Self-service – the right way

Jan Lindeboom |

“For new quotes press 1 on your telephone keypad, for existing quotes press 2, for customer service enquiries press 3…..”

Since the late 1990s when the hated IVR (Interactive Voice Response) call centre systems were first introduced, achieving cost efficiency through self-service has become the holy grail for many customer service operations – but is online self-service being implemented for the right reasons and is it satisfying customers?

For the insurance industry this is a particularly challenging opportunity.  We know that a growing percentage of customers prefer to access information, compare quotes and purchase insurance coverage online.  We also know that the regulators are keeping a watchful eye on how well insurance customers’ needs are being served in the online environment, and that different types of customers prefer to contact their insurance company in different ways.

Designing a self-service solution that meets the needs of a widely disparate customer base is not easy.  For example, recent market trend data has highlighted two distinct market groups with very different service expectations and tolerance of technology.  The 18 to 34 year olds are tech-savvy and confident in the online world of information and business transactions.  They look for a highly personalised customer service portal where they can manage their insurance affairs at any time of the day or night from any internet enabled device. Conversely, the over 50s age group that has growing affluence and insurance needs but less confidence online may be more comfortable with a blend of digital and personal customer service delivery channels.  Customers in the 35 to 50 age group demonstrate a blend of these two extremes.

The success of an online self-service portal for all these groups will depend on the ease with which customers can access the information and services they require.  Consumers of all online service offerings look for intuitive navigation, comprehensive and accurate information, and interactive online support.  Poor website layout, inadequate information or complicated service access routines result in customer frustration — and frustrated customers will put increased pressure on call centre resources or defect to another provider that has a better website.  Be warned:  the latest Cap Gemini World Insurance Report released earlier this year shows that positive customer experience ratings dropped to less than 30% globally.

The second challenge is to ensure that online service delivery complies with all emerging regulatory requirements. In the UK, the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) is developing its ‘TCF’ (Treating Customers Fairly) standard, which sets minimum customer service outcomes relating to product information, disclosure, claims handling and discrimination, as well as the use of management systems to deliver and monitor the customer experience.  A key element of the requirement is that benchmarking should be ‘forward looking’, requiring in-built analytics to be predictive rather than just identify past service failures.

These are complex and demanding targets for insurance companies to design into an online service solution. Fundamental to the delivery of a successful self-service portal is a fully integrated digital insurance platform. Keylane’s non-life insurance solution has been developed specifically for insurance companies operating in the digital world and proven through years of successful implementations in the European market.  Its in-built self-service function is a well-developed, customisable and secure online customer portal that supports 24/7 omni-channel digital access, powerful monitoring analytics and seamless integration with offline support services.

The beauty of the solution is that while it meets customer demand for services in the digital world, it also provides significant business value to the insurer.  With self-service features like event-based claims registration, functionality for retrieving claim status and the ability to manage coverage and payments, the Keylane solution requires far less involvement in routine policy management from the insurance company – a clear cost saving advantage.

IVR systems have frustrated customers for years because they were designed to meet corporate rather than customer needs.  To avoid making the same mistake with your online service solutions, be smart – put the customer first.

About the Author

Jan Lindeboom

Jan Lindeboom works as Principal Consultant at Keylane and has been involved at the cutting edge of business and IT in the insurance sector since 1998. As well as working as consultant, he gives lectures and regularly publishes items on new technology and its impact on business and society.