'Digital bellwethers' set high bar for insurer customer service


The insurance industry is being challenged from a customer experience perspective by “digital bellwethers” such as Amazon and Google and the customer service bar is being raised exponentially year after year, according to Don Jones, head of claims at Mass Mutual US Insurance Operations.

“We’re not being measured against our peer competitors any more. The competition is fierce, it’s stark and it is going to continue to evolve,” said Jones. “The insurance industry is not known for being fast innovators, but we’re usually fast followers.”

Jones was speaking during the panel session, “Put Your Customers at the Core of Your Claims Strategy: Evaluate Which Technologies and Automation Tools Best Serve Your Customers”, on October 28 during the first-ever Claims Innovation Virtual Event, organised by Intelligent Insurer.

Moderated by Robin Roberson, president and co-founder of Goose & Gander, the panel outlined their firms’ claims innovation journeys and provided advice for registrants looking to embark on their own paths.

Archaic standards

If you think about the customer claims journey as it exists now, we’re still following some old standards and asking for a lot of information from insureds, explained Aaron Wheaton, vice president and chief claims officer at Plymouth Rock Assurance.

“Voicemails are a productivity killer,” said Wheaton. “Interacting digitally with customers is something they’re clamouring for.”
Plymouth Rock has been working with Hi Marley for just over a year, using intelligent text messaging to manage auto insurance claims. According to Wheaton, as a result of the collaboration, Plymouth Rock saw an upwards of 35 percent reduction in inbound and outbound calls, and voicemails.

For Curtis Johnson, vice president, claims operations at workers’ compensation insurer Texas Mutual Insurance Company, using automation helps to get claims to the right people without asking for “an awful lot of information”.

Texas Mutual undertook an internal look at what happens to customers when they have a claim. “We found that we weren’t communicating between our divisions as well as we could have, and it was difficult for customers to reach us,” said Johnson.

After gathering a group of injured workers to work through the process and find out how to improve, the company has moved to an advocacy-based model.

“We’re allies to the injured workers. We’ve tried to build trust with them so they’re not doing a lot of work,” he said.

Meanwhile, during the panel, Jones looked at the life insurance side. Mass Mutual is working with a number of vendors and industry partners to use technology to find out whether a death has occurred before a claim has been reported.

Currently, the company is looking at an industry consortium where life insurers who have the same insureds can start to share information in real time.

“It’s still very archaic in terms of how people are reporting claims to us. We’re trying to leverage technology and data to the point where we can try to get this information in real time,” said Jones.

Making changes

“Digitisation is vital. It’s probably the most enabling step that an insurer can take to improve efficiency,” said Sean Baird, director of product marketing at software company Nuxeo.

Baird highlighted the importance of connecting systems and ensuring that agents have the right information at their fingertips.

“Switching between different systems increases inefficiencies and increases the likelihood you aren’t going to find the information you need to make decisions in a timely manner,” Baird stated.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming increasingly important to customers, he added, as the technology can be used to interpret some of the content that is being sent by the insured, such as photos and video.

Wheaton concluded: “Everybody is open to change if the change makes sense for them. For our adjusters, the change makes sense to them when they understand that it is going to improve the customer experience, first and foremost.

“The easiest way to drive innovation is to listen to your customers, but also to listen to your adjusters. They’re the individuals who are speaking to customers day in, day out.”

To watch the full session on-demand click here to visit the Claims Innovation USA virtual event website.

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Intelligent Insurer