Originally published in Insurance Innovation Reporter
Growing consumer expectations as well as significant cost advantages are leading insurance organizations to implement omnichannel capabilities—but common challenges often make achieving a true omnichannel environment seem insurmountable.
Many organizations in the historically print-centric insurance industry are finding themselves amid a digital communication transformation. If yours is among them, your customers may be telling you they want to receive a text message for one kind of communication and a printed document for another. Those demands require you to develop a communication strategy that effectively reaches customers via the channel of their choice to ensure preferences are met and churn is reduced.
Even if your organization already offers a level of multichannel capability, these capabilities are often developed independently of each other by different parts of the business charged with delivering a particular type of customer communication. That reality sets an organization up for frustration when trying to implement what is considered a true omnichannel strategy—the tying together of all the interactions you have with each customer. When there is no orchestration between the multichannel capabilities—many of which are often trapped in legacy systems—there is no easy way to recognize and honor a 360-degree view of a customer’s overall communication preferences.
Successfully creating an omnichannel environment requires the ability to put your organization’s content at the center of that experience. When multichannel solutions operate in content silos, different departments may not be providing a consistent experience from the customer’s point of view. Finally, to rattle the nerves even more, the risk of not meeting regulatory requirements presents yet another challenge.
Reworking infrastructure to deliver a true omnichannel experience can be viewed as an expensive and time-consuming process that requires either a rip-and-replace approach or the migration of tens to hundreds of thousands of document templates to the new environment. However, as with anything large and looming, a project that seems difficult to initiate is always easier if you break it down in to smaller, more manageable pieces.
Here are three actions you can take that will get your omnichannel strategy into motion:
- Find a silo buster: Transformation in any capacity always requires someone or some group in a company that is willing to suggest ideas that disrupt the way business typically has been done. Ideally, a project like this would involve the collaboration of stakeholders from across an organization through a center of excellence or shared services approach. However, we have seen as few as one person present a strategy to management that shows how migrating to an omnichannel environment will drive new and better experiences for customers, reduce costs and speed time-to-market. If there is someone in your organization who understands the importance of accomplishing those three things, and they have authority, then the project will sail through.
- Seek the right technology: In your customers’ mind, their experiences are already omnichannel—a blend of web, email and snail-mail impressions. The challenge is to ensure that their experiences with you are consistent, and that messaging is reinforced across all channels. It is vital to find the appropriate tools necessary to ensure unified management of your customer communications across all channels. Look for a solution that allows for centralized content and messaging management that can connect your content and rules consistently across all channels. Working with a single platform will also make it possible to reduce the number of document templates being created and offer the functionality to generate output that ensures consistency. This content should be able to be managed directly by marketers or business users regardless of channel, be it digital or print.
- Focus on one project: Every insurance organization has a plethora of communications it sends to customers, from letters to statements to policy contracts and more. The low-hanging fruit will be different from company to company, but there will likely be communications that can be improved with personalization and engagement. For example, a P&C insurance organization may look to improve its claims correspondence as a place to start. Focusing on a holistic rethink on how to revise claims correspondence to create a better customer experience is a way to deliver a win for your organization that can become a catalyst for additional transformation. It may not bring an omnichannel strategy to fruition organization-wide, but it is a lot better than doing nothing.
In taking steps to remove the dread of implementing an omnichannel environment, the most important thing to remember is that the process is never complete. The more technology advances, the more we must keep pace. It is okay to start slowly and strategically with a timeframe that fits with the culture of your organization. It is just important to start somewhere and let your customers know you are committed to meeting them with relevancy where they want to be met.