. It follows that CCC Information Services, Inc. found that 54% of drivers now say they’re comfortable sharing information on the miles they drive in exchange for pricing, compared to only 41% in 2019.
Use tech to elevate human performance
In a tech-shackled company, technology might create a barrier between customers and representatives. In a tech-forward or tech-enabled company, technology gives representatives the support they need to help customers.
For example, an AI program can help during the sales and underwriting process by ensuring that all necessary questions are asked and answered. AI programs can even help representatives become better listeners. Suppose an agent is monopolizing a conversation. The AI can point this out and prompt the agent to ask an open-ended question to get the customer talking.
Technology can also help customers reach human representatives when needed. For example, chatbots can be great, but they have their limitations. Sometimes, people need to speak to a human representative. Always make it easy for them to do this. The same goes for automated phone menus. Customers need to be able to reach a human without screaming “operator” at the program for 10 minutes straight.
Complicated issues often require a human touch. AI won’t change this, but it will give human representatives the tools and insights needed to deliver better customer experiences.
Adopt tech for the right reasons
It’s not just buzz: Technology really is changing insurance. And it can change insurance for the better — as long as every decision is made with an enhanced customer experience in mind.
Jeff Arnold ([email protected]) is president of Tucson-based RightSure, and author of “The Art of the Insurance Deal” and “How to Beat Your Insurance Company.” His articles on agency management best practices have been published in numerous insurance industry publications. To learn more, visit jeffarnold.com.
These opinions are the author’s own.
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