Why digital intake solutions are the key to successful automation in insurance
There is a lot of talk about automation in the insurance industry. How it will make things more efficient, how it will help improve customer service, and how it can be used to streamline underwriting processes. But in order for automation to truly work for insurers, there is one important piece that must be in place first: digital customer data collection.
Your automation is only as good as the data you collect
Automation relies on data to function. In order for automation to make your processes and workflows more efficient, you need to have accurate and up-to-date data. If your data is inaccurate or outdated, the automation will not work as intended and can actually end up causing more problems than it solves.
In order for automation to work properly, it is important that there is no human interference in the data collection process. The data needs to be collected digitally directly from the customer in a format that can be easily read and processed by the automation system.
The elephant in the room: PDF forms are a very inefficient way to collect data from customers
Despite the talk about digital transformation, many insurers still rely on PDF forms to collect customer data. There are multiple problems with that.
First of all, PDF forms are a pain to fill out digitally even on the desktop, and even worse on mobile. Many customers end up printing out the form, filling it by hand and sending it back, causing issues such as illegible handwriting.
Secondly, PDF forms do not allow for real-time validation of data. This means that if a customer makes a mistake on their form, they will not know about it until after they have submitted the form and it has been processed by a human. This can cause delays in the underwriting process as well as frustration for the customer.
Thirdly, PDF forms are not interactive. They do not allow for a two-way dialogue between the customer and the insurer. This lack of interactivity can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication.
PDFs offer zero insight into customer behavior. Many people will simply abandon the form if it is too long or too complicated, but insurers won't know where or why the form was abandoned.
Even if the customer does manage to fill out the form, there is no guarantee that the data will be accurate. The customer might make a mistake when entering their information, or they might not understand what is being asked and provide inaccurate answers.
This is not only an inefficient process, but it also means that the data collected is often inaccurate or incomplete.
Manual data collection vs a personalized digital journey
If you want to use automation to improve your underwriting processes, for example, you need to be able to collect data about the risks involved in each policy. But what does a data collection process actually look like? Here is a common scenario:
- A customer applies for a policy on the insurer's website
- They are then asked to provide information about themselves, their property, and their coverage needs.
- The customer is directed to the PDF form. They download the form, and fill out a form with their personal information, to the best of their ability. The form is complex and asks a lot of irrelevant questions.
- The customer submits the form, which is then transferred to the customer service department, where an employee manually keys the data insurer's core system
- It then turns out that the customer forgot to sign the form on one of the pages, prompting the customer service representative to reach out to the customer and ask for the missing information.
- After all the required data is collected, this data is then transferred to the underwriter who reviews it and makes a decision about whether or not to offer coverage.
This process is time-consuming, prone to human error, and does not provide a good experience for the customer. If there are any errors in the customer’s information, it could result in the underwriter making the wrong decision about whether or not to offer coverage.
Now let's consider a different scenario, whereby a customer applies for coverage via a fully digital customer journey.
- A customer goes to the website and initiates the process by clicking on a link
- The link directs the customer to a personalized digital journey that dynamically adapts to their inputs
- The customer provides information about themselves, their property, and their coverage needs. The information is validated at the point of entry, ensuring that the data submitted in full, has all supporting documentation and required signatures.
- At every step, customers can initiate a co-browsing session or receive real-time chat support as they are filling in the form.
- Customers can save the process at any point and restart it at a later stage. If they leave their application incomplete, they get a gentle nudge via email or SMS to come back and finish it.
- Once the customer completes and submits the form, the data is transferred directly into the insurer's core system in real-time. No manual keying is required.
- The data is then immediately available to the underwriter who can review it and make a decision coverage without having to wait for a customer service representative to gather missing info or manually input the data.
- This process is much faster, more accurate, and provides a better experience for the customer.
By collecting data digitally and validating it at the point of entry, you can be sure that the information you are getting is accurate and up-to-date. You can also avoid errors that can occur when manually transferring data from one system to another. And even better, by collecting the data digitally you can have full visibility into the customer journey, allowing you to provide a better experience for your customers.
So, if you want to use automation to improve your processes, you need to start by digitizing your data collection process. Scaling automation requires moving away from manual processes and towards digital-first data collection methods such as personalized digital journeys. Only then can you be sure that the data you are collecting is accurate and complete. Doing so will enable you to make better decisions about coverage, improve the customer experience, and drive operational efficiencies.