5 crucial insurance questions for the post-COVID 'new normal'

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We are now several months into the coronavirus pandemic and it is clear that the crisis has rewritten the rules for customer engagement, business processes and technology. Insurers understand that the customer experience is critical during the claims process otherwise they risk customer attrition. J.D. Power’s 2020 satisfaction survey found that insurance customers are 13.5 times more likely to shop for a new policy if claims were too cumbersome to resolve. While a number of factors play a role in resolving claims, one of the most important drivers of a positive customer experience is an insurer’s operational processes.

Insurers who ask tough questions about their operations and re-consider the way things have always been done will be well-positioned to thrive in the next normal. It’s vital for insurers to evaluate how to become more digitally efficient, how to enhance the customer experience by connecting historically disparate processes, and ways they can effectively bring critical customer data directly into core operational processes.

The following five questions will help leaders at insurance companies evaluate if there are opportunities within their organizations to enhance their processes in a manner that impacts operational efficiency, compliance, and the customer experience. After all, the best way for insurers to maintain business continuity and thrive on the other side of current crisis is by getting smarter about people, processes and content.

1. Is my organization digitally efficient?
According to research by KPMG about the shift in tech investments amid COVID-19, many executives are optimistic spending will increase in the next 12 months, as enterprises recognize COVID-19 created a burning platform to accelerate digital transformation and stimulate long-term growth. However, companies that are truly digitally efficient go beyond simply digitizing analog processes, they leverage real-time data to inform future strategies.

For insurance organizations, maintaining business continuity is about much more than simply going digital. It’s about becoming digitally efficient. This involves attaining a new level of operational efficiency that enables companies to serve their customers in a responsive, timely and personalized way.

Especially during a crisis, customers want – and often need – accessible customer service channels, fast response times, and the timely resolutions of claims and grievances. This is only possible when organizational processes, especially siloed and disparate processes, are integrated and working in tandem. Siloed processes often cause bottlenecks that can affect the customer experience in ways that are particularly impactful during a crisis.

2.Are my business-critical processes connected and integrated?
Many front-line customer engagement and back-end operations are often very separate and idiosyncratic process functions. For most insurers, these functions don’t talk to each other and typically have competing interests and attention for budgets, resources and technologies. However, to ensure seamless operations and reliable customer experiences, it’s important to connect these historically disparate processes. Leaders in insurance are waking up to the fact that the customer experience is deeply influenced by underlying operational efficiencies throughout the organization.

3. Am I able to detect suspicious activity within my workflows?
Attaining visibility into customer interactions and behavioral patterns not only ensures operational efficiency but also goes a long way in protecting against crimes, preventing fraud and demonstrating compliance. It’s usually during times of upheaval when fraud and petty crimes run high, making it imperative for insurance organizations to have a bird-eye view of all their processes across the entire organization. Attaining in-depth process insight enables insurance leaders to more easily detect outlier patterns and deviant behaviors that can help prevent fraud – ultimately helping protect a company’s bottom line.

4. Do I have visibility into all my processes?
It’s important to attain visibility into organizational processes end-to-end within every function, department and team, regardless of how siloed it may be. Only then can business leaders identify the connections between process and content that provide an understanding of business-critical behaviors – consumer, service and operational – that can delay decisions, accelerate delivery of service, and demonstrate compliance.

Insurers who cling to the conventional wisdom that customer service, operational excellence and compliance are separate functions will be at a competitive disadvantage. Leaders will recast these vital disciplines from functions to capabilities and will subsequently be well-positioned to serve their customers well and uncover new opportunities.

5. Is critical customer content central to my processes?
Content is critical for today’s insurance organizations. As business conditions in insurance change rapidly, and new types of documents enter core processes at high volumes, adopting advanced content capabilities quickly becomes a matter of survival to maintain business continuity in the COVID new normal.

Processing customer and partner content, traditionally done as a back-end function involving scanning centers or BPOs, is no longer adequate for today’s digital insurer. Leaders are bringing document processing directly into core processes (from customer service to compliance and crimes prevention) as a fundamental capability.

One of the most important questions that insurance leaders can ask when it comes to enterprise data is how does content drive each and every process, rather than how does the process consume data from documents.

Only by asking this question can insurers effectively transform their customer interactions and content intake workflows from chaotic islands of data that must later be re-interpreted and processed downstream to integrated processes that don’t require the costly duplication of effort, resources and technologies that we’ve see as a growing problem in these organizations.

Thriving in the “Next Normal”
Leaders are asking tough questions about how their operations are performing, how to leverage the data that drives their business, and how to revitalize the customer experience.

Above all, they’re asking what the new normal will look like when the pandemic is over. While it may be challenging to predict possible outcomes, becoming digitally efficient will be a requirement. Organizations that are willing to re-think their perceived wisdom of how their processes should work and adopt better tools to make change will be in the best position to lead.

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