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Insurance companies look to process improvement for streamlining customer experience

Insurance companies need to develop their customer experiences with a seamless omnichannel approach that will tie together everything from customer onboarding to digital interactions to call centers.

And that means a lot of process improvement.

According to research firm Gartner, customer needs and demand are shifting, and insurers need to catch up. Key takeaways from Gartner's top three customer experience trends for digital insurance include:

  • Omnichannel is table stakes and insurers need a tight integration of people and technologies as well as the processes that connect them.

  • Dynamic customer engagement drives loyalty and growth. For dynamic customer interaction, insurers need to shift from being reactive to proactive.

  • Build speed for digital customer satisfaction with faster transaction processing, automation and process modernization.

The benefits to adopting continual improvement for processes include meeting customer needs in any channel as efficiently as possible. In addition, hitting customers at the right time with the right message will be critical, said Gartner. However, the research firm argued in a report that insurers have fallen behind with channels that aren't integrated and technology that needs to transform.

In other words, insurers need to make sure that customer journey maps account for processes and transactions across channels. Everything from customer onboarding to service to IT service management and call centers need to be mapped.

Most common customer actions taken with insurance providers include transactions, advice or quote for new coverage, insurance claims and evaluating existing coverage, according to a Gartner survey.

The biggest hurdle for insurers is connecting the processes and data from legacy systems.

IBM's Institute of Business Value found that 42% of customers don't fully trust their insurers and 60% of insurance companies noted that they lacked a customer experience strategy. IBM said insurers need to demonstrate the value of customer-shared data from onboarding to all transactions, automate processes and create workflows that benefit the agent and policyholder. 

Insurers appear to have received the message. Here are two insurers that said they are making strides in the process improvements required to drive customer experiences.

  • Allstate. On a March 17 investor call, Glenn Shapiro, President of Property-Liability of Allstate, said the company is "continuing to look at every level of efficiency in our business, every level of cost from distribution to our cost of doing business from an efficiency standpoint." Digital self-service efforts are more efficient and drive customer experience.

  • Travelers. Travelers CEO Alan Schnitzer said during the company's fourth quarter earnings call in January that the company has invested heavily in its customer experience. "In 2021, our leading claim organization completed a strategic 3-year plan, we call right touch. That effort resulted in more than $125 million of annual run rate savings, which is reflected in our results," said Schnitzer. "In addition to creating efficiencies for us, investments in digital capabilities over the past few years have enabled us to improve the customer experience."

Larry Dignan mugshot 2022
Larry Dignan
Editor in Chief (former)

Larry Dignan is the former Editor in Chief of Celonis Media. Before joining Celonis, he was Editor in Chief of ZDNet and has covered the technology industry and transformation trends for more than two decades, publishing articles in, Inter@ctive Week, The New York Times, and Financial Planning magazine.

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