Insurance contact centers face a difficult challenge in serving multiple customers, including distributors and policyholders, with very different interests. To maximize satisfaction, carriers must design contact center functionality to fit unique customer needs.
Gary Miller, senior vice president, individual policy services, New York Life, notes with some amusement that airlines' use of Web and interactive voice response (IVR) functionality often is held up as an example of technology driving effective customer service. The efficiencies are unquestionable, Miller acknowledges. However, he asks, "Have you been satisfied with the service you received from an airline?"
Miller insists that New York Life puts those technologies to use effectively. But, he adds, unlike many companies, it doesn't force its customers to use them. According to Miller, the mutual insurer uses technology to match the needs of its multiple contact center clients - who include both distributors and policyholders - within a high-touch approach that, in his words, ensures "everything takes a back seat to the phones."
Other insurers might want to follow New York Life's example, but they should only do so to the extent that their operations and resources are analogous to the New York-based carrier. All insurers face the challenge of having to allocate limited resources to the care of multiple - and often disparate - customer needs, but each must tailor its contact center strategy to its unique customer base. "The very nature of the call center can be very different, depending on who the carrier is serving, and also what the carrier's core values are," cautions Chad Hersh, a Dallas-based analyst with Celent.
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio