In the insurance industry, as well as most other industries, we know that technology plays a vital role.
In the insurance industry, as well as most other industries, we know that technology plays a vital role. From marketing to sales to claims, underwriting and data warehousing, every department is highly dependent on the latest “InsureTech”. Other areas where technology has become vitally important are customer engagement and self-servicing. However, there are some markets in the insurance industry that convince themselves that not all IT advancements apply to them. Those companies hear about insurance technology companies (like TundraLogic, Inc.) who offer cutting-edge communication and visualization tools like IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems and consumer portals and they think, “My insured are used to talking to their agents/our CSRs”. They hear about intuitive Producer and Admin portals that integrate with, and yet function outside of, their current system(s) and they think, “Our producers/underwriters have a hard enough time with the two (or three, or four) systems we already have.” Or, “Our products are too diverse for that to apply to us”. Stop fooling yourself!
More than anything, today’s insured and producers want convenience. No matter if the policy is simple or complex. A high touch product or one that is “set it and forget it”. You need to do business when, where and how your customers want, not how you want.
Below are just a few of the benefits of providing policyholders with self-service options:
Savings - paying pennies per payment processed through automated channels vs a human employee.
Productivity – Every minute your policyholders and producers self-service is time that your employees can spend on other critical job functions.
Convenience - allowing policyholders and agencies to self-serve by making payments, viewing policy information, endorsing policies, and printing policy documents 24 hours a day.
Improved service levels - customers don’t need to sit on queue, waiting for “the next available representative”.
Retention (1) – Customers pending cancellation can make their payment at all hours, not just when their agent or the call center is open.
Retention (2) – Outbound reminders ensure that policyholders don’t miss important deadlines on cancellations, renewals, and submitting necessary underwriting information.
Satisfaction – Both internally and externally.
Recently I helped a mutual carrier switch from manual processes to interactive producer/admin/insured portals and an IVR that handles both inbound and outbound transactions*. This carrier’s products were spread between three disparate systems at various levels of being obsolete. They were also processing 100% of their premium payments manually. All payments were either processed over the phone (by a CSR) or via paper billing, which also required manual entry. This company understandably had some initial skepticism as to how these new interfaces would be received. After all, every technology company they had encountered in the past had let them down in one way or another. Also, most of their policies and policyholders were not high touch. Many were on paid-in-full billing instead of monthly installments. There were also no personal automobile risks. In fact, most of their book was comprised of high value homes and light commercial exposures. To track adoption we reviewed multiple metrics. The most dramatic of which was self-service, online and IVR premium payments. Within three months of launching the new online portals and IVR, this carrier’s manual payment processing dropped by 87%! To illustrate, in June this carrier collected 8,541 total payments and only 1,111 were processed manually by an employee. At an average of 6 minutes per transaction, that is 111 hours of productivity per month that their customer service representatives, underwriters and accounting staff can focus on other critical job functions.
Don’t let yourself fall behind the competition by thinking your policyholder / customer doesn’t want, or doesn’t care about, the newest technology. And, if you think your producers won’t find another carrier for that risk because your current system or UW process is too cumbersome, think again!
*Outbound IVR: sends outbound, automated reminders about upcoming events such as cancellations, renewals and requests for underwriting information.