How Is Automation Able To Help Insurers To Recover In The Pandemic?
As the coronavirus’ toll continues to impact populations across the globe, insurance agencies are burdened with figuring out how to support policyholders across a variety of unprecedented circumstances. From increases in death and disability claims to large commercial and specialty claims as factories close, to workers’ compensation and third-party liability claims, agents have suddenly been tasked with processing a massive volume of sensitive cases.
Compounded with a substantial influx of claims is the fact that many agents have been forced to quickly switch to remote work, potentially hindering productivity outside of their typical office structure. As a result, the service quality that agents are capable of providing may suffer if they don’t arm themselves with the tools needed to efficiently respond to customer concerns. And with coronavirus cases increasing, these challenges will only become more glaring.
One potential solution? Automation. By executing the time-consuming and often tedious back-office processes that constitute much of agency work, automation can expedite agents’ workflows so that they can operate more resourcefully and deliver a better experience to customers both under today’s circumstances, as well as during any future challenges agencies may face.
Here’s how automation can help those in the insurance industry overcome common challenges resulting from COVID-19 and establish efficiencies that set them up for future success.
Preventing Agent Burnout
The sheer volume of work today’s agents are dealing with would give even the best-adjusted agents pause, but approaching these challenges while remote, away from the tools and support of their offices, greatly increases the risk of employee burnout. However, with automation to support their daily workflows, agents can better manage their responsibilities and reduce stress.
Instead of manually processing every inbound — which can lead to hours upon hours of work — agents can use automation technologies to compile necessary data from various locations and then plug that data into operating systems. Across the variety of claims experiencing upticks, automation can handle processing the spikes, regardless of whether claims are submitted through paper, email, or contact center channels, doing so with increased accuracy and speed. Additionally, by aggregating data into a centralized location and format, automation reduces the frequency of routine queries between coworkers, who can instead be more self-efficient in their workflows.
Automation software can also execute straight-through-processing of simpler claims where no or little payment is needed (proportional to policy value) to complete customer requests without the need for human intervention. For example, automation can service customer requests for Certificates of Insurance and Proof of Coverage by monitoring emails for the inbounds and creating the service request, then executing policy data extraction, certificate or proof letter creation, and ultimately managing customer communication.
Automation can also assist with more complex responsibilities; more advanced, machine learning-infused automation software is capable of making strategic decisions to support fraud analysis and even create litigation packages where needed. With these tedious but necessary tasks taken care of, agents can stay on top of their workloads and dedicate more of their time towards rewarding, strategic agency activities.
Additionally, because some automation software programs can be easily integrated with existing legacy systems, agents need not fear that automation implementation will require operational downtime to set up. Instead, with the right platform, agencies can get programs up and running quickly to experience automation’s benefits.
Expediting Customer Requests
Individuals around the world are facing an entirely new set of exhausting, if not devastating, challenges and the last thing they want to encounter is a disorganized or overwhelmed insurance agency. Likewise, as insurance agencies strive to improve revenue and margin pressures, ensuring customers receive a positive experience when they issue claims is essential right now. Unfortunately, because agencies are inundated with excess work, agents might be struggling to keep pace with the volume of incoming work, and as a result, there may be processing delays or errors, which can sour customers’ perception of the agency.
Delivering a seamless customer experience starts with optimizing the platforms through which customers will be engaging with the agency. Automated chatbots can be deployed as customers’ first point of contact, assisting them through self-service processes so that they can find the information they need without busying a representative, thereby cutting down on customer wait time. If the bot is incapable of completing the customer’s unique request, it can opt to elevate the conversation to an agent, meaning agency employees are only called in for the inquiries in which their input will be most valuable.
Automation can also work behind the scenes to enable agents to engage in more thoughtful conversations with customers. Just as automation software can organize data, agents can action the technology when a policyholder calls into source relevant customer information, eliminating delays caused by the agent having to collect that information themselves. Armed with this knowledge, agents can help customers resolve sooner.
Hiring During the Pandemic
At the end of the day, agencies should still rely on their human agents to move the business forward, and with the increases in claims, many are likely looking to hire to support existing workforces. But while agencies need extra talent to support the influx of customer requests, it can be difficult for staff to source and onboard employees efficiently on top of their usual priorities (and to do so while remote).
Automation can assist with employee onboarding by executing HR administrative work such as resume processing, assessing credentials, and payroll processing. With automation to assist, agents can complete onboarding processes at ten times the usual pace, allowing them to get back to their core responsibilities.
As advisors trusted to manage policyholders’ risks and make suggestions for the right products and courses of action when critical moments arise, the expectations are high for insurance agents. While COVID-19 has pushed many agencies to their limits, it has also presented an opportunity to leverage automation to optimize all the resulting work. Whether it's tackling the challenges of today or preparing for those that have even yet to happen, automation can provide essential support to insurance agents so that they can deliver exceptional service to those in need without burning themselves out.
Inmediate is an insurtech startup from Singapore that is using the latest technology such as Artificial intelligence, Distributed Ledger, and NLP, making insurance processing and underwriting fast, cheap, and flexible. That gives for better processes, lower costs, improved time to market, and new revenue opportunities.