Canadian Underwriter

In a virtual world, don’t lose your humanity: insurer exec

June 1, 2021   by Adam Malik

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As the world gets more and more virtual, don’t forget how to be human, an insurer executive urged during a recent webinar.

Technology should be used to enhance the industry’s relationship with clients, rather than act as a replacement, explained Erin Fischer, senior vice president, chief claims and regional insurance operations officer at Wawanesa.

Much of the business world, including the property and casualty insurance industry, has shifted to a work-from-home model. This format will likely continue in some form even after the pandemic is in our rearview. But, Fischer observed, that doesn’t mean insurance professionals can take a lax approach in dealing with clients or let technology do all the work.

Every interaction you have with a client still matters, she said during Insurance Institute of Canada’s latest At the Forefront series, entitled Exceptional Customer Experiences in a Virtual World.

“It means we have to be thoughtful about how we interact, both in person and now in this virtual world. When I say this, I mean that we need to leverage technology deliberately, to enhance and not replace the interaction,” she said. “Details are everything. Words matter. Tone matters and how you respond matters.”

Though fewer interactions are happening in person or on the phone, oftentimes your clients are looking for that human connection. That’s why, for example, it’s important to engage with clients with continuous empathy and compassion if they contacting you, for example, to report a claim.

“It’s why so many of us, when faced with troubling circumstances, reach out for human-to-human interaction,” Fischer said. “Human-to-human interaction will always be one of the most important aspects, certainly in claims handling, because the customer walks away feeling and we’ve created this connection, and the power of human connection cannot be understated.”

To use her company as an example, Fischer said Wawanesa’s goal is to use technology and automation in a way that enhances the customer’s experience — but not to replace the human connection clients crave. “And to me, this is key in providing an exceptional experience for all customers no matter what part of the insurance industry you work in,” she said.

She expanded on that by highlighting areas where automation can help, such as in claims to speed up the process and make it more transparent. That can lead to higher levels of trust with the client. But clients won’t be forced to go onto a self-serve path.

“We’ll facilitate streamlined processes across the life of the claim,” Fischer explained. “But we won’t sacrifice the key touchpoints where customers want a human interaction.”

To say you’re “going digital” is a trendy phrase but there are levels to doing so. Some companies may want everything to be done in a digital format. But in a time where so much is moving online, “I think the new innovation is talking to your customer,” she said.

It’s important for insurance professionals to create connections with their clients to understand their needs and provide the right advice.

“And when it comes to how we help them with the claims process, whether that’s an in-person claims experience — and in today’s environment, a little bit more difficult to do; it depends on when and how we can safely do that — or whether it’s a phone or online experience, our goal’s to be there for our policyholders and their community and our community and your community,” she added.


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