According to a recent study, market conditions are dictating that claims professionals need to draw a straight line between their work and increased profitability based on customer service. The study and recent announcements indicate technology is key in the geometry.
In October 2011, the global professional services company Towers Watson released its sixth annual Property & Casualty Claim Officer Survey, titled “Claim Implications, Challenges and Innovations”. The priorities, identified in a release from Towers Watson, could have as easily come from marketing professionals as from claims officers: “Profitability/ROE is the main business challenge for respondents (71%), followed by top-line growth (63%) and a competitive environment (52%).”
Further, the survey found that loss expenses had dropped in priority for the respondents. In the original survey, loss expense costs were listed as a top priority by 79% of participants. This dropped to 44% in the most recent survey. Ahead of loss expenses were customer service (69%) and overall loss costs (61%).
Technology is an important element in addressing customer service priorities. According to Brian Stoll, Towers Watson director and coauthor of the report, technology innovation is improving the customer experience, and making a difference in improving efficiency and boosting financial results: “Particularly in personal lines, managing loss and expense costs while enhancing customer service are compatible goals, and claim officers who focus on high quality service and faster claim cycle times achieve efficiencies through technology and process innovation, and clearly gain a competitive advantage. These innovative approaches offer the same opportunities for standard commercial lines.”
Carriers statements and actions support this. In a recent Insurance & Technology article, Owen Williams, SVP and claims CIO for Chubb, says: “”Claims handling is a key differentiator for us in the marketplace, and so we continue to invest in the kind of people, process and technology that yields customer service that exceeds our competitors’ performance.”
For Chubb, this means that technology must be robust and flexible. According to Williams, “Today’s insureds want the flexibility to choose the level and type of interaction that makes the most sense for them. For example, someone might choose to initiate a claim through their agent but receive status updates on the claim via a mobile device.”
Lansing, Michigan based Auto-Owners, a leading property/casualty insurer selected Guidewire ClaimCenter® as its new claims management system. The company will implement ClaimCenter to support the management of its commercial and personal lines claims.
Customer service is a key driver for Auto-Owners in this decision. In a release, Jim Walsh, vice president, Claims, Auto-Owners, said: “ClaimCenter is expected to complement our service efforts and apply increased technology to streamline our processes, allowing associates to focus on serving our customers and agents.”