Through the pandemic, many carriers accelerated their plans to develop digital customer experiences that allow customers to satisfy their needs without having to speak with a live person. However, there are still situations where it may be important for customers to talk to someone directly. Human interaction is beneficial when customers need to resolve complex situations. Additionally, this type of engagement helps customers connect with agents on an emotional level, which strengthens their relationship to the business. When customers engage directly with agents, the quality of that interaction is critical.
In my most recent blog series, I discussed what’s next for insurers who want to drive value through enhanced customer experiences. I noted that a human+machine approach is an important feature of the customer engagements of tomorrow. Having reviewed the Reimagine Customer Experience submissions for this year’s Qorus (formerly Efma) Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards, I wanted to highlight a few insurers that are innovatively applying data, analytics, and technology to support and enhance human interactions.
Visi´Home from Allianz Partners
Allianz Partners’ Visi´Home service is elevating the virtual customer support experience. It’s a diagnostic service that supports customers remotely, assessing incidents that have caused damage in the home. It leverages video calling to connect customers directly to a claims handler who can diagnose the damage and connect them to the right service provider. The team at Allianz Partners developed this service in the wake of physical distancing protocols through the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent rapid adoption of video conferencing, rolling it out in France in 2020.
When customers are struggling with issues like a burst pipe or broken appliance, they might not know what the issue is or how to solve it. Over a call, an experienced agent can take a look at the problem right away, eliminating the need for repair and maintenance professionals to make an initial house call to assess the situation. Furthermore, they are better equipped to find the right repair person and leave instructions about what parts or tools they will need to complete the job. Down the line, this saves significant time, money and even emissions as repair professionals only need to make a single trip—no need to double back to get a part from the shop.
Visi´Home brings the insurer closer to their customers and helps them deliver an extremely personalized experience when customers need it most. Providing in-the-moment support positions the carrier as a trusted friend, ultimately driving loyalty and reliance.
I see this type of innovation preparing the insurance industry to go a step beyond the connected customer experience to an embedded customer experience. Our recent report, Technology Vision 2022, talks at length about the applications of augmented reality (AR) in our everyday lives—and in the customer experience of the future.
One of the applications of AR discussed in Tech Vision is the concept of using mobile devices or (eventually) IoT-connected glasses to overlay the physical environment with information like directions to a location, restaurant reviews, or packaged product ingredients. Visi´Home is a promising precursor to this type of technology. While the service currently relies on video calling to connect customers with agents, this type of product could easily translate into an AR experience. For instance, diagnostics could be run by artificial intelligence and agents could “point” via a virtual overlay as they give instructions in real-time on the customer’s device.
FWD Care from FWD Group
FWD’s healthcare service innovation successfully balances technology and human connection. The FWD Care program provides customers who are going through illness, end of life, or the loss of a loved one with a dedicated nurse. Once a critical event claim is approved, customers are paired with a nurse who engages with them on an ongoing basis for up to six months at no additional cost. The nurse is trained to navigate the medical and administrative questions the customer might have and be a source of emotional support during a difficult time. On top of this service, the program connects customers with other resources.
FWD focuses on deeply meaningful human interactions as a key differentiator. While every person going through a life crisis such as a critical illness or loss needs emotional support, each individual customer has different resource requirements. To deliver on personalization, FWD created a network of care to meet different customer needs. They provide a wide variety of resources—both virtual and in-person—including medical appointment transportation, counseling and even legal advice.
As the industry turns towards automated solutions for customer interaction, it’s important for carriers to assess where the human touch is having the most impact and work to preserve or enhance the use of human agents in that area. For FWD, there’s a high ROI in investing in their customers in this way. The program has achieved an overall customer satisfaction score of 99.7% in Hong Kong and Thailand where it was piloted, leading to increased loyalty and retention.
According to new research from Salesforce, 73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. Ninety-four percent of customers say great experiences make them more likely to purchase again, a number that’s up by three percentage points since 2020. Finally, 96% of customers say excellent service builds trust. Strategic delivery of human care can help customers feel that they matter to insurers and that their carrier is truly there for them through life’s toughest experiences.
AI Meeting Platform from Ping An Insurance
When it comes to internal processes, technology solutions can be implemented to empower teams of human agents to provide the exceptional experiences customers need and expect. Chinese insurance company, Ping An, developed their AI Meeting Platform to enhance communication between sales agents and customers. The platform makes it easier for agents to have customer data as well as relevant informational resources on hand, so that they can deliver extremely tailored suggestions and supporting material in real-time. Ping An refers to this as an online+offline experience which provides customers with the benefits of having a face-to-face conversation alongside the efficiency of data-driven sales enablement and seamless remote meeting capabilities.
The platform makes it far easier to train sales agents and keep them compliant, so they can focus on having meaningful conversations. For example, a companion robot built into the solution guides salespeople away from using sensitive words in real-time, ensuring that agents communicate the right message and avoid misleading sales.
The platform also includes virtual reality (VR) meeting room, the first of its kind in the industry. This VR experience enables sales team members to make customers feel welcome even if they are meeting remotely. Ping An is able to serve more customers in more regions with this added flexibility. Agents have been able to accommodate the changes to in-person interaction brought on by the pandemic through enhanced virtual experiences.
Rather than fully automating the sales experience, Ping An augmented their online sales process with tools that could provide what an in-person experience previously offered—namely, connection. They further enhanced that experience with AI innovation that makes it easier for salespeople to meet customers where they are at, bringing in the benefits of personalization technology that today’s customers are used to.
Enabling human+machine experiences
These examples are evidence of a wave of innovation in the insurance industry enhancing technology to enable better human-to-human experiences, rather than replacing them entirely. Going forward, carriers will need to develop a data collection and decision-making strategy to determine where customers need and expect self-service and where they prefer to interact with a live person.
The innovations discussed above also require humans to deliver services at a higher level of empathy and competency. Carriers will need to develop training and coaching programs, many of which will increasingly be powered by AI, and potentially retool their organizational culture to deliver compassion and expertise that will stand out to customers.
If you’re interested in discussing this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me.