Blog | Apr 19, 2022

Insurance Strategies and Challenges: Using Intelligent Automation to Enhance Customer Experience

Insurance Strategies and Challenges: Using Intelligent Automation to Enhance Customer Experience

Many insurance companies have brought in robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities only to get stuck in a tactical implementation that limits their ability to scale the benefits. Blue Prism is helping more and more insurers make the leap to embedding intelligent automation (IA) in a more strategic and transformational way. Customer experience (CX) is a strategic priority for insurance, and Intelligent Automation can play a key role in connecting front and back-end systems and processes to provide an optimal digital journey for every stage of a customer’s policy lifecycle.

Transforming customer experience can be a particular challenge because it encompasses touchpoints during the entire lifecycle of a policy, from getting quotes through to renewal or cancellation and, of course, claims. Each of these areas has pain points for the customer and the insurance organization.

When we talk to insurance providers about transformation, we say that change starts from within, but it must be driven by customer expectations and outcomes.

Driving change in claims customer experience

If you take claims as an example, there are many back-end processes and systems that are used to move a claim from first notice of loss (FNOL) through to settlement. At every stage, there are opportunities for automation and efficiencies, but a more strategic approach would be to use an intelligent digital workforce to create a seamless back-end ecosystem.

A customer FNOL interaction on the phone with a contact center agent would be transformed if the agent had all the relevant customer data at their fingertips, along with technology that removed the manual data entry elements from the process. This would instantly connect the information being given in the call to the back-end system. This could also connect with an app or website form, enabling the agent to talk to the customer in the moment and guide them through the process of providing photographs or documentation digitally.

Any of these actions can trigger automations with the next stage of the claim process, whether that’s interacting with the supply chain, booking an adjuster to visit the claimant or assessing the claim in real time to create a fast settlement turnaround.

To see how your back-end processes are impacting front-end behaviors and customer experiences, you need to get under the skin of your operations and processes. Solutions such as Blue Prism’s Process Intelligence (PI) can help with mapping and analyzing end-to-end claims and policy lifecycles.

Compliance challenges and CX

In Asia insurance markets, one product may have different challenges depending on the region where it’s being sold. Implementing automation in these regions, therefore, varies in difficulty.

In a recent roundtable, we brought together people from leading Asia-Pacific insurance companies to discuss how the value of automation can be accelerated. A participant spoke about the differences in implementing automation in Hong Kong versus Malaysia and Thailand. “Some of it is that we don’t have a unified tech stack across all markets, although we are moving towards that. But we have more nimble, larger teams in Singapore and Hong Kong, whereas for Indonesia and Malaysia it takes longer to get automation done. The other hurdle in those countries is compliance and regulatory issues, whether it’s Sharia insurance or Takaful insurance or AML regulations. This means we need to handle customer experience carefully to make it as easy as possible for them to provide the ID documents and photographs needed.”

Speeding up transformation to meet current customer expectations

Some insurers are held back by the red tape they encounter to get approvals on technology that would help them meet immediate customer expectations.

According to another roundtable member, “It seems easy when somebody has an idea and people generally say, ‘Go for it.’ But when we start to surface the cost and timeline versus the benefits, it becomes more challenging. We must spend quite a bit of time going through the approval process, especially when the cost of investment is high. And then when it becomes clear that it’s not just about one area of the organization and the cost starts to mount, it crosses the budget threshold and needs escalation to higher management and the board of directors. By the time you can get approval, a lot of time has passed, and the market has changed, or the need has changed. And you need to start the whole process again.”

It can therefore be easier to approach an automation program in phases. Start relatively small, pick simple processes to automate and focus on key metrics and what you want to achieve. But at the same time, keep perspective of what the business outcome should be from the investment. For example, what’s the cost saving per claim? Then you can think about streamlining more lines of business. As you become better and faster at implementation, you can scale by looking at automating more complex processes and the end-to-end function from a holistic position and the customer’s point of view.

When you can make one end-to-end process digital, it’s easier to consider how processes can be standardized across different departments in the organization. A truly scaled program targets transforming the entire operating model.

Because you laid out a roadmap to get there from the outset and worked your way up to it, the approvals process is simpler, and you can provide a return on investment (ROI) to senior management at each stage.

Making change happen

With larger, established insurance organizations, the challenges are typically not just in the deployment of the technology but in cultural adoption and trust. There’s tension between three components that’ll make up the future workforce — humans, automation and the Internet of Things (IoT). Leadership must be prepared to manage that tension. What we’ve learned through working with insurance customers is that you’ve got to respect the change management process. A digital workforce may be seen as a threat, rather than a resource that benefits employees. We do see that attitude changing in organizations that make the effort to share information, educate and create understanding. A successful governance framework and dedicated change management program is essential.

It’s important that an automation program is driven by a planned roadmap rather than opportunism. Ensure that you have a pipeline of opportunities that are linked to your company’s strategic priorities, and don’t be swayed by the team with the loudest voice or favored and more visible business function.

Lastly, think of intelligent automation as a platform, not just a tool. It should be considered part of the continuum of your digital and cognitive technologies that support the transformation of your enterprise — not simply a hammer to hit a nail.