Agents and consumers are demanding faster service delivery with lower margins of error for managing and monitoring their claims. As a result, the deciding factor in choosing an insurance carrier has become less a question of relationships and more about who provides the most accessible and accurate information.
Web portals have become a leading solution to meet these demands by offering readily accessible information, updated in real time. In fact, portals have become the premier interface strategy for the modern insurer. But Web portal design for a carrier must be structured carefully, lest the carrier fall prey to "technology for the sake of technology" without an in-depth examination of true customer needs.
Improving the Claims Model
Before developing and implementing such a Web portal, it is important to ask yourself a series of questions from the customer's perspective:
- What steps must be taken for a first-loss notice?
- What interactions will I have to engage in throughout the claims process?
- How is my claim going to be managed?
- How long will it take to process my claim?
- What else do I need to know?
Extend capabilities to your agents and adjusters that enable them to assist your customers from within their own domains. Offer claims process tracking; policy and claims disposition inquiries; and a host of focused follow-up tools and instructions. For the carrier, this will simplify claims status monitoring and, most importantly, allow you to significantly differentiate the customer relationship by better understanding all facets of their claims experience.
Web portals have given customers, agents, carriers and adjusters access to numerous facets of a particular claim and its status. The unfortunate trade-off of such availability is "information overload" - too much material irrelevant to the particular needs of each target audience.
This dilution of data makes it far more challenging for the customer to decipher; therefore, it is critical that the portal dashboard allow for a context-based view, effectively filtering information resources to provide answers and recommendations for specific customer concerns. Among them:
- Who will be involved in the claim?
- What is expected of me throughout the claims process?
- What is the current status of my claim to date?
- When will I receive status updates?
- How and when will the claim ultimately be resolved?
The ease with which the customer can obtain answers to these questions will be fundamental to the goal of a customer-centric claims environment. To support this, it is important not to overlook the roles of the agent and adjuster in working with the carrier, as all are important pieces in the customer-centric claims puzzle. Ultimately, a context-based dashboard will equip all targeted stakeholders - and most significantly, customers - with access to the information and resources they have come to depend upon and expect from a modern insurance carrier.
Quite simply, the significance of maintaining a high level of customer service has never been more important. From the customer's perspective, a portal-based claims environment tailored to his individual needs and concerns is perhaps the most visible way to offer true differentiation in an industry where claims service is too frequently "more of the same." Carriers commonly lose personal insurance customers as a result of poorly managed claims processes, making a streamlined, customer-centric claims environment essential.
A carefully deployed, context-based Web portal dashboard is key to successfully navigating customer need, resulting in happier customers and a more successful insurance carrier.
Interactive Business Systems, Oak Brook, Ill., provides consulting services to the insurance and other industries.