3 digital ways to improve the insurance customer experience in 2019

Today, a lot of insurance companies focus on technology as the key to solving problems. In the world of commercial lines insurance – just as in the world of personal lines – we like to think solving a problem is as easy as rolling out a new process or product. However, technology is just a tool, not an answer. It’s only effective if it helps create the seamless, effortless experiences that customers increasingly expect.

For customers, insurance is complicated. Regulations, legal requirements and bad habits have led to a traditionally poor customer experience. In a process that can take weeks, customers seeking insurance are faced with many different types of policies and coverages, each with different nuances. And then they’re presented with one of the most complex contracts they’ll ever be asked to sign. It’s financially inefficient too: By the time the policy payment gets to the carrier, several intermediaries have provided service and taken a cut.

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An employee works at a desktop computer in the product development department at the EBM-Papst GmbH ventilation system factory in Mulfingen, Germany, on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. While Germany benefits from its world-class autobahns for delivering goods, it lacks a comparable network for data, trailing Spain, Portugal and even Kazakhstan in high-speed Internet connections. Photographer: Dominik Osswald/Bloomberg

Then, when losses occur, handling a claim is just as complicated. In the immediate aftermath of financial or physical loss, customers may find themselves bounced from person to person as they seek answers, and often they don’t know where to turn with questions or for guidance.

Customers have choices. Across all industries, they’re empowered by online reviews and research when making purchasing decisions. Companies no longer win customers simply due to their marketing efforts. The buying process has been democratized, so many industries have shifted to a customer-centric model.

But the insurance industry has been slow to make this shift. It continues to provide the same complex and disjointed customer experience, focusing mainly on delivering the right coverage and costs. So instead of simply selling insurance, the industry needs to change the conversation to risk management.

As the first step in creating a positive customer experience, insurance professionals should ask, how can I help your business be more effective and stay in business? The conversation can then shift beyond simply selling a policy. Instead, the insurer can also provide a service by examining risks and supplying tools to mitigate them.

These tools will often be technology based, but again, that doesn’t make them the complete answer. Technology must simply be one of the ways we create a seamless and positive customer experience. Here are three different technologies and some ways they can be used to create a more customer-centric industry:

  • Digital platforms – By using targeted logical questions in a digital format, insurance companies get the information they need with less burden on the customer. Smart forms change the questions based on the customer’s answers. Agents then have the exact information they need based on the specific customer. Underwriters then use that digital information to make a quick decision about rates and charges.
  • Internet of things – Instead of just providing insurance, Argo wants to reduce – and possibly eliminate – risks. Products such as our IoT-based thermometers let restaurants monitor food and prevent spoilage that causes foodborne illnesses. Argo also helps supermarkets reduce falls with IoT technology. By tracking how often employees walk around the floor, the technology looks for potential fall risks and provides guidance on eliminating them.
  • Artificial intelligence – Insurers need to know what is likely to happen in the future. AI technology analyzes data to better predict risk and also to give insurers a better understanding of their customers, helping predict which customer will buy which kind of policy and coverage. Insurers use the data collected from partners and policyholders to run algorithms that help make smarter business decisions, such as detecting fraud and finding new sources of revenue.

As the insurance industry continues invest in technologies like these, it must always look at how the technology can help deliver optimal end results for its customers and avoid letting the capabilities of the technology drive the customer experience.By working at every step to keep the customer front of mind, the insurance industry can use technology to dramatically change both the customer experience – and the customer perception of the industry itself.

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