However, customers still prefer working directly with a person rather than using these offerings, according to recent research from Forrester.
Surveying 100 claimants across several lines of business, Forrester found that 56% of respondents said they preferred to work with a person rather than use digital self-service tools. The analyst firm found that even if a customer filed a claim online, they’d often follow up immediately with a phone call to confirm the process had worked. That undermines the point of the digital enhancements, which are supposed to reduce the load on claims and contact center resources, Forrester notes.
Forrester principal analyst Ellen Carney, who wrote the report along with David Hoffman and Christiana Lano, says that digitalization can’t work alone to shed the opaque perception of the insurance claims process. Even the most tech-savvy customers are calling to follow up, she says, because they “hope a human will take away some of that opacity in terms of the decision-making and the process behind the scenes.
“It’s a black box — starts with a first notice of loss, something happens, and a payment comes out or someone shows up but most consumers don’t have a good sense of how some of these decisions get made,” she adds.
What’s happened across the insurance industry, Carney says, is that digitalization has focused on efficiency, not efficacy. Technology has reduced cycle times and has improved some operations, especially by reducing the manual workload for claims professionals. But those behind-the-scenes efficiency gains are not visible to consumers, who are filing a claim because something traumatic has happened to them. They still crave the reassurance that someone at their insurance company hears them.
“Nature abhors a vacuum,” Carney explains. “[Claimants] want to have that filled with a conversation or a telephone ring or something like that. There’s an opportunity to deliver an empathetic experience to someone who just wants to complain about that driver who T-boned them at an intersection, or the shopping cart that hit the car, or the family mementos they might’ve lost in a home fire.
“It’s not about settling the claim faster,” she concludes. “The kinds of capabilities that need investments are ones that make the desk adjuster or the claims adjuster be more effective in delivering an empathetic experience.”