Industry Research : Middle East Insurance Providers Should Take Advantage of Technology
Opportunities for growth in the Middle East insurance market are abundant. According to David McLean, Chief Executive of the Middle East Insurance Forum (MEIF), "The attractive demographics, increasing customer awareness, positive regulatory reforms and increase in average individual income in the Middle East have made the region one of the fastest growing and most attractive insurance markets." Backing this claim is recent analysis which has shown that total premiums generated by 13 MENA insurance markets grew 17.1% year-on-year to US$ 31.4bn.
Shaheen Haque, Territory Manager, Middle East & Turkey at Interactive Intelligence says that to capitalize on these opportunities, regional insurance providers must acknowledge the need to transform from policy and product based, to customer based organizations. Ineffective business processes or lack of integrated communications within an insurance organization have an impact on customer experience. Like any industry, insurance faces significant challenges in its quest to provide excellent customer service. Often, insurance providers are acutely aware of the need to apply technology to improve customer facing processes, but fail to correctly identify key requirements of proposed solutions. The situation is complicated by disparate systems, legacy data structures and ineffective contact centre platforms which result in the creation rather than the solution of problems.
Shaheen Haque, Territory Manager, Middle East & Turkey at Interactive Intelligence makes a case for the deployment of advanced technology solutions in the contact centres of modern insurance providers. While identifying pain points, he also outlines the business benefits and potential streamlining of operations that result from addressing these through smart technology deployments.
In many insurance organizations, critical business processes are often still completed by passing documents and file folders from department to department, manually typing in information from those documents, or copying and pasting between multiple different applications. IT departments should explore opportunities to digitize, both documents and processes, and deploy advanced technology solutions that support communications and the automation of document-centric business processes. This process automation should include the ability to easily source data from multiple other systems such as policy or claims management and legacy databases without custom integrations, to avoid Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) having to manually type or copy/paste. The right solution will enable reduced process cycle times and reduced errors. CSRs should have automated reminders for pending due dates. Work items should be tailored to a CSR's specific task, include customer data and phone numbers to initiate a call with a single click, and have that call, as part of the customer case recorded. Escalations and exception reporting to managers should also be part of the solution to ensure that the process remains intact through completion.
A common complaint that insurance providers have is that their processes seem to disappear into a "black hole" where supervisors and managers have little or no visibility into what is happening at any stage of the process. Any technology solution should provide the same granular level of visibility for process work as it does for contact centre communication interactions. This visibility should help judge important metrics such as: How long is the average handle time for a given work item? How many work items does a CSR or workgroup have pending? What is the status of a policy application, claim, etc.? Who was the last to handle the work item? Supervisors, managers and authorized CSRs should also have the ability to reassign work or transfer a call with the same simplicity as forwarding an email.
Along with clear strategic objectives and goals from management, technology can enable increased productivity both, for communications interactions and for document-centric processes. Solutions that leverage the power of proven contact centre technologies such as skills-based routing, rule-based prioritization, and user presence can speed the right kind of work to the right person when they are available. This kind of automation removes the subjective element and reduces human latency.
With multiple legacy and other core business systems, the idea of another application seems counter-intuitive, unless that application can serve as a process orchestration layer. That layer would present information from multiple systems in "custom" role-based interfaces that the insurance organization defines and configures. Modern technology solutions should easily bring together information from multiple systems into a single work item, or enable a user to access a third-party system directly, while tracking task and process time. Ideally, users should receive work in a familiar way, only having to deal with the work that relates to their role or task, and move on to the next bit of work.
For insurance providers to effectively deal with the wide variety of participants in their business processes - end consumer segments, CSRs, brokers, and other third parties- they should consider a technology solution that could address the unique needs of each. At the same time, they should look for opportunities to consolidate support. Multi-channel strategy, business process automation and document management are all elements required to ensure that each customer stakeholder can effectively interact with the organization to meet their unique needs.
It is no longer a question of whether policyholders want to communicate via mobile channels. Rather only a question of what the experience is like when they do. For insurance providers to successfully implement a mobile strategy that delivers an exceptional customer experience, they need to be able to rapidly deploy customer service applications on multiple mobile operating systems, devices and social media websites. More importantly, providers need to be able to link the mobile customer directly to the contact centre in the channel of their choice and supply contextual information to the CSR. Any customer-facing business process must be suited for customer interaction on mobile devices.
While technology alone cannot ensure the transformation of insurance providers from policy-oriented to customer-oriented organizations, technology can help to make this customer-oriented vision a reality. There are technology solutions available that can address enterprise, contact centre and policyholder needs from a common platform that can turn the customer experience into a competitive weapon. Regional insurance providers need to leverage these to capitalize on opportunities that might be hiding in plain sight.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2013