To think about the future of customer service, let’s look at how customer service operated 20 years ago at the dawn of the CRM era. In 1995, the Internet was very slow, security was almost non-existent, and customer service reps used a plethora of green screens to do their work. The main value-add of a CSR was that they were able to read the green screen and tell the results to the caller. In situations where simply relaying the screen information was not enough, the CSR would then fill out some paper forms to get the back office to do that work.
How the world has changed! Customers today expect a much higher degree of self-service. A CSR whose only value is to read a screen is not providing any value at all. Yet with all of the self service capabilities through the channels, customer service is still a significant cost center for insurers. How do executives meet the demands of investors or policyholders to reduce costs while at the same time improving the service experience? The only way to achieve that is through a much higher degree of work automation. This means the death of the back office because the work will now be done at the front lines. That is why so many of the ACA websites have failed at huge expense – their inability to get the work done.
Getting work done will be the key to the success of a contact center in the future. That means taking first call resolution to a much higher level. It means pushing the envelope on how quickly you can resolve the service request of the policyholder or agent. How long does it take us to process a claim? When can the policyholder expect to receive the check from their loan against the policy value? This is one of Pega’s key customer-facing processes which was traditionally called “back office” work.
The challenge for insurers is that traditional contact center systems aren’t very good at getting the actual work done. Many insurance processes involve several people with multiple steps. Those processes also vary by product and jurisdiction. Typical green screen systems or data-centric CRM desktops don’t handle that complexity well.
To compete in the future, insurers must effectively merge their front and back office. But a big challenge needs to be hurdled, first: their legacy systems may be their biggest obstacle.
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