It’s great when you manage to defuse a potentially damaging customer issue that threatens to spill into the public domain. But how much better is it to prevent the issue in the first place?

The second of four trends, which I’m discussing in this series on how digital is reshaping customer service in insurance, is the bias toward prevention rather than cure.

The gist of it is that carriers today have access to data and predictive technologies that allow them to detect whenever a customer problem arises – sometimes even before the customer is aware of it. This enables them to take pre-emptive action before it escalates into something serious.

We’ve spoken a lot about the Internet of Things, and how it is already being used by many insurers to help their customers manage their risks. In-home devices that trigger an alert when a water heater springs a leak are just one example, but they show how carriers can switch from being reactive risk indemnifiers to proactive everyday risk coaches.

Smart systems will also be able to detect when customers are having difficulty with some aspect of insurance, and then help them before they get frustrated. By monitoring social media posts and queries on their own website, for example, they might learn that their policy documents are confusing or even misleading. In addition to fixing the documents they could contact the customers to clear up the issue. Some companies are starting to use automated personalized digital videos to explain complicated issues, such as policy exclusions or bill formats, in that way taking the steam out of potential problems – and maybe even giving customers a moment of magic when they need it most.

In my next post I’ll talk about the third trend: the super-charging of digital channels. If you’d like to read more about this topic, take a look here.

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