Canadian Underwriter

How customer experience became paramount – and how it will further change

November 21, 2019   by Adam Malik

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Perhaps the biggest trend one property claims expert has seen in recent years throughout the insurance industry is the focus on enhancing the customer experience. And using technology is going to be what can help one company differentiate itself from the rest.

No one working in insurance can even contemplate not putting the customer at the centre of everything they do, said Ernest Mashingaidze, who was recently named a CIP Society’s National Leadership Award winner. He was sharing his own personal views, which do not necessarily reflect the views of Wawanesa.

“When it comes to the business of insurance, it’s based on the idea that we’re keeping a promise,” he said. “The promise basically is: In exchange for this for this premium paid, we’re going to put you back in the same financial position you were in before the loss, of course, subject to the conditions of the policy.”

This has become such a strong focus in recent times because a customer’s voice is more powerful than ever before. While brokers and carriers use social media to connect with clients and draw in potential ones, that’s also where customers can also let them know where their failures are.

“With so much focus on the customer and what the customer says through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and things like that, the customer is being given a voice. And rightly so,” Mashingaidze said. “This voice allows the customer to either sing our praises or to air their frustrations. This is why you find most insurance companies now focusing on the net promoter score to gauge whether they have more detractors or more promoters for their business.”

Customer loyalty is also being tested thanks to these tools. Current or potential clients can see what the public thinks of any insurer. If they like what they’re reading about a competitor more than their current company, there’s a good chance they’ll leave. “The idea of customers leaving is no longer an impossibility,” Mashingaidze said. “It’s something that’s happening more and more.”

He expects behind-the-scenes technology to play a role in enhancing customer excellence. As artificial intelligence advances, payouts for claims can speed up. That reduced cycle time would go a long way in customer relationships.

Mashingaidze gave examples of other industries like transportation, hotels and banking where speed and convenience have been the differentiator. Uber has allowed passengers to travel cheaper and faster than with conventional taxis. Travellers can use Airbnb to find cheaper accommodations and skipping the time-consuming check-in process at hotels. In banking, tapping your debit or credit card reduces time with the grocery store cashier.

“The reason I bring them up is because it’s not only the insurance industry, but every industry, in general, is changing,” he said. “Everybody’s now focused on speed that I think the more we focus on AI and technology to increase the speed of payouts for claims … the better it will be for our industry.”

For those high-frequency, low-severity claims, Mashingaidze sees those ripe for being fast-tracked thanks to AI. “Customers are already expecting speed of service and when somebody has their laptop stolen or their bicycle damaged, that kind of thing, they don’t want to wait a few days for the payouts,” he said. “They want this done in minutes. Advances in AI will actually help us do this.”

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