Life insurance has never been an industry associated with rich consumer experiences or even customer centricity. It has generally been believed that low-frequency interactions and routine communications (around policy renewals, for example) were enough to sustain customer relationships, meet regulatory requirements and service customers.
But, over time, the life insurance industry has come to realize that the expectations of its consumers are now shaped largely by the experiences offered by other industries, including some whose products or services are vastly different from insurance. Nowhere is this clearer than in omnichannel servicing, an approach first developed and mastered by the retail industry. This article is part two of a three-part series we will be running in July.
The automation imperative
To establish omnichannel environments, insurers must streamline and automate underlying processes wherever possible to service customers more efficiently and capture more accurate, consistent and traceable data.
Business processes should also be made flexible to exploit the differentiation capabilities offered by each channel and support the changing habits of customers, including when and how transactions are initiated. For example, while initiating an online beneficiary change, policyholders should be offered assistance via an online help tool or live chat with a customer service representative.
Insurers should also consider expanding self-service functionality given that customers increasingly prefer to perform simple transactions on their own. According to most recent Global Consumer Insurance Survey, 80 percent of consumers are willing to use digital and remote channel options to complete common transactions, such as change of address, bill payment and change of beneficiary. Currently, few life insurers offer such functionality on web or mobile platforms.
Automation priorities for life insurers include:
The use of e-applications and/or e-signatures to improve the processing time for applications
Straight-through processing, rules-based underwriting and point-of-sale underwriting to transform this key process
Online claims submission
Shifting away from paper statements and check processing and toward greater adoption of online and digital payment options that are ubiquitous in other industries
Technology and data: the engine of omnichannel success
Integrated omnichannel experiences are not possible without well-designed technology environments, some advanced tools, integrated data and effective data management capabilities. These represent an ambitious move forward for most life insurers. The first step is to conduct a clear assessment of current technology and data assets and their ability to evolve in support of omnichannel experiences.