Channels

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Paul DeVriendt
Paul DeVriendt
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The Multi-Channel, Multi-Device Dilemma

How can insurers provide customers with channel interaction choices without sacrificing service excellence?

Insurers are facing a monumental challenge these days. They need to serve customers their choice of channels, on the device of the customer’s choosing, and they must ensure that service is seamless and consistent in every interaction. Today, many product lines and channels continue to operate in silos, which makes consistency and cross-channel interactions difficult. This problem is compounded by the exponential rate at which channels and devices are growing and evolving.

Insurers are scrambling to support new channels (e.g., mobile, social, chat); deliver exciting tools to agents and customers to engage, inform, and sell more; and provide agents with access to the same, real-time information regardless of when and how they’re serving clients.

[The Mobile Customer of the Future]

Many insurers are tackling this challenge by deploying channel-specific solutions to interact with customers in their channels of choice. On the face of it, this makes sense. These solutions provide some key capabilities insurers need to expand their channel support quickly and easily.

Unfortunately, this multi-channel enablement strategy is a short-term solution at best as it fails to address cross-channel interactions. Customers interact with companies on many channels, depending on the task at hand. The problem is, they often cross channels mid-transaction, and, when they do so, they expect the information they’ve provided to follow them. Even customers who are comfortable shopping for quotes online may seek advice or complete transactions on another channel, such as chat, on the phone, or in person.

To stay competitive and give customers the choice they expect, insurers must focus instead on implementing an integrated, multi-channel solution. In our experience, insurers that pursue a holistic view of the customer across all integrated channels enjoy a significant advantage over firms that deal with channels in a piecemeal fashion. This ability to share customer information is critical in delivering efficient service that recognizes previous interactions, delivers consistent messaging across agents and channels, supports next-best action for cross-sell and upsell, and optimizes the overall customer experience.

In An Integrated Multichannel Strategy Will Be a Key Factor in an Insurer’s Success (March 2014), Gartner analyst Kimberly Harris-Ferrante notes, “It is key not just to offer a variety of channels to enable customer choice, but to seamlessly integrate all channels so that customers can move between channels as needed. This includes starting a transaction on one channel and completing it on another where the data is automatically transferred to the second touchpoint.”

Fortunately, insurers don’t have to throw out their existing channel-specific solutions. In fact, we see insurers experience the most success when they implement a best-of-breed integrated desktop to fulfill a multi-channel strategy. This approach enables insurers to deliver the choices their customers desire by selecting the channel-specific solutions that best meet their needs. The integrated desktop serves as a bridge to share information and drive consistency across all channels. With a unified view across a set of applications provided by a best-of-breed approach, firms can successfully overcome the challenges of providing choice and delivering efficient best-practice service for interactions that cross touchpoints. 

Our customers tell us the ability to better understand clients by sharing knowledge through the integration of data silos, applications, and channels is critical in delivering a unified “one company” experience across the firm. This is particularly true for cross-channel interactions, where agents are fully informed about ongoing transactions and can start up where the previous interaction left off. It also helps insurers analyze how their customers interact with them so they can optimize, implement, and refine resourcing, service, and best-practices to improve resolution times and conversion rates.

Here are five ways an integrated desktop can help insurance carriers:

  • Know customers better by leveraging all customer information sources -- from legacy systems to social networks.
  • Share customer information and make it available to everyone that engages with the customer through integrated desktops and mobile devices.
  • Save time and deliver better service by streamlining best-practices and enabling collaboration at every stage of the customer lifecycle.
  • Sell more by providing the right offer at the right time over the right channel with insight gained into customer needs and intent through customer analytics.
  • Provide a unified customer experience across all channels with a common view of customer information in both agent and contact center desktops.

Ultimately, supporting consumer choice should be a primary concern for insurers. To truly satisfy customers, however, it is critical that insurers deliver seamless service between channels and across devices. A single source of enterprise information enables insurers to share information across the organization and with customers, regardless of the interaction channel. In our experience, this can best be achieved with an integrated desktop where insurers can deliver unified, best-of-breed service to customers through the channels and devices of their choice while adapting nimbly to evolving channel and device options.

[Learn more about the Internet of Things at Interop's Internet of Things Summit on Monday, September 29.]

As Senior Vice President of Products at NexJ Systems, Paul DeVriendt leads the product management and product marketing teams. Previously, DeVriendt served as Vice President of Product Management at Janna Systems, responsible for the product design of the industry-leading CRM ... View Full Bio

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nexjcontact1
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nexjcontact1,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2014 | 9:28:08 AM
Re: integrated desktop
Thank you for your question, Nathan. In NexJ's view, an Integrated Desktop puts the customer at the center of all interactions. It integrates insurance applications (e.g. policies, claims, and billing) with channel systems (e.g. IVR) and CRM functionality into a single, seamless application that can leverage enterprise customer data (e.g. interaction history and service requests) to deliver a comprehensive customer view. The integrated desktop is used by customer-facing personnel such as contact center representatives and insurance agents. It supports all integrated channels, including social media, mobile, telephone, chat, etc. Each user has access to the same unified view of this information tailored to their specific role in the organization to help improve the customer experience and deepen customer engagement with the firm. And don't let the term 'desktop' mislead you – the integrated desktop can be viewed on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
9/18/2014 | 4:37:42 PM
integrated desktop
Thanks Paul. Can you expand a bit on what you mean by integrated desktop? Are you talking about something on the back end for business users or some sort of customer portal? Both are key to creating a seamless multichannel experience.
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