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The Impact of Personalized Claims: Customer Gratitude

BY Patrick Kehoe

Originally featured on Insurance Innovation Reporter (IRR)

For insurers, the value of a positive customer experience in attracting and retaining customers is unquestionable. Because of the nature of the business, insurance carriers and their representatives develop an intimate relationship as they work with clients, often through some of the worst tragedies that a client might experience. Hurricane Michael and its impact on the Florida coast and parts of Georgia come to mind.

Much effort and attention has been given to technologies like CCM (customer communications management) and CRM (customer relationship management), in order to communicate effectively with customers and through the channels they prefer, including whether it is hard copy mail, email, SMS, etc. With digital transformation and communication channels in the spotlight, it’s easy to push into the background the actual content that’s being communicated, but it’s important not to lose sight of what we are saying to customers.

Using as an example the catastrophe that Hurricane Michael has created, no doubt insurance carriers have been bombarded with thousands of claims from residents in the area, people who’ve suffered injuries, who’ve lost their homes, their automobiles, and much of their other personal property. Given the widespread devastation, an insured person might be grateful to receive any kind of response from his or her insurance carrier or broker, but a “canned” response from an existing script, or automated patter from a chatbot does little to support a positive customer experience.

But how does it feel?

Claims adjusters very likely want to personalize their responses, but they may be unable to do so, depending upon the content they can access via existing communications systems. In many organizations, legacy communications platforms use static templates for their correspondence that leave no room for personalization. Even if the organization were to attempt to improve the standard text, that block of content may be repeated in 100 different variations of a letter or even an email or text message. Changing that content is often a monumental task that requires making changes to every single one of the static templates. Typically, these changes are accomplished by IT, and we know of one insurer that has a six-month backlog just to make a small state-mandated regulatory change to its correspondence. When customers are in need of assistance immediately—or at least an assurance of assistance—a six-month lag time is not acceptable.

Additionally, while static templates are useful and even necessary for handling routine communications, in many cases a formal, mechanical response may actually have a negative impact on the customer. They may feel that they’re being reduced to a number and that the insurer is in some way minimizing their needs. Carriers need to do more than improve the agility of their claims handling. To truly succeed in enhancing the customer experience, they need the ability to create content that will resonate with customers; content that is both highly relevant and personalized.

Especially in a crisis situation, it’s important to demonstrate that you know your clients, understand their situation, and are concerned for their well-being. For example, this might mean adding a personal note such as, “Judy, we’re so sorry to hear about the damage to your home, but glad to know that you and your sons have found a safe place to stay for the time being.”

Without the ability to place the right content into their claims correspondence, all of the investment to speed the claims process will be undermined by the negative impression the correspondence makes with the customer.

To provide the best possible customer experience, particularly in times that are stressful for policy holders, insurers need the capability to enable those closest to the customer, such as an agent, broker or adjuster, to easily reference the conversation or otherwise personalize the correspondence they send. These changes need to happen within the defined rules that ensure those communications remain compliant, yet retain a consistent look and feel with other customer communications sent by the organization.

Moving to a Dynamic Model

One way to solve this communication challenge is to move from a static to a dynamic template approach to create truly personalized and relevant messages. Unlike the static approach, dynamic templates can allow for a combination of both standardized blocks of content and ones that allow for personalization. These kinds of controlled editing capabilities put personalization in the hands of those who know the customer best and understand the challenges they’re facing, while ensuring other critical pieces of content, such as regulatory content, stay within the control of the experts.

In addition, advanced systems enable business content owners, such as the regulatory content owner, to make changes to a content block and then immediately populate those changes across all variants of communications that contain that same content block. This is critical to avoiding the time-intensive process of involving IT resources in the change management process. These capabilities are also critical to ensuring compliance by automating updates to regulatory content for example, across correspondence templates.

Looking at it from the customer’s perspective, certainly they appreciate that their insurance carrier is there to support them and respond to their claims, but it may be equally important for them to feel that the insurer knows them and truly cares about them as individuals. For insurance carriers, operating in what is now termed the “age of the hyper-connected consumer,” enabling adjusters and client service representatives to quickly (and safely) personalize content can result in gratitude that will mean the difference between retaining loyal customers and losing them to another carrier.

In our latest eBook, “3 Hurdles Affecting Your Claims Communications—and How to Overcome Them”, we’ll outline three of the biggest challenges insurers encounter when attempting to improve their claims communications, and recommend tips and best practices on how these obstacles can be conquered.

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