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Report: has true customer centricity finally landed in claims?

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Report: has true customer centricity finally landed in claims?

Rethinking customer centricity in claims journeys in the digital age

TIN and ABBYY surveyed the UK claims community in February 2021 to identify the biggest challenges in improving claims performance and the claims experience - and to identify key priorities for digital transformation within claims - to establish the key themes for Virtual Digital Claims, on March 16th which was hosted by TIN and sponsored by ABBYY. This report summarises the outcomes of the survey and the issues raised during the keynote session at Virtual Digital Claims as well as some of the following sessions. The keynote session featured Ian Thompson, the Group Claims Director at Zurich, and Eileen Potter, Insurance Lead at ABBYY and was facilitated by Jeremy Burgess of TIN.

There has been an unmistakable shift away from the business case for claims transformation being made around operational efficiency and cost savings. The main driver has become enhancing the customer experience (primarily, but not exclusively, digital): when asked, 57% of respondents chose “rethinking claims customer journeys” as the key driver. The conversation has changed from paying lip service to customer centricity and tactically tweaking the claims experience to fundamentally rethinking the claims experience in a much more strategic way.

This has led insurers to look again at the ‘Holy Trinity of Transformation’ (People, Process and Technology) through the lens of a genuine customer centricity driven by the fact that in a post COVID world customer experience is set to be the key differentiator and driver of competitive advantage in claims. 

Having the right people is key

The survey made it clear that respondents understand that investing in new technology alone will not deliver transformation, and that culture, mindset, skills, capabilities are equally critical to success.

One respondent summarised this very succinctly:

“there is a skills and capabilities gap between what the traditional role of the claims function has done and what the new claims professional will look like. The market is still clinging to what it knows how to do rather than challenging itself to change, adapt and improve…improving claims performance through digital transformation requires a mindset change…to get digital capabilities out there in front of customers and being used by them”

This focus on the people challenges was strongly reflected in the responses to the survey. In the question asking for the biggest challenges in improving claims performance: ‘changing mindsets and culture’ was equal top with legacy technology (it never goes away!) but taken together with ‘having the right skills and capabilities’ people challenges were the clear winner: the challenge facing claims is as much a people and culture challenge as it is an IT and operations one – and ditto the solutions.

Both keynote speakers took a moment to reflect on the pandemic, the sector’s response and the fact that we are now in a period of transition where business and operating models, and specifically claims operating models, are being revisited. For Ian Thompson and Zurich, the pandemic has led to a refocusing on the customer and customer experience, but also on their people, and the skills and capabilities they need to deliver the kind of service the customer now wants:

“I’ve talked about how our people have adapted and developed in this environment. That ability was always there, we had just never given them the ability to demonstrate it. So we've got to build on our people capabilities. We talk about a digital world, a world driven by data. We need to help our people adapt to this environment…we need to invest to help people adapt and evolve to build the skills, not just the traditional skills which are still important but technical skills, and increasingly customer skills, and the ability to utilize data and utilize technology…and make themselves relevant within the organization of the future”

He went on to say:

We set our stall out at Zurich to say we're not going to get through this by cutting heads and restructuring and reducing people. We're going to support our people because we believe by supporting our people, we can deliver better for our customers. And that's been very true in claims…

…there have been areas in which the volumes have dropped off and new claims coming in have reduced: so our people have therefore had more time. And what we've seen is that when the relevance of those metrics around wait time, call handle time, wrap time have become diminished, we get better customer service and better claims outcomes. We've now got empirical data on that…this is really powerful stuff…think about that…those metrics that were designed to drive efficiency have been detrimental to customer service and arguably detrimental to the claims outcome as well.

This is indicative of the mindset and culture change that is necessary to pivot to a truly customer centric digitally enabled business model – outdated ways of appraising work, as well as outdated ways of working need to be re-imagined and re-engineered, and so does the way we structure our teams. Ian spoke passionately about “blowing up the structure” and thinking outside our silos. He made the point that even within claims we have claims operations teams, data and insights teams, technical teams etc and those boundaries need removing. An example of this is being able to integrate insights from claims data into the underwriting decision. This may be an old example of how and why insurers need to break down silos to leverage data better, but it’s still illustrative of the challenge we face. It is about the whole organisation coming together to define a data strategy…

“…and actually to sit down and go, “how do we work together to identify what's of value” and “how to share that in a way that it is actually going to be utilized? How do we measure its utilization? How do we coach and train people around why this is valuable?” And then also “How do we use that as a forum for continuous improvements into their insights?” Rather than underwriting going to claims with a shopping list of all the data they wish they had, and claims saying “yes but you don't understand….” We move forward through collaboration and being outcome focused”

In a later session on Delivering next generation claims Ellie Mickleburgh, former Marketing Director at Ageas elaborated on this point on sharing data between claims and underwriting, saying how in the past, everyone else wanted claims data from claims to improve their performance, but now the data is flowing the other way to drive improvements in the customer experience – a case in point of a focus on customer outcomes driving organisational change.

To continue reading the following chapters on:

  • Achieving customer centric processes
  • Rehinking technology
  • Data will underpin everything

Click here to download the full PDF report 'Has true customer centricity finally landed in claims?'

To check out the sponsor ABBYY, click here

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