March 13, 2023

Navigating Evolving Expectations: Technology’s Role in Improving Customer Satisfaction

Accenture’s 2022 Transforming claims and underwriting with AI report found that 77 percent of claimants that reported being dissatisfied with their home and auto insurance claims handling experiences said they had switched or were considering switching insurers, putting about $34 billion in premiums at risk.

Customer experience and satisfaction are common pain points for carriers.

Hi Marley’s Director of Solutions Consulting, Stephanie Behnke, recently joined Greg Hamlin, SVP of Resolution (Claims) at Berkeley Industrial Comp, Lori Pon, AVP of Claims Transformation, Program Management at The Hanover Insurance Group, and Tania Sanfiel, Director of P&C Claims at Assurant for a webinar, moderated by Michael Fidel, managing director of InsurTech Ohio. The discussion, “Sink or Swim, Navigating the Turbulent Waters of Evolving Customer Expectations,” explored the developing challenges carriers face around improving the customer claims experience.

Reduce Frustration with Process Explanation and Expectation Setting

Creating an exceptional experience focused on speed, convenience and connection improves customer satisfaction and retention rates.

Behnke highlighted results from Hi Marley’s latest study that uncovered customers’ most frequently asked questions in claims. Thirty-one percent of inquiries resulted from an unclear understanding of the claims process and next steps, including 25 percent specifically asking about the next steps.

When a conversation becomes difficult for a customer—when they express negative sentiment, frustration with delays, or threaten litigation—Hi Marley’s message intelligence engine dives into the data to understand what led to the dissatisfaction.

“When we see this pattern of behavior and analyze the data, we see the frustration often begins with uncertainty or a little anxiety,” said Behnke. “And that frustration grows if questions aren’t answered, or if there wasn’t a fast enough response; it continues to grow to a point where the carrier has to make a service recovery.”

She continued, “So, as an industry, how can we get in front of that and understand the root cause of issues and nip it in the bud? As Hi Marley continues to dive into this data around these conversations, we’ll get better at anticipating those needs.”

“As we dive into our conversational data to understand what is creating that dissatisfaction, we find that about a third of the inquiries from customers are all around what’s next. Sometimes, in our industry, we forget that many of us on the phone have been doing this for 20 or more years, and we know exactly what happens next. But a customer may not have filed a claim in 18 years, and they don’t know what happens next.”

Tania Sanfiel agreed, “Most of our customers haven’t been through a claim before. They’re not familiar with the process. So, it’s important that we manage expectations and leverage data to drive the customer experience.”

“Those are pretty basic questions that, as an industry, we know how to answer,” said Behnke. “We just need the technology in our hands that enables us to do that and to do so proactively, so the customer doesn’t even need to ask the question in the first place.”

While proactive intervention is the ultimate goal, Hi Marley’s new customer question model enhances the platform’s message intelligence engine by alerting adjusters to unanswered questions after 30 minutes. By promptly addressing inquiries, carriers can mitigate the risk of escalations during the claims process and keep customers happy and informed.

Harnessing Data and Analytics to Serve Insureds Effectively and with Empathy in A Moment of Need

Another recent Hi Marley study looked at 25,000 customer surveys and found that an empathetic adjuster attitude and approach is the number one driver of a five-star customer experience.

“The heart of empathy is respect,” said Behnke. “And when you put yourself in the shoes of that person who has never had this incident happen to them before, they’ve never been injured at work, or they’ve never had their home lost a fire before, they need to hear in a way that they can process and understand the information.”

According to Hamlin, Berkeley Industrial is looking at ways to ensure their adjusters bring empathy into the claims process. “One of the first things we did is we looked at the first letter we sent out to our injured workers, which sounded like an attorney wrote it. Not great,” said Hamlin.

The company worked with adjusters to re-write the letter, so now it starts with, “We understand that getting hurt at work is challenging.” Then walks through the steps in the claim process, sets expectations, explains how the claimant will get paid, how benefits are calculated and more. Already, the organization has seen an enormous difference from setting expectations up-front, “many of these claims are not getting litigated. We’re able to come to a resolution that’s good for both parties. We’re able to help them get back to their work.”

Hamlin continued, “And we’re also seeing more engagement from our staff because they want to help others. And so when they feel like they can make an impact, they’re also more engaged, more committed; there’s less turnover.”

Employee Engagement Matters: Provide the Tools they Need to Manage Workloads, Increase Efficiency and Drive Satisfaction 

recent study found that insurance is one of the most stressful industries. The turnover rate for insurance employees is high, especially for adjusters, with 83 percent leaving their role within three years. Carriers are experiencing unprecedented employee turnover rates. Unfilled positions cause stress to employees who have to take on additional work. Insurance providers need tools that help employees manage their workloads, increase efficiency and drive satisfaction to attract and retain talent in today’s competitive market.

“Computers don’t generally have biases, but we do,” said Hamlin. “But on the flip side, human beings can do some things that technology can’t do really well. We want to be able to reach out and build those relationships of trust, show empathy and take some of those steps that computers don’t do as well.”

“It’s also important to improve the employee experience and make the adjuster’s job as easy as possible by giving them the tools they need to enhance communication with the customer,” said Sanfiel.

“We’re all dealing with the great resignation; technology can take some low-hanging fruit off of the adjuster plate, which enables us to serve up a more inspiring way to work, a more inspiring claim journey,” said Pon. “The claims experience is a great opportunity to bond the customer to your organization, so it’s important to pick the right technology partner that allows you to deliver hyper-personalized experiences for your staff and customers.”

Take Hi Marley, for instance. “When we use Hi Marley, the adjuster receives constant coaching and feedback from alerts, sentiment analysis and customer satisfaction surveys,” said Sanfiel. “And the nice thing is Hi Marley provides that on every conversation. I think we all have a QA process and will look at a subset of claims and phone calls, but ultimately, through text messaging and Hi Marley, we’re able to use all of the data to identify successes, what’s working well and opportunities for improvement.”

Utilize the Power of Digital to Streamline Communication and the Claims Process

A personalized claim experience also comes down to the communication channel.

Hamlin described the frustrating experience customers face when they dial a number, have to press three, then press nine, then get transferred, then answer questions using voice prompts. But when the system doesn’t understand, it puts them on hold or transfers the call again. “And 30 minutes later, you never want to do business with or have another interaction with that particular entity. So what we want to do as insurance carriers is meet people where they’re at, communicate with them the way that they want to be communicated.”

In today’s world, technology can help augment rather than replace human intelligence, said Behnke.

“Take a workers’ comp claim, for instance,” said Behnke. “Two conversations may come into an adjuster. One says, ‘My surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, but I still didn’t get the authorization for this additional blood test I need before surgery.’ And one that says, ‘You mentioned yesterday my payment was on its way. Can you give me a status?’ Those are two very important questions from injured workers, but two very different senses of urgency. And so how can technology prioritize those messages for the adjuster?”

Behnke continued, “Every injured worker needs attention, but an adjuster may have a hundred pending files. Technology will help the adjuster sift through all of the information, understand their queue and know which ones to prioritize.”

According to Pon, one of the most impactful ways technology is augmenting human interaction is through sentiment analysis. “We’re looking at our SMS communications with our customers in real-time and sending up beacons if there was sentiment within the message that needs to be addressed and making that service recovery.”

“When automation and human touch intersect, you have a hybrid approach making sure that what you deliver has that empathy built within and at scale,” said Pon.

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