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Why Claims Handling is Ground Zero for Customer Retention or Churn

BY Patrick Kehoe

There have been significant technology investments aimed at the digital customer experience in the past several years by property and casualty (P&C) insurance companies.

Challenged by InsureTech, mature P&C enterprises are looking to improve their customers’ claims experience through self-service capabilities, artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots, SMS messaging, and in other innovative ways.

All of these efforts to streamline the claims process are essential if carriers hope to differentiate themselves in a marketplace that’s increasingly commoditized and prone to quick customer churn. But carriers need to do more than improve the agility of their claims handling—to truly succeed in enhancing the customer experience, they’ll need to assess whether they have the ability to create content that will resonate with customers—content that’s both highly relevant and personalized.

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

Imagine a customer with an automobile claim using an insurer’s mobile app to report the claim, and then set up a phone call with the adjuster. Following the phone call, the adjuster may have acquired a great deal of relevant information that could be used in subsequent correspondence to make the experience highly personal for the customer.

For example, if customer Mike, his wife Sandra and their son Bobby were in the car when the accident happened, the adjuster may want to include a personal message in follow-up correspondence such as, “Mike, I’m sorry about your accident but I’m so glad that you, Sandra and Bobby are OK!” However, the adjuster may not have the ability to send anything but boilerplate forms from the insurer’s legacy customer communications infrastructure.

It all starts with content

Developing a strategy to enhance content begins with gaining a clear and detailed understanding of the overall state of the organization’s content. The reality for many large P&C insurers is that they too often have content that’s inaccurate, redundant and improperly branded. Sorting through that content and finding an intelligent way to organize, minimize and implement a plain language refresh of that content is essential.

A strategy for accomplishing the goal of organizing content is to establish a “center of excellence.” Many organizations have disparate technologies in place for various functions, such as on-boarding, email communications and claims. Gathering together the stakeholders from all of these disparate functions to define a centralized communications strategy can go a long way toward breaking down these communication silos and intensifying the focus on customer experience across the organization.

Moreover, in many cases legacy communications platforms use static templates for their correspondence. There may be a block of content that’s repeated in 100 different variations of a letter. Changing that content is a monumental task, requiring making the change to every single one of the static templates. Typically, these changes will be accomplished by IT, which can be a time-consuming project. In fact, we know of one insurer that has a six-month backlog just to make a small regulatory change to its correspondence. In cases like that, it’s nearly impossible to make changes to improve the customer experience because state regulations that take priority continue to change and tie up IT resources.

One way to solve this dilemma is to move from a static to a dynamic template approach to creating customer communications. Unlike the static approach, dynamic templates will allow a change to be made once to a content block and immediately populated to all appropriate correspondence templates, avoiding the need to involve IT resources in the process.

Put personalization in the hands of those who know the customer best

Finally, insurers should adopt an approach that will 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 within defined rules that ensure those communications remain compliant, while retaining a consistent look and feel with other customer communications sent by the organization.

The bottom line

For P&C insurers, the quality of the claims experience will largely define the customer experience and determine whether a carrier will benefit from customer retention or see churn. Taking the necessary steps to ensure that your claims correspondence is consistent, timely and highly personalized is essential to differentiate in today’s competitive marketplace.

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