As economic stresses, including the soft market, continue for insurance practitioners, leading organizations are looking for innovation in customer service to provide competitive advantages. Claims offers unique prospects, according to one leading expert. We feel this is supported by other trends and should be carefully examined.
In a recent post in Insurance & Technology, Michael Costonis, managing director of Accenture’s global claims practice, notes that “according to Accenture research, insurance customers placed ‘speed of problem resolution’ (that is, fast claims service) as their top criterion for choosing an insurance provider, ahead of price transparency and the availability of products that suit their individual needs.”
Costonis lists four areas that deserve special attention: Mobility, Collaboration, Analytics, and Modern Technology. These align with developments in the area that’s becoming known as ‘Social Business’ (See our recent post Social Business and Insurance – A Natural Fit?). In a recent whitepaper IBM’s software group lists the contribution of the same elements as Costonis to enhancing customer service: “a Social Business can provide an online experience through ‘real people’ showing personalized profile information via instant messaging, community blogging or Web conferences – turning customers into advocates. In addition, it can strive to deliver realtime information to online customers through multiple devices (mobile, smart-phone, tablet PCs, etc.) to help ensure effective communication anytime and anywhere. As part of all this, an effective Social Business can also implement a flexible model of customer self service capabilities, such as chat forums and communities, to increase responsiveness and decrease costs.”
When taken together, these elements, combined with sophisticated analytics to control fraud and support intelligent claims settlement, provide a foundation for a modern claims organization to support a sustainable competitive advantage. Costonis summarizes: “Claims processing offers insurers numerous opportunities to establish and protect competitive advantage. To achieve consistently high performance in claims, however, insurers need to look at these ‘crown jewels’ in a new light, thinking of them not so much as a cost but as a way to provide distinctive customer service in the one area that really matters to insurance customers: getting claims processed and paid.”
And that keeps customers coming back.