Change for the sake of change is not innovation and insurers need to attract and retain employees as well as customers. The insurance industry is facing serious challenges in attracting and retaining customers in a very highly competitive environment. Barriers to new entrants to the sector may be high, but the fluidity and rapidity of product development and packaging demonstrates how sensitive industry players are to consumer demands. A further challenge emanates from employees too, not just consumers, and insurers face significant challenges in attracting and retaining the best talent available as technology demands different skill sets to deliver what customers want.
Change for the sake of change is not innovation, but there are very practical, pragmatic drivers at play here.
Customers have far greater channels to communicate and transact business with insurers, and they are looking for answers in real-time or very close to it.
This poses employee challenges because they are expected to be more productive in order to maintain or improve margins.
How does an insurance employee respond to customer questions, the subject of which touches across internal departments in the insurer?
How does an employee increase their productivity while ensuring customer service standards meet the high bar consumers are setting?
The intersection of employee and customer makes or breaks the commercial relationship, and technology underpins these crucial customer touch points.
Speed, Accuracy & Relevancy
Automated workflows and task management platforms can ensure that what a customer representative needs to answer customer questions is available to them, in one place, and carries the most up-to-date information on the customer.
We’re not saying they act as your CRM or data repository, but workflow automation platforms do allow controlled, secure access to customer data living in other systems. By acting as the “glue” that binds business processes, customer data and employee actions together, representatives are able to provide a very rapid set of answers to customer questions there and then.
Many customer requests can be standardized, such as increase/decrease my deductible, add/remove someone on the policy, change of address, change vehicle/insured and so on.
Many such requests can be handled by chat bots, however the jury is still out on whether customers actually like doing business with even the most genial robot, or even whether all of their issues can be resolved with them.
But what happens when there is a complex question or issue?
At some point in the customer relationship, your staff are going to be in the mix, and this will always be a moment of truth. When this moment of truth arrives, your staff must be able to respond effectively with the information at their fingertips, and act in a compliant manner which is congruent with company policies, and at the same time, deliver a customer experience that makes the customer very happy.
Every. Single. Time.
Many insurers are moving further down the path of workflow automation and Robotic Processing Automation (RPA), and this strategy has been very successful in streamlining repetitive tasks and workflows. This means faster response times, shorter queues and wait times for customers, while human staff are freed from repetitive, low-level work to focus on the more complex customer issues with a higher value attached to them, and especially where the commercial relationship is at stake.
Practical Technology – Universal Work Platforms Tie Everything Together
Undergoing some form of digital transformation or digitizing work is but one step towards greater efficiencies in the insurance sector.
Practical decision-making in how solutions are applied means there is a tendency to create a patchwork infrastructure, with point solutions solving specific pain points and little else. That is, unless there is an underlying foundation upon which innovation can be built and managed.
RPA, chat bots, AI, and such must all be tied together with staff and existing infrastructure, all operating against a backdrop of heavy regulation and competition, if a great customer experience is to be created again and again.
Universal work platforms by whatever name the marketers refer to them (low code, No Code, BPM, workflow automation, task management software) serve to tie your offering and customer experience into one, controlled package for customer delivery.
The most innovative aspect of technological developments is not the development of custom solutions to manage a small range of business issues, but the move to work management platforms such as HighGear that serve to effectively tie everything together. More than this, they are capable of being changed very rapidly to keep pace with customer and regulatory demands, such as changing how work is processed by front office staff, or by ensuring additional information is gathered to maintain compliance.
Not only are workflow automation solutions solving the readily standardized, repetitive work items, but they also deliver the ability to change as needed, while maintaining control over the operation. A powerful feature of no code workflow automation platforms is the ability to change very fast, with little to no support needed from overstretched IT teams.
Placing Technology Into The Hands of Those Who Use It
While technology is bedazzling, we must not lose sight of why we are deploying a solution.
There is little utility to having a nice shiny box or a custom UI that looks fantastic, but which no one is able to extract value (or those who can are so busy that they can’t help your people as quickly as needed).
A Lean principle is to go where the work actually takes place, the Gemba Walk, but while this has its roots in manufacturing, it has greater applicability too, and certainly for knowledge workers using repetitive processes which is very common in insurance companies. A further development of this principle is that those closest to the work being done should be the ones making changes to improve processes and workflows – they have all the practical, relevant information close to them backed by practical experience of ‘doing the work.’
Digital technology requires a degree of tech-savviness, but to be able to wield technology effectively in a fast-paced, dynamic environment requires any solution to be used by non-technical specialists, such as business analysts or team leaders. They may be experts at how work gets carried out, but they are not coders or IT specialists. Nevertheless, it is these people, the “citizen developers,” who are the ones best placed to wield technology solutions because they understand how the work gets done, the issues that arise, are in possession of data, and understand discovery and design of any proposed solution or improvement.
It is at this point that most technology solutions stop and demand that implementation is passed over to specialists or the IT team, and that slows everything down and ramps up cost (two things insurers are desperate to avoid).
Worse, the delivered solution may not be what the business wants, but is merely the most achievable, or even worse, the solution is obsolete by the time it is deployed.
This is where we are seeing the emergence of low code and especially no code workflow platforms.
Low code platforms are great tools for IT people to quickly use to create, change and deploy a workflow solution: but they still require IT or specialist support, though they may speed up delivery.
No code workflow automation platforms are designed to be used directly by the business analyst, such that they are the ones to create and deploy a business application, and which the team or department into which it is deployed can also be supported (relieving IT even further).
The greatest technology innovation of all isn’t what the technology is, but the emergence of complex, powerful digital platforms, such as HighGear, that an ordinary business person can use directly to discover, design and deploy business applications and workflow solutions.