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Streamlining FNOL processes in the call center with digital customer data intake

Streamlining FNOL processes in the call center with digital customer data intake | EasySend blog
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5 minutes

A first notice of loss report (FNOL) kicks off the claims cycle, making it a very important step in the insurance customer journey. However, FNOL processes are often the main source of inefficiencies in claims operations and one of the biggest call drivers for insurance companies. In fact, the initial FNOL call takes an average of 6-7 minutes, and repeat calls are often needed to collect additional info or check the claim status. This quickly adds up to make claims the most expensive process to handle via a call center.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

[.emph]Digital customer data intake can play a major role in improving KPIs related to the FNOL process, both reducing the cost per claim and boosting CSAT scores.[.emph]

The challenges faced when taking customer information over the phone

Despite the focus on digitization in the insurance industry, 85-95% of claims still go through a call center. When FNOLs are made over the phone, the customer describes what happened to an agent, and the agent then enters the information into a claims system such as Guidewire or Duck Creek to initiate the claim filing process. Although it’s only the first stage of a long process, an FNOL isn’t simple because it includes many different types of data in different formats—things like the time of the theft, loss, or damage, the police report (if relevant), as well as an eye-witness description of how it occurred. 

[.figure]up to 95%[.figure]

[.emph]of all claims are processed in the call centers[.emph]

The phone-based FNOL process relies on manpower to process all of that information, which is a problem because it is very expensive. A single call costs $6-8, and with repeat calls, costs add up and utilize a significant portion of the operations budget.  

Call-based FNOLs can also take a toll on CSAT metrics. When a customer calls to make an FNOL, something of value to them has just been lost, stolen, or damaged. That means that more likely than not, they are upset or agitated. When people are in an agitated state, their patience is already worn thin, and the last thing they want to do is wait for an agent to become available, or for that agent to tediously enter data into the system. 

Some companies have moved from agents to web forms, but even that doesn’t solve the problem entirely. Although they are an improvement over manual data intake, most FNOL web forms are long and complex—basically paper forms in a digital format. When customers are in the midst of dealing with loss or theft, they simply don’t have the patience for that type of friction and are more likely than not to give up before completing the form. They then call the company and are back to square one—data entry with an agent, with all of the challenges detailed above.  

How digital data intake can help to streamline the FNOL process

Digital data intake begins when the customer purchases the policy, and provides their basic information. If the basic information is already in the system, the entire FNOL process is more efficient—all that needs to be added is the information related to the specific incident. That can be done easily online, in the same platform used for the initial intake. If customers don’t have all of the information when filling out the initial report or forget an important detail, it’s not a problem. They can easily log back on and add the missing documentation and information whenever they receive it—no need to utilize costly agent resources with repeat calls. Even if a customer does turn to a call center at some point in the process, the call handling time is usually minimal. 

Digital data intake also makes the FNOL process much easier for the customer, boosting CSAT metrics. First of all, there is no need to wait for an agent—customers can start the process whenever it’s convenient for them, at any time day or night. Second, there is no need to wait online while an agent enters basic information. Much of that information was provided during the initial intake, when the customer purchased the policy, and should appear in the FNOL form automatically as soon as the customer self-identifies. 

The benefits of using digital customer data intake in the call center

Accelerate the claims process and hit KPIs

When a company digitizes the customer intake process, the customer’s information is easily accessible to agents, making it easier to meet call center KPIs like call handling time. Even if a customer chooses to call in an FNOL, the agent who receives the call will immediately be able to see all of the information that the customer provided during the initial intake, eliminating the need for repetitive data entry. The agent can easily add the info specific to the FNOL, and pass the case on for assessment, accelerating the entire claims process. 

Save agent time and lower cost per claim

Customers aren’t the only ones who waste time online with an agent—valuable agent time is wasted as well. Agents are a precious, limited resource for insurance providers, and should always be used in activities where they have the most business value. Data entry simply isn’t one of them. Transitioning to digital data intake saves agent time and can significantly lower the cost per claim. 

Reduce errors and improve data integrity 

When an agent is taking down information, mistakes are bound to happen. In fact, 60% of manually completed FNOL forms have errors. For example, a customer might misunderstand a question and supply the wrong information, the agent might not hear the customer correctly, or a scanned form may be illegible. And like in any manual data entry process, typos and field errors are always a risk. When a form is submitted with errors, the entire claims process is delayed as agents track the customers down and try to get them to correct the forms. 

With digital data entry, data is validated in real time. If customers enter incorrect information, they get an error message right away, as well as helpful suggestions on how to correct the error. When data is validated at the entry point, there is no chance that they will experience the frustration of filling out an entire form only to have it returned. 

Streamlining first noice of loss with a digital data intake journey | EasySend blog

Tips for implementing digital customer data intake in your organization

Deflect to self-service journeys

Initiate your digital journey from the call center, using call deflection to transition the initial FNOL from expensive, labor-intensive calls to self-service digital intake. You can even create multi-person journeys, where all parties involved can provide information directly—for example, the doctor can upload an injury report in the digital data intake platform. All data created in the self-serve intake can be routed directly to claims processing systems such as Guidewire, reducing the need for followup calls and boosting efficiency.

Make it personal

Companies often make the mistake of thinking that digitization is the opposite of personalization, but nothing could be further from the truth. Digitization actually allows you to create a curated process for each and every customer, streamlining screens and data so that each customer sees only what he or she needs, nothing more, nothing less.  This improves CSAT metrics alongside efficiency. 

Be transparent

Customers today expect transparency from service providers, and the insurance industry is no exception. Build a digital intake process that allows customers to understand the process, where they are now, and what they can expect in the next steps. 

Report on the go

Chances are that many of your customers will be conducting activities, including submitting FNOLs, on their phones. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your digital data intake and FNOL processes are mobile-friendly and easy to conduct on a phone or other mobile device, so customers can conduct them while on the go. 

The future of FNOL processes will be impacted by digital customer data intake

When customers experience a loss or damage to their property, they want to notify their insurance carriers at their own convenience, even when they’re on the go. That’s why, like other processes in insurance, the trend in FNOL is towards personalization, digitization, and mobility. With digital customer intake, insurance providers can create an FNOL process that’s customized, painless, and seamless for their customers, while saving valuable internal resources like agent time. 

Gitit Greenberg
Gitit Greenberg

Gitit Greenberg is VP Marketing at EasySend. Gitit is a marketing leader with a demonstrated history of working in the internet industry. Skilled in B2B marketing, analytical skills, market research, management, teamwork, messaging, and startups, Gitit is responsible for EasySend's branding and messaging.