The connected world has given rise to digitally-aware customers who have heightened expectations of their service providers. This is where delivering on a digitally-rich experience becomes a competitive advantage for insurers. An integral element of the digitalisation of traditional customer engagement practices lies in the capability of delivering digital self-service. Annalie Terblanche, head of product at SilverBridge, examines how this self-service has become an enabler in this regard while reducing the costs typically associated with a traditional approach to customer service.
The study, ‘The Value of Customer Self-Service in the Digital Age’, has identified the three most important attributes companies need for improved customer experience. These are having faster response times, delivering consistency across channels, and having knowledgeable staff. Those organisations that fail to deliver on these expectations can potentially experience bad reviews on social networks and see an increase in customer churn.
“When combining these attributes that help shape the experience with the ability to empower customers to take charge in how they use a service, insurers can create a more personal engagement while also leveraging the technology tools at their disposal more effectively. Tying all this together is data analysis. By understanding what it is that customers want, delivering it through their preferred medium, and backing that up by employees who can deliver relevant insights, an insurer can deliver enhanced digital customer experiences,” she says.
Delivering on expectations
Of course, the concept of a self-service economy is hardly a new thing. First mentioned by Jonathan Gershuny in his book of the same name in 1978, its implementation has evolved over the years as technology has become more integrated into people’s way of life.
“Some argue that the move towards self-service harms the relationships companies have with their customers. For example, it is seen to fragment society into what one article calls atomised individuals – people isolated from the brands they buy from. However, if the pandemic has illustrated anything then it is the need to have modern digital services available to customers that enable them to transact with companies using digital tools. This is not about selling to customers in isolation but instead providing them with the personalised and unique experiences that they have come to expect from modern organisations,” she adds.
For its part, SilverBridge recently introduced a policyholder portal for one of its clients to enable them to deliver effective self-service to their customer base. This sees policy holders view and update their contact details, view the benefits, cover, and premium per policy, as well as generate policy schedules. The self-service further encompasses an electronic claims submissions process and the ability to seamlessly add supporting documents.
Not only does this provide a completely transparent process with the policyholder getting information at any time, but it has empowered customers to bypass the call centre for basic queries and action it on their own time.
An economic shift
Self-service is not only a more customer-friendly tactic for insurers to implement, it can also greatly reduce costs, both from claims and resources perspectives. For instance, by using an app to record video and take photographs of an accident, the customer can significantly expedite the claims process reducing the resources required from an insurer perspective. And by having chat bots available to deal with the most frequently asked customer questions, call centre agents can focus on resolving more complex queries.
“Digitalising the experience does not have to be a difficult process. Instead, insurers can leverage the insights they have on their customers and use self-service to make it more engaging and personal for the digital world,” she concludes.
With extensive experience in designing and implementing solutions for retail and corporate long-term insurers, including pensions and employee benefits, SilverBridge is one of the largest providers of specialised technology solutions to emerging markets. Its experience also includes the development of artificial intelligence and robotic process automation solutions not only for insurance, but also the banking and telecommunications industries.