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Health Care Service Corporation

Transform the Consumer Experience

How Agents and Brokers can Transform the Consumer Experience
By Tom Clayton, HP
November 2011

The last time I filed a claim I called the insurer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you did too. Or perhaps if you are a part of the younger, tech-savvy Generation Y, you visited the insurer’s website, which now accounts for nearly one-fourth of an insurer’s interactions with policyholders. Despite the growing popularity of this channel, however, local agents and brokers remain the key drivers of overall policyholder satisfaction.

Agents and brokers play a vital role to create the meaningful connections that not only increase policyholder retention but also reduce expensive calls to customer service and boost referral and renewal rates among existing policyholders. And amidst increased web usage among Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices among Gen Y (those born between 1997 and 1994), customers increasingly desire personalized communications including quotes and proposals, policies and policyholder notifications via the web, SMS, mobile apps and email. This creates a unique opportunity for insurers to empower agents and brokers to deliver communications thru customer preferred channels.

Here are some techniques for how insurers can enable agents and brokers to not only deliver against increased web usage and the proliferation of mobile devices, but also tailor their services to meet the unique needs of different customer segments.

• Upgrade from legacy systems. As policyholders increasingly demand intelligent, personalized communications, it remains vital that insurers create quotes and proposals, policies and policyholder notifications through new – and preferred channels – such as the web, SMS, mobile apps and email. However, most systems are tied to old processes and do not easily support these types of electronic delivery channels. Gen Y in particular indicated in the 2010 J.D. Power and Associates Insurance Shopping Study that they want more electronic communications and resources from their insurers, but many of them are not receiving it.

 Enhance data capture and access customer analytics (BI/CRM systems). Effective on boarding requires a well defined process as customers increasingly demand detailed and timely policy information to help better understand their coverage. Enterprise content, customer relationship, and policy administration management systems drive context aware experiences that leverage customer past interactions and preferences to achieve greater customer satisfaction. Customer insights used in direct marketing pieces, newsletters, quotes and proposals not only improve response rates and return on marketing investment, but also increase retention by proactively managing “at risk” customers and using analytics systems for lead generation and referral analysis.

• Automate document processes. Agents are often the first point of contact for new clients, and therefore need time to cultivate customer relationships and create meaningful connections. Document automation processes help to populate up-to-date data – including regulative and legislative – into documents, simplify captured data integration and connect with existing workflows. As a result, insurers can increase straight through processing, reduce policy cycle time for specialty and commercial insurance and reduce time agents spend on administrative tasks. In fact, many leading insurers have developed self-service portals for agents to increase straight through processing, upwards of 70 percent.

 Integrate electronic signatures. Rather than deliver quotes, proposals or claims correspondence via traditional print channels and then waiting for policyholders to sign and fax or mail back, insurance agents and brokers can deliver documents via the web, mobile apps and email, enabling policyholders to electronically sign contracts, agreements and other time sensitive policyholder communications. Electronic signatures have achieved reductions from as many as three to four weeks to a few days. For instance, a health insurance benefits company integrated e-signatures in their contracts among hospitals, physicians and other healthcare professionals, reducing total processing time by more than 85 percent. However, not only do electronic signatures accelerate transactions and improve response times, they feature tracking capabilities for real-time completed customer communications and often mitigate exposure to risks such as unsigned policies.

• Provide real-time content for smartphone and tablet-based apps. According to the J.D. Power Insurance Intelligence Monitor, insurance customers – particularly Gen Y – are apt to use mobile phone apps, and insurers such as Nationwide and USAA are rapidly introducing smartphone applications into the market that appeal to Gen Y. Through online web portals, insurers can directly connect to content repositories that provide both intelligent and interactive documents to agents and brokers who can then select and apply the appropriate content to be delivered to policyholders via smartphone and tablet-based apps. Insurers that successfully leverage smartphone and tablet apps can generate new revenue opportunities, reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.

Web, SMS, mobile apps and email channels are a catalyst for not only attracting and acquiring new customers but also growing and servicing existing customers. In fact, studies show that servicing and growing an existing customer costs insurance carriers five to seven times less than capturing a new customer. There is a unique opportunity for insurers to empower agents and brokers to manage policyholder expectations and deliver the communications that policyholders desire.

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