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Why data integration is key to the digital experience in insurance

Why data integration is key to the digital experience in insurance | EasySend blog
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5 minutes

In the world of insurance, data is often siloed in different systems. This can make it difficult to get a complete picture of the customer, which is essential for providing a good digital experience.

Digital experiences are becoming increasingly important in insurance, as customers expect to be able to access their policy information and make claims online. If data is siloed, it can be difficult to provide a seamless experience.

Data integration is therefore key to providing a seamless, consistent customer experience across multiple online and in-person channels. There’s no question that that’s what customers want—studies by McKinsey indicate that the majority of insurance customers prefer a hybrid, multi-access experience that includes a combination of various online channels and interaction with human agents. In fact, multi-access customers are the fastest-growing insurance segment in recent years—in 2019, every second customer was multi-access. So let’s look at why data integration is so important to creating the experience consumers want, the common barriers to successful data integration, and how you can overcome them. 

Fragmented and siloed systems impact the customer journey

Insurance companies are typically large organizations with multiple departments and business lines. In many cases, each department or section uses its own platform and approach, with little visibility between them. Not only can this create duplication of work and other internal inefficiencies, but it can also have a negative impact on the customer experience. 

That’s because insurance processes like underwriting and claims are inherently complex. Multiple forms and copious documentation is often required, which can be a real drain on potential customers. In order to prevent them from becoming frustrated and abandoning the process, insurance providers have to make customer intake as simple and frictionless as possible. Yet when systems are fragmented and siloed, customers are often asked to provide the same information repeatedly—entering things like their name, address, and birthdate multiple times. Since insurance forms are already long, this type of repetitive data entry just makes them longer and more frustrating for the customer. 

In addition, in the many insurance companies who are still using paper or PDF forms, customer data isn’t validated at the point of entry. That means that there is no data integrity, and typos or spelling mistakes are only uncovered through human review. In a heavily regulated industry like insurance, those small mistakes can lead to big problems down the line, or at the very least, to unnecessary errors and delays. For example, if a customer spells his or her name one way on one form, and another way on another form, the system may not realize that both forms relate to the same customer. The staff in one department may ask a customer to fill out the form again, which only increases the customer's frustration. Or customers may submit forms with missing information, only to have the forms returned after a wait. 

Furthermore, in many cases, the in-person reps are not able to access forms that a customer fills out online because they are using a different platform. And when customer service reps don’t have a full view of the customer’s issue, they can’t provide the excellent service that customers expect from agents. 

Digital experience in insurance | EasySend blog

Benefits of data integration across customer journey

Data integration can change that dynamic and enable a seamless, end-to-end customer experience in insurance. Below are some of the ways data integration can improve your customer journey. 

Pre-fill data 

Rather than filling in the same data again and again on every form, with integrated data you can pre-fill every form with all the customer data that is already available in the system—all the customer has to do is fill in any new information needed. Pre-fill alone simplifies the customer intake process and makes it quicker and more convenient for the user. 

Automated data validation

Errors are a given in any manual process. Even when entering basic data like your name and address, mistakes can happen. But with digital customer intake, data can be automatically validated in real time, ensuring that all forms are properly signed and completed. Once it has been validated, the data is in the system, and there is no further risk of error in manual entry. Even better, missing data is brought to the customer’s attention right away, and frustrating back-and-forth communications and subsequent delays are eliminated.

Cross-platform access

When data is digitized and integrated, you can ensure that everyone who needs access to the data has it, no matter where they are or what business unit they work in. In-person agents see data that customers submitted online, and data can easily be shared between departments and business units. 

Challenges in data integration across customer journey

Despite its significant advantages, it isn’t always easy to integrate data. When an insurance provider uses siloed systems for customer intake, fields may be defined differently, or customers may enter their data in different ways in each system. Identifying which entries match can be time-consuming and sap significant resources. 

Legacy systems also pose challenges for integration. In most legacy systems, even the smallest change needs to be hard coded and tested extensively to ensure that it won’t impact other elements of the system. But most insurance companies have limited IT resources. When they can’t keep up with the needs of integration processes, they are often delayed or simply never done at all. 

Tips for improving data integration across customer journey

[.emph]The best way to create full data integration across the customer journey is to digitize customer data intake. That way, data is digital from the get-go, and there is no need for resource-demanding data entry or complex merging. [.emph]

EasySend makes it simple to digitize customer data intake, transforming complex forms and customer data intake processes into interactive, digital experiences. Since it’s a no-code platform, customer-facing employees can be empowered as “citizen developers”, able to  quickly transform their manual customer data intake processes and PDF forms into fully digital processes. By leveraging no-code technology, you can go live with your digital transformation fast and at a fraction of the cost and internal resources.

When data is fully digital from the start it is easy to integrate it into all your company systems. Every department can benefit from data collected by others, and the customer benefits from a seamless, multi-channel, engaging experience. Insurers can unlock the full potential of multi-access customers and control costs by steering customers to the most appropriate channels. For example, simple processes can be conducted in direct, self-service channels and agents and customer service reps can focus their efforts on more complex queries and needs. 

In a competitive market with new customer expectations, data integration isn’t an option—it’s a must. Luckily, new solutions for digital customer intake are making the process easier than ever.

Vera Smirnoff
Vera Smirnoff

Vera Smirnoff is the demand generation manager at EasySend. She covers digital transformation in insurance and banking and the latest trends in InsurTech and digital customer experience.