Insurers and agents are continuing to look for ways to improve the customer experience, and technology tools for communications and document management have critical roles to play in this effort, according to a new report from Strategy Meets Action, an insurance strategic advisory firm.

The report, “Improving the Customer Experience Through Communications and Document Management,” covers the P&C and life and annuity segments of the market in North America, and how insurers plan to capture, create, manage and deliver digital content.

Insurers are continuing to invest in enhancing customer communications, enterprise content management, contact centers and e-delivery, Strategy Meets Action (SMA) said. And in the areas of customer communications and document management, firms have shifted their focus from digitization for cost reduction to digital solutions for improved customer experiences.

"The quest to improve the customer and producer experience is driving significant change at many insurance companies,” said Mark Breading, a partner at SMA. “Technology for communications and document management has a major role to play in improving those experiences."

The study findings are based on interviews and a survey of 112 insurance professionals conducted from the fourth quarter of 2013 through January 2014. Among the key findings are that agents and producers continue to handle most of the interactions with customers, although many new investments by insurers are focused on digital channels.

About two thirds (62 percent) of insurers are investing in web self-service projects in 2014; and more than half of them have significant projects underway for e-billing and e-delivery. Insurers also are continuing to optimize print centers to fund e-delivery and digital channel initiatives, according to the report. And some 53 percent now have a shared services approach for high volume printing, up from 43 percent in 2012.

"A strategic shift is occurring, with insurers now energized around customer-centric strategies and improving the customer experience, instead of just focusing on cost reduction and transaction efficiencies,” Breading says. “This is resulting in new investments and approaches for customer communications and document management."

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