Intelligent automation will have a big impact on insurers’ customers and staff. Carriers need to put people first when they deploy this powerful technology.

The rise of intelligent automation offers insurers a great opportunity to bolster their customer relations. Many product enquiries and policy applications and renewals, as well as claims pay-outs, can be handled quickly and accurately by sophisticated intelligent automation solutions.

However, the advance of intelligent automation also presents insurers with a big question: How much of their contact with customers do they want to hand over to machines? Intelligent automation will undoubtedly become more efficient and powerful. But some customers may baulk at not being able to speak to a human being about their insurance needs. Moreover, there are customer interactions, particularly those that require empathy and intuition, which might be best handled by people.

The deployment of intelligent customer service solutions also affects another group of people – employees. Many insurance workers are wary of the advance of intelligent automation. More than half the managers we recently surveyed wouldn’t trust the advice of intelligent systems in making business decisions.

A far-sighted approach to intelligent automation puts people first. It recognizes that the wide-scale implementation of this technology doesn’t just improve efficiency and productivity. It shifts how information flows between customers, machines and knowledge workers. While intelligent automation will replace some tasks currently performed by insurance workers, its greatest and most pervasive influence will be augmenting the work performed by employees.

Key issues that should be addressed when implementing intelligent automation to enhance customer service

Identify tasks to be automated. Tasks that intelligent automation systems can currently perform include understanding basic customer needs; proposing suitable product offerings or problem resolutions; and opening accounts and issuing standard policies. Increasing sophistication will enable them to quiz customers for further information; explain more complex issues; synthesize potential product offerings; and encourage appropriate customer responses. Insurance providers need to determine what kind of experience they want to offer their customers, what level of engagement they require, and what pricing can support these relationships.

Develop a distribution strategy. Most insurers are likely to incorporate digital customer services within an omni-channel distribution strategy. Around nine percent of insurers have already launched products or services that use artificial intelligence and robotic automation and a further 17 percent of carriers are testing such offerings. The recent wave of “robo-advisors” is a prime example of this. Changes to the distribution strategy will affect insurers’ business models and IT architectures. Distribution partnerships and ecosystem alliances will require insurers to think carefully about how they brand and position smart digital customer services.

Devise a workforce integration process. The strengths of intelligent automation, such as its speed, scalability and ability to cut through complexity, must be closely aligned to the skills, objectives and culture of the workforce. Strong leadership, which promotes the benefits of intelligent automation for employees as well as the organization, will be vital to ensure the acceptance of digital “co-workers” in the workplace. Training, staff development and talent management will need to be adapted to meet the demands of a highly-automated work environment.

In my next blog post I’ll discuss some of the intelligent automation products and services leading technology vendors are bringing to market. Until then, have a look at these links. I’m sure you’ll find them useful.

Robotics in insurance: A holistic approach to automation

The promise of artificial intelligence: Redefining management in the workforce of the future

Managers and machines, unite!

Technology Vision for Insurance 2016: People First

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