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4 Call Center Imperatives for Insurers

Customer expectations for a consistent, interactive and real-time experience across all channels, including the call center, are rising. What must insurers do to meet these expectations?
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Insurance call centers have evolved into true customer contact centers, functioning not only to provide information and resolve problems but also to support sales and marketing activities. In today’s multi-channel service environment, the call center remains a critical channel, along with mobile and online, for insurer and client interactions. But customer expectations for a consistent, interactive and real-time experience across all channels, including the call center, also are rising. What technologies are improving the reach and effectiveness of insurers’ contact centers? How do concerns over privacy and security impact insurers’ contact center strategies? What contact center functions can be outsourced, and which should be kept in-house? With more business being transacted on the mobile platform, what will be the role of the future insurance call center?

Keep It Simple, Secure, Consistent & Integrated

We’ve moved far beyond the old call center model. Today, we leverage our websites, mobile capabilities and social media to create a multi-channel experience. Customized emails as a followup to phone calls, mobile text messaging from our CSRs, customer service via Twitter and our virtual assistant, Ask Ann, are all examples of how we interacting with our members today.

Beyond any particular technology, Aetna is known for its ability to marry technology, data analytics and experience to provide a consultative healthcare experience. Our Aetna Concierge staff proactively works with our members to help them maximize their benefits, engaging them in health programs early and before a health risk becomes a chronic condition, and ensures they find the right contact or service for their wellness needs. This consultative, proactive approach allows us to help improve member health and contributes to increased productivity for the employers providing Aetna’s products to their employees.

We’re very conscientious about verifying identity before sharing any personal information. We also do a lot of due diligence before implementing any technology solutions in the contact center and give extra scrutiny in terms of technology vendor selection. Close partnership between our security and IT architecture group keeps us up-to-date on emerging threats, the latest security technology advancements, and best ways to improve our customer experience without sacrificing security and privacy.

We maintain the core functions and critical applications, following our ultimate business goals to simplify healthcare and provide the top service levels for our customers. We contracted with a top technology vendor to create our virtual assistant, Ask Ann, on our website to help customers with straightforward inquiries, such as registering for our website. Ann can also let them know when their inquiries may be better suited for a phone call, such as preparing for a nonstandard surgical procedure. It’s not about outsourcing or a particular channel. It’s about the right channel for the customer based on their need.

Mobile technology will ultimately impact and change the role of all the other contact channels; it will empower both the customer and the customer service staff. In some scenarios, it may replace other channels in terms of tasks, like paying your premium with your smartphone app rather than calling or going on your PC, or taking a picture of a claim and uploading it rather than faxing it. It also may simply complement a customer’s experience with other channels, such as a CSR having the ability to send an image of a member’s ID card while on a call with them. The challenge will be to keep it simple as more technology is available, to integrate at the right times and places with the available capabilities, and ensure consistency with all the other channels as the mobile channel continues to evolve and advance daily.

— Rich Leonard, CTO, Aetna (pictured at right)

Peggy Bresnick Kendler has been a writer for 30 years. She has worked as an editor, publicist and school district technology coordinator. During the past decade, Bresnick Kendler has worked for UBM TechWeb on special financialservices technology-centered ... View Full Bio

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