How digital data intake minimizes rejections and callbacks in a call center
Imagine you are a customer service agent. A potential customer contacts you, looking to buy a new car. They tell you that they have purchased travel insurance from your company in the past. Unfortunately, travel insurance is handled by a different department and you can’t access any of the customer’s information on your dashboard.
In order to provide an accurate quote, you start by asking the customer for basic information, like their age and address. You can hear the impatience in the customer’s voice. “Don’t you have that information already?” they ask. Meanwhile, new calls are coming into the system. While you’re taking down the customer’s basic information, other potential customers are getting frustrated or simply hanging up and turning to another provider.
Data intake is critical to customer service
The hypothetical situation described above is more common than we like to admit. Customer service agents in many insurance companies spend much of their precious time collecting data instead of delivering real value to the company. And that’s a problem for the company and customers alike.
It’s not that data isn’t important—it’s actually critical to success in the insurance industry. Customers expect agents to solve their pressing problems as quickly as possible, and the more information the agent has about their customers, the better they are able to offer them relevant solutions and products. Looking back at the auto insurance example, if the agent already knows the customer’s age, address, and other pertinent information, the faster he or she will be able to deliver an accurate quote.
Data collection is important for more than personalization and speed. When customers interact with a brand, they don’t see the individual interaction as a stand-alone event—they generally see it within the context of the bigger picture of their relationship with that brand. They expect the company to “know them” and understand their needs, no matter how they choose to communicate or what product they are interested in. In order to create that sense of familiarity, every staff member that interacts with customers has to have easy access to their data.
Organizations, on the other hand, see products, departments, and even communication channels as separate and distinct. Data is often siloed, and one department or channel does not have access to customer data collected by another. That often leads to customer frustration, as the customer can’t understand why he or she needs to repeat information that has already been provided, and can negatively impact the customers’ perception of the insurance provider’s brand.
Insurance customer service requires documents and signatures for many core business processes
Despite the importance of data collection and documentation, it isn’t always easy to do, especially in the insurance industry. The insurance industry is complex, and processes like underwriting and claims evaluation require extensive documentation both for core business processes and to meet legal and compliance requirements. And it’s not only providing documentation—customers also need to sign numerous waivers and permissions that contain copious amounts of the dreaded fine print.
Supplying the required documentation can feel overwhelming to customers. If they don’t understand what they are signing and don’t have the time or professional knowledge to read and understand the fine print, they may be hesitant to sign a document.
In addition, many insurance companies still require their customers to print, sign, and scan PDF forms and then email the document back to the company. This process is extremely inconvenient for customers who are on the go and conducting business on their phones. Not only that, printing forms and signing them physically can seem archaic to many young customers who are used to simple, streamlined digital interaction. Fillable PDFs seem better since they can be completed digitally, but they don’t offer a user friendly experience, especially on mobile devices.
Last but not least, there is no way to verify the data in paper or PDF forms in real time. If the customer doesn’t understand what needs to be entered into a given field, or simply makes a mistake, the form can’t be processed and will be rejected at a later stage in the process. For example, many times a signature is missing, but since PDFs don’t offer any form of validation, the customer has no way to know that something is missing. Instead, customer service agents are forced to spend more of their valuable time tracking down the customers and getting them to correct their forms, add signatures and resubmit them.
Digital data collection can improve customer satisfaction and reduce rejections and callbacks
Service agents are an inherently limited resource. Human resources are always costly—no insurance company can afford an unlimited number of agents. Agents need to be trained, supervised, and there is always turnover, not to mention sick days and days off. Therefore, like any limited resource, it’s important to use your service agents wisely and efficiently and give them the tools they need to provide a great customer experience.
First and foremost, that means using agents where they add the most value, not in processes like data intake that can be easily automated. Service agents definitely shouldn’t be tasked with basic data collection or asking repetitive questions—it simply isn’t a good use of their time. Not only can these tasks be automated, but automation and digitization of customer data intake improves the process for both the customer and the agent.
Let's look at some of the key benefits of digital data collection.
Benefits of digital data collection
Digital data intake minimizes errors in forms and documents because data can be verified in real time. When customers try to submit a form with an error, they receive immediate feedback on how to correct the error, and cannot submit the form until they have entered the data correctly. Furthermore, features like autofill and prompts help to avoid errors altogether.
Save time and money
Fewer errors mean fewer delays. It can take days or even weeks for an agent to review a form and uncover an error, delays that are eliminated entirely with digital data intake. Furthermore, there is no need to invest costly staff time in reviewing forms, or tracking down customers so they can correct errors on rejected forms.
Provide a better customer experience
Eliminating delays and repetitive forms makes for an improved, more streamlined customer experience. And in a climate where customers often choose their insurance provider according to the level of service they provide, it’s more important than ever for insurance providers to focus on customer experience. In fact, in one survey, 48% of respondents said that a specific incident of poor service motivated them to change providers.
Personalize service and offerings
Every potential customer has different needs. When digital data intake is done right, agents have access to robust data and can immediately offer customers the most relevant product or service for their unique situation, and help them solve problems quickly and effectively.
Leverage agent time for maximum value
When agents aren’t busy collecting data, they can utilize their time in activities that solve customer problems, boost sales, and drive real business value for the provider. Agent time is never cheap and should always be used wisely.
Reduce rejections and callbacks
Speed is critical to boosting customer satisfaction. According to a report by Freshworks, speed is the most influential factor in customer satisfaction. With digital data intake, errors on forms can be reduced significantly through data verification. That in turn reduces form rejections and the need for callbacks that lead to the delays that are so harmful to the customer experience.
Digital data collection is key
When service agents access and use customer data effectively, their value grows exponentially. Transitioning to digital data collection helps to reduce the number of forms that are rejected due to errors. That means fewer agents are needed for form rejections, and the agents that are available can focus on creating business value for the company. And that’s a win for everyone.