By Bobbi Sills, Communications Executive of the Charted Insurance Institute
In a digital age when filling in forms by hand is a thing of the past, the customer claims experience has been changed radically. There has never been more consumer information available and, at the touch of a button, data can now be gathered and analysed faster than ever.It is vital the insurance workforce develops and maintains the skills necessary to effectively work with new technology.
According to the Claims Workforce of the Future Report produced by Lloyds Market Authority and PwC, soft skills such as emotional intelligence and empathy remain integral to building customer trust.
Experts from the London market and beyond explored how the profession is driving innovation at the FutureFormers conference, hosted by Lloyds Market Authority. Among the key speakers were Sue McCall, chair of the CII’s Society of Claims Professionals; Louisa Clarke, leadership and resilience expert; Kate Bohn, innovation and strategy leader at Lloyds Banking Group; and Orlando Machado, chief data scientist.
According to Mr Machado, data intelligence is key to ensuring an excellent customer service as it allows firms to create a personalised image of the client. He said that with the influx of data, the ability to harness information in order to gain insight about customers has increased dramatically.
But as Mr Machado points out: “If you want to get data science operational within a company, this needs to be supplemented by customer-first thinking.” He says that it is not just about creative disruption, but about really trying to understand the consumer and their needs. In just seconds, data can be accessed and correlated through algorithms which evolve with and predict customer circumstances and behaviours.
Mr Machado said: “We want to use all of the data we have to know customers as well as they know themselves.” By using data in this way, insurers will able to interact with individuals more powerfully than ever, offering them relevant services and products based on their specific needs and building empathy through a more personalised approach.
Insurance professionals gathered at the event were told by Ms McCall that they must strive to humanise the claims process whilst utilising new technology to support the customer journey. At the heart of the process is the customer experience and the way in which firms build trust with the customer, according to Ms McCall. In the London Market Group’s Future of Skills in the London Market Report, three of the five overarching themes are based on communication, empathy, and personal creativity.
Ms McCall’s view was shared by Ms Clarke, who said: “We have to seek to make connection, not just with those with whom we are used to, and not just within the echo chamber of technology.” To create a climate which is conducive to innovation, Ms Clarke said that insurers must step outside of the paradigm in which they are operating in order to consider the impact of technology on customers.
The example of social media was used to illustrate how carelessness when dealing with customers through technology can lead to errors, such as that experienced by Facebook in 2014 where a ‘Year in Review’ algorithm was branded ‘algorithmic cruelty’ by web consultant Eric Mayer. The social media giant included an image of his six-year old daughter, who had died the year before, in a video it produced summing up the last 12 months, that it then encouraged him to share with his Facebook friends.
Where the human aspect fell short, in this case, was in not providing a way for users to opt out. The algorithm was created with the ‘ideal’ user in mind but did not account for other cases. When using technology to drive customer experience, insurers must remember to engage emotionally, according to Ms Clarke. She said:
“We have to intentionally think beyond our environment.”
Regulations and legacy systems often create a barrier to innovation, according to Ms Bohn. She revealed that a key fumbling block of the Lloyds GSR3 strategy, which focuses on success in the digital world, is in legacy culture and humanising processes of digitisation.
At the other end of the spectrum are the savvy Fintech and Insurtech start- ups. Ms Bohn said: “Instead of seeing this new technology as a competitor, we are very much looking at it as a collaboration.”
“These are people that have very specific skillsets in niche areas that can really help us to accelerate our understanding and awareness.” Against this backdrop, Lloyd’s Lab was kickstarted in 2018, a ten-week programme allowing managing agents within the market to work alongside Insurtech companies on some of the key challenges facing Lloyd’s.
Sharing skills in this way creates a process of natural reciprocity, which allows firms to successfully incorporate technology faster, said Ms Bohn. Insurers are now using data more intelligently than ever. Artificial intelligence can help to streamline the underwriting and claims processes, allowing firms to reduce costs and improve business efficiency. As we enter a new decade, the need to keep pace with fast-moving technology while maintaining the fundamental values of the profession has never been more vital.