Everything you need to embrace self-service in claims
Self-service is the new ‘call centre’ of the insurance world. It’s now well established in sales and customer service where customers can purchase and manage many types of policy wholly online. Claims departments are now starting to provide the same online options. Even in large complex insurance self-service is being embraced - the Future at Lloyd’s project may have moved claims self-service to the top of insurance organisations priority lists. The project aims to re-establish Lloyd's as the world's leading insurance marketplace and includes plans for a digital interface for policyholders to submit and manage claims.
In this article, we will examine why self-service has become a must-have for claims. We will also look at how to successfully introduce it and the importance of protecting the data collected from your policyholders.
Is there an appetite for self-service?
You may think self-service is a relatively new phenomenon, but it all began in 1833 when the first vending machine was invented.
Today’s consumers have a ferocious appetite to carry out transactions without human assistance, thanks to retail giants like Amazon and eBay. They have changed our purchasing habits by providing a fast and convenient way of conducting retail transactions which satisfy our need for instant gratification. Consumers now expect a digital service across all industries.
Compared to other sectors, insurance has been slow to adopt self-service models. Organisations have had to adapt their business strategies to focus on customer-centricity and replace outdated working practices with modern processes supported by technology.
Policyholders have long been frustrated by the claims process. Historically, it has been slow, paper-laden, manual and lacked transparency. Policyholders want a simple digital claims process they can access at their convenience on any device. Service is now a competitive differentiator. A digital claims service has become an important factor in the decision-making process for customers buying an insurance policy.
Claims departments should also have an appetite for self-service. Not only does it improve customer satisfaction, it also reduces claims handling costs. Claims staff can concentrate on more complex tasks as routine work is automated and claims handling times are reduced. Once analysed, the data you collect will give you valuable insights into what policyholders need and can be used to improve your claims service.
How will you get your policyholders to embrace self-service through your claims portal?
As an insurer, you need to deliver a self-service claims portal which solves policyholder’s problems. It should provide a quick and straightforward way of dealing with an already stressful situation. Your claims portal should:
Be easy to use: design your claims portal, so it is simple to navigate and logical. Direct your policyholders to the main activities they can perform, for example, filling in a claims form or uploading document and photos.
Optimise for mobile: a large percentage of policyholders will view your claims portal on a mobile device. Make sure it is mobile friendly and mirrors your website.
Answer popular questions: include an FAQ section which answers the most common customer queries. For example, when should I report a claim? How will you pay my claim?
Have an intuitive search function: people get frustrated with search functions who give them poor results. Make sure you tag pages and sections with keywords, for example, excesses or settlement figure.
Be human: your policyholders know they are being helped by technology, but you can improve the experience by making your claims portal more human. For example, use customer-friendly, jargon-free language and align it with your brand's tone of voice.
Show contact options: sometimes policyholders will need help from one of your staff. Display your contact methods prominently so they can contact you if they want to. Track your customers’ activity in the portal. Offer them the opportunity to speak to someone on your claims team if, for example, they haven’t been able to upload a document successfully.
How can insurers protect and manage customer data?
Self-service claims portals can be a data vulnerability point. With the legal obligations insurers face regarding protecting policyholder data, having a robust data security strategy in place is essential. Your strategy should document the risks, systems and controls in place and include a mitigation plan to cover data breaches. Other actions you can take to protect your claims data are:
Carry out a security audit: to identify risks and evaluate the systems and processes your organisation uses to collect and process data.
Review your security systems and tools: are they providing adequate protection? Can they be circumvented? Are there any gaps you need to fill?
Understand where you store your data: you may have data stored internally and in external storage facilities like the cloud. Make sure external storage providers meet UK data regulations if they are storing data outside the EEU.
Use secure communication channels: while email is a standard business communication tool, it is not a secure way to exchange information. Instead, use a secure document and data-sharing platform with data encryption to secure your data.
Train your employees: you can have the most secure systems in place, but often your staff inadvertently place your organisation at risk. Invest in security training for them, including constructing passwords, phishing attacks and email management.
Take out a cybersecurity insurance policy: although this could be considered shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, it’s sensible to protect your organisation from a cyber attack. As well as financial compensation, policies may also include forensic investigation into the attack, advice on solutions and offer PR assistance to limit reputational damage.
Implementing self-service in claims will improve the customer experience and deliver efficiencies for your organisation. If you'd like to learn more about delivering a 21st-century claims experience to your policyholders, join us for Digital Claims 2020.