One of the key trends in the insurance industry as part of businesses ‘going digital’ is the need for humans and machines to do more together. Advances in natural interfaces, wearable devices and smart machines are presenting new opportunities for companies to empower workers through technology, and to manage a workforce composed of both people and machines. Successful businesses will recognise the benefits of human talent and intelligent technology working side by side in collaboration—they will embrace them both as critical members of the reimagined workforce.
The Fjord 2015 Annual Trends report lists ‘omni-colleagues’ as the first of their nine trends. According to the Fjord report, in order to become truly digital, businesses must re-integrate people into the customer interface. Rather than an ‘omni-channel’ approach, which runs the risk of abandoning humans for automated touchpoints, Fjord suggests companies must re-humanise customer services.
This will be critical consideration in our attempts to put the customer first and develop customer-centric businesses. Over the past two decades businesses have made changes to make customer-facing channels work better, even leaning towards entirely robotic solutions. But do we really want to commoditise one of the most important opportunities we have to interact with our customers?
One way that insurers can immediately make a difference and encourage omni-colleagues is by switching the language they use. By changing from ‘staff’ or ‘operative’ to ‘colleague’, they can emphasise a sense of collective camaraderie internally. There also needs to be a shift in how insurers respond to their customers. With warm intention and compassion, colleagues can work towards building deeper relationships with customers.
Fjord offers three recommendations to insurers who want to build a culture of omni-colleagues:
- Don’t just provide digital tools and data to those on the front line; also train them with the social skills necessary to navigate a diverse group of customers.
- Consider a new type of employee evaluation that would not only measure colleagues on speed, but on the quality of the interaction with the customer.
- Think of new incentives for motivation: imagine if customer ratings were transmitted to other social, professional spaces like a LinkedIn profile.
Even though technology is moving at a breakneck pace, I think it’s important to remember that people are the true heroes of any business, and that machines are there to assist them and not replace them.
In my next post, I’ll talk about emotional interfaces and how our styles of communication are changing.
In the meantime, to learn more, read the Fjord 2015 Trends report.