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Actions insurers can take now to service and retain policyholders

Thomas Harrington,
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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wax and wane across the globe, millions are working to stay healthy both physically and financially. But for those affected by the crisis, the challenges are real. In the U.S., claims for unemployment have exploded to more than 30 million in the past two months; the U.K. is seeing its highest rate of welfare support claims in six years; and a 3% rise in unemployment is forecast for Asia Pacific. Worldwide, economic analysts predict a downturn, though the predictions vary on how bad it will be.

Many insurance regulators have already put in place guidance for payment grace periods or temporary protections that prevent policy cancellations. As these mandated forms of consumer help expire, and even as regional economies begin to reopen and revive, a large number of consumers will be reaching out to insurers with questions and concerns about their insurance portfolio.

Tackle customer service volumes and connect your workforce with digital channels

Industry business leaders are asking, “How do we weather immediate customer service challenges and prepare for a new future?” Requests related to premium holidays, policy options, hardship withdrawals, and rebates are increasing. Closed offices and newly distributed workforces are slowing the ability to respond to policyholders’ needs. As the volumes of inquiries increase, the ability to scale capabilities to distributed workforces, capture a customer’s questions or concerns, connect the data from all of these channels and mobile apps, and provide an accurate response is exposing major operational gaps.

We’re strongly recommending insurers look to digital servicing options as a way to help address these pressures now and be prepared for the increasingly digital-first preferences of future consumers. In many cases, you can stand up a digital service capability that connects with your systems of record and other apps within days. Examples of the most cost-efficient ways to do this are:

  • Reduce manual work by automating email – Email bots can process thousands of incoming emails and email attachments fast. The Pega Email Bot™ has natural language processing capabilities to read, triage, and route incoming mail. You can even automate responses to simple inquiries and personalize the messaging.

  • Intake and track requests to provide responsive and accurate customer service – Pega’s Crisis Customer Request Triage™ application integrates with your current systems and apps to capture, triage, and route customer inquiries to the right person or team. Designed to be modified and adapted to changing business processes and regulatory requirements, the solution helps you streamline operations and provides an auditable trail of actions for all customer inquiries.

  • Unify messaging in a single desktop – Pega Unified Messaging™ seamlessly connects digital channels and enables agents to smoothly navigate among conversations to deliver efficient user experience. Virtual assistants work alongside agents to help contain service volumes and deliver immediate answers to common inquiries.

Examples of success with this digital servicing approach include an insurer with an at-home workforce that used both chat and email bots to help improve customer service response times; and a government agency that was able to design and implement a case management-based economic assistance app in just five days.

Start engaging proactively with your policy holders

Another way to mitigate customer service volumes is to get ahead of them. Don’t wait for that phone call. If your data shows a customer is experiencing a loss, a financial hardship, or their needs have changed, reach out to them first. Even for something as simple as providing initial steps to submit a claim or arranging a payment to mitigate policy cancellation. An empathetic approach goes a long way in connecting with customers, letting them know you understand their situation and value their relationship. In addition, Pega Customer Decision Hub™ is designed to help you provide contextual customer engagement for service and retention, and helps you infuse empathy into every interaction.

Build a foundation to adapt and engage as markets and situations change

More importantly, immediate improvements in these areas should not be throwaway efforts. They should be foundational elements of a digital experience that enables insurance carriers to change, expand, and automate servicing today and in the future.

Luckily, implementing new digital tools and leveraging a case-based approach to eliminate operational complexity and deliver customer outcomes does not require ripping and replacing existing systems. It just requires focusing on one customer outcome at a time and building from there. For example, think about the steps needed to respond to and complete a claim status request. We call this a microjourney – one interaction that is part of a customer’s overall journey with your business. By focusing on the steps needed to complete that one microjourney, you’ll define the data you need to access from the bottom layer of your enterprise architecture and define the rules for the channels you’ll use to connect with your customers on the front-end, top layer of your architecture. And when you build those processes and rules into the operational layer of your architecture you can easily reuse and modify them for other microjourneys. We call this building from the center out – it’s an approach that helps businesses transform across all channels and systems. A center-out approach also frees up staff to spend more time helping customers with complex inquiries now and deliver the customer experiences of the future.

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Tags

  • Challenge: Customer Service
  • Challenge: Operational Excellence
  • Industry: Insurance
  • Product Area: Customer Service
  • Topic: Customer Service
  • Topic: Operational Excellence

About the Author

In his role as Global Industry Markets Leader for Insurance at Pega, Thomas Harrington works with leading organizations to drive performance, customer experience, and revenue growth through digital transformation.