Leveraging Digital to Transform Claims Customer Journeys

What do insurance customers value most, today? Needs and expectations are constantly evolving, but the desire for fast, simple claims resolution has never wavered. The claims process is perhaps the ultimate litmus test of customer sentiment—and often, the deciding factor between retention and attrition. So, as insurers look to digital tools to enhance the claims journey, what are the key factors to consider?

In a recent virtual panel discussion at The Insurance Network’s Digital Claims 2021 event, Rohan Regis of EXL joined leaders from Bought By Many and Zurich Insurance to explore this question.

"The claims journey is the most personal journey in the entire insurance lifecycle.
It is exactly here that there’s a major opportunity to build a loyal customer base."

Rohan Regis, VP, Insurance, EXL

Defining the optimum claims journey

Whether the inciting incident for a claim was a car accident, a theft or at worst, the loss of a loved one, from the customer perspective, the claims process is heavily nuanced. Insurers that can deliver swift and seamless claims processing alongside empathic interactions will be best placed to meet customer needs and expectations.

Key to achieving this is customer choice; as panellist Christine Matthews of Bought By Many reminded us, “individual customers and claims need individual solutions.” In a post-9-to-5, digital native world, customers want to choose how, where and when they participate communication around the claims process. This is where technologies such as conversational AI can be intelligently integrated into workforces and processes to power the digital transformation journey, bringing with it speed, convenience and the all-important personal touch.

Digital at the core

Just as digital tools can directly enhance the customer-side experience, digital must also be harnessed at the back end, to enable claims handlers to deliver world-class service.

Panellist Amy Brettell explained: “At Zurich, we’ve found that in order to get the cultural and organisational buy-in to deliver that fantastic customer experience we all strive for, there has to be a balance between shiny new tech and fixing the pain points handlers feel every day.” Although traditional wisdom says that investing heavily in legacy systems is undesirable in a digital transformation scenario, insurers still need to find the right balance of investment, between new initiatives and basic fixes that can ultimately save time and money.

"You can have the very best technology at your handler’s fingertips, but if you’ve still got a legacy mindset or are focussed on the wrong metrics, it simply won’t transform the customer experience."

Amy Brettell, Head of Customer – UK Claims, Zurich Insurance UK

Cultivating the right mindset is critical to the success of any digital initiative. But what does that mean for claims? EXL’s Rohan Regis broke it down into three elements: the customer-centric mindset, the change mindset and the agile mindset. In other words, keep customer personas and their specific needs in mind, empower your team with a clear understanding of the initiative goals to ready and inspire them for change and prepare to work incrementally and iteratively to drive the best outcomes.

Amy Brettell shared an example of this approach in practice, in Zurich UK’s Automation Academy. It not only trains frontline claims handlers in data, AI and automation, but also invites them to bring their practical experience from customer interactions to the table, involving them in developing RPA processes to modernise and automate the claims journey in a truly customer-centric way. In parallel, new roles in automation are being created and filled by upskilled team members. By immersing teams in the process and equipping them with new, value-adding skills, Zurich has empowered its people through times of change and this is paying dividends in terms of company culture and mindset.

Amy Brettell shared an example of this approach in practice, in Zurich UK’s Automation Academy. It not only trains frontline claims handlers in data, AI and automation, but also invites them to bring their practical experience from customer interactions to the table, involving them in developing RPA processes to modernise and automate the claims journey in a truly customer-centric way. pIn parallel, new roles in automation are being created and filled by upskilled team members. By immersing teams in the process and equipping them with new, value-adding skills, Zurich has empowered its people through times of change and this is paying dividends in terms of company culture and mindset.

"Risk appetite can slow down the rate of automation, but by proving the case on lower-level claims you can work towards the higher level ones. You have to know where you’re going; understand the vision and what you want to deliver, then even as you’re making little changes, you’re going in the right direction."

Christine Matthews, Head of Claims, Bought By Many

Data drives the journey

Data quality and data literacy within the organisation will drive the digital transformation of the claims journey. At its most evolved, data-led automation enables straight-through claims processing that delivers not only swift resolution, but also consistency—not to mention the expected operational efficiencies. This, in turn, can make a big difference to processes like claims estimation and even policy interpretation. As a result, claims teams are freed up to focus on delivering the fast, empathic and proactive service that claims customers want and expect. While there is still some hesitancy around automation, implementing lower-risk use cases successfully paves the way.

Overall, the end-to-end view will give insurers the best opportunity to improve the claims journey and impact the right outcomes—leading with the customer journey.

Panel chair Jeremy Burgess of The Insurance Network summarised: "Claims has often been seen as a stand-alone function, but now there’s a shift towards a much more integrated transformation approach, re-thinking claims within the design of the whole organisation. The right mindset and culture c¬mes from leadership defining the organisational purpose and where claims sits within it. Get that right, then things start to flow."

If you would like to continue the discussion or learn more about how digital can transform your customer claims journey, please do get in touch with Rohan.Regis@exlservice.com at EXL.

With thanks to panel chair, Jeremy Burgess of The Insurance Network.

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