May 22, 2014

It seems like everyone is talking about improving the customer experience. And many insurers are backing up the talk by investing in major initiatives to become more customer-centric and rethinking how they interact with policyholders and producers. In the meantime, most insurers have established solutions in place for enterprise content management (ECM) and customer communications management (CCM). It seems obvious that there should be some intersection of these technologies with the customer experience, but what is the nature of that relationship and what is really happening in these areas?

Recent SMA research confirms that insurers are still investing in ECM and CCM and plan to gradually increase spending over the next few years. Most would not consider these "hot" areas like analytics or mobile, but closer inspection reveals that there are strategic and focused investments underway for a range of projects that are enabled by solutions in these areas. Some observations about what's really happening here might shed some light and perhaps provide some new ideas for those working on customer experience strategies.

Mark Breading, SMA
Mark Breading, SMA

Customers' experiences are influenced by many factors, including the fit of the insurance product to their needs, the premium, and their perception of the insurer's brand. Increasingly though, the transactions and interactions that shape customers' impressions are being conducted digitally. With this in mind, the capture, creation, management, and delivery of digital content becomes an essential ingredient for success – and the ECM and CCM solutions often handle this digital content.

[Previously from Breading: What Omnichannel Really Means in Insurance]

This places some insurers at a crossroads regarding these solutions. Most have implemented one or more software solutions for ECM and one or more for CCM. Those that have modern solutions or have recently upgraded their solutions will be faced with decisions on how to fully capitalize on their systems to support customer experience initiatives. Those with legacy ECM or CCM solutions may find that they need to replace their old systems or go through extensive upgrade/modernization efforts to position for the new age of the customer experience. ECM solutions primarily manage inbound documents and workflows (capture, storage, routing of digital content), while CCM solutions fundamentally focus on the outbound side (creating digital content and managing delivery of the documents, correspondence, or other communications). Although these solutions focus on different areas, a set of common questions can be asked to determine if the current implementation will provide the functionality and extensibility required to help improve customer experiences.

1. Personalization: Can customer documents easily be personalized and customized? Is there the ability to define roles and authorization levels for employees and agents using the solutions to create and manage forms, documents, and customer communications?

2. Configurability: Is the system flexible, SOA based, and menu driven? Are business users able to use the tool and manage forms without extensive training and dependency on IT?

3. Integration: Are there predefined integration linkages established to modern core systems, CRM solutions, MS SharePoint, and other solutions such e-signature and e-billing?

4. Technology currency: Are the technologies current and does the solution easily support mobile capabilities? Is it offered with SaaS/cloud-based options? Does it allow for easy data exchange and embedded analytics that provide real-time insights?

These questions are just the beginning of an assessment, but they start to raise important issues in the evaluation regarding the suitability of existing systems to adapt and contribute to the new age of the customer experience.

About the author: Mark Breading, SMA partner, is a recognized expert in advanced technologies and their implications for the insurance industry. He has exceptional knowledge of data and analytics, customer communications in insurance, enterprise content management, and advanced technologies including mobile communications. Follow him at @BreadingSMA on Twitter.