Customer expectations. Customers have come to expect one-touch, personalized service from a variety of providers and have those same expectations of their insurers. (Photo: iStock)

In today’s markets, customers are seeking elevated experiences — with services like Netflix and Amazon providing customers with a product at the click of a button, consumers have come to expect that same level of service no matter where they are or with which company they are engaging.

However, many organizations don’t have the tools in place to provide this type of on-demand, customized service. This includes the insurance industry, whose customer journeys can be disjointed as they interact with people across multiple disconnected channels. And it’s not from a lack of want — many executives know they need to digitize their organizations for better customer experiences — it is a matter of how to do so.

To meet ever-increasing standards for brand interactions, insurance providers must deliver personalized, tailored experiences that make customers feel as though they are receiving a one-on-one, “white glove” treatment. To do so, organizations must make both personnel and technology changes that cater to the modern customer’s demands. The following changes will enable an organization to evolve internally so they can engage more seamlessly externally.

Enhancing business and IT collaboration

Collaboration between business decision makers and IT decision makers within an insurance organization is crucial to a successful technology deployment that enhances the customer experience. These groups have traditionally worked in silos, but by working more closely together, organizations can determine the best solutions that fit into their overall customer engagement strategy before selecting a vendor instead of the more common, less successful, approach of selecting “shiny object” technology solutions that provide a temporary Band-Aid. Ultimately, this will help organizations maximize their technology investments while providing customers with seamless experiences on a personalized, 1:1 level.

Transitioning to a horizontal team structure

A common theme that is still prevalent in the industry today is operating in vertical silos, with agents working with limited data access, preventing them from viewing customer journeys holistically. It’s time to shift this structure to align with the customer’s journey — which is much more horizontal than vertical in nature – to create more meaningful relationships with individual customers while meeting their needs. Sales, underwriting, claims and other departments may not operate the same, but the customer doesn’t need to feel those disconnects. Instead, it’s important to have the tools in place so that every customer-facing employee in every department can easily speak to each other, helping resolve customer issues quickly and creating seamless journeys every time.

Making the most of data

As the insurance industry reimagines its approach to interdepartmental collaboration, insurers must also look into tools that will help their organizations do so. First and foremost, they must look at how they analyze data. Currently, many insurance organizations analyze data around click rates, response rates and similar traditional analytics, but these data sets are not indicative of how today’s consumers actually make purchasing decisions. When businesses invest in Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based analytics, they gain a deeper level of insight about individual customer behavior, as they can transform available data into something operational that produces real results and adds value.

These enriched data sets also enable better-targeted engagements, with capabilities such as chatbots that can create optimal experiences through AI-enabled technology. AI-based chatbots have the ability to qualify customers for certain offers, answer a quick question, or transfer to them to the appropriate agent based on the questions they are asking. Similarly, predictive or adaptive modeling can help insurers be proactive in meeting customer demands. These models can use demographical data to predict what customers want, with predictive modeling analyzing basic demographic information and adaptive marketing analyzing specific customer behavior to create deeply personalized customer experiences.

Today’s consumer has a low threshold for underwhelming, disjointed brand interactions. The insurance providers that adapt will be primed to deliver the experiences today’s buyers expect, while those that continue to rely on antiquated approaches and solutions will have to work exponentially harder to see only a fraction of the market leaders’ successes. With a customer-centric approach that permeates the organization — from employees to the tools they’re using — insurers can maintain relevance and deliver truly one-on-one customer experiences during every interaction.

Jim Ryan is vice president and an industry market leader in insurance for Pegasystems. Contact him at James.Ryan@pega.com.

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