Multi-Channel Contact Centers in Insurance: The Email Imperative

Celent projects that by 2007, 16% of all contacts to insurance contact centers will be via email. Celent urges insurers to embrace multi-channel contact management systems and to apply “call center” discipline and practices to email.

May 16, 2003 – As insurers shift their strategic focus from the product to the customer, the contact center has assumed a new level of importance. For most carriers, the contact center is their primary public face to both agents and customers. Celent estimates that US insurers spend a total of US$3.6 billion annually on maintaining and staffing contact centers. Tracking customer interactions and presenting unified “relationship views” of the customer are high on most IT priority lists.

While online self-service is a key competitive offering, especially on the agent side, insurers need to learn about and plan for another communications trend: the growing use of email as a preferred communication method. As supporting this channel becomes a necessity, insurer call centers must become true multi-channel contact centers.

“Unlike online self-service, there are not significant cost savings involved in supporting email,” says Matthew Josefowicz, author of the report and manager of Celent�s insurance group. “But insurers are being forced to support email by customer demand. Within a few years, poor email service will be as unacceptable as poor phone service is today. This means devoting the same level of management discipline and technology infrastructure to the email channel as is currently devoted to the phone.”

This report provides an overview of the role of multi-channel contact centers in the US insurance industry. It examines the role that contact centers are playing (including new areas like tele-underwriting), the increasing importance of email, the still dormant role of instant messaging, and the need for unified contact management systems to support true multi-channel contact centers.

A Table of Contents is available online.