We have all heard the mantra by now. If your team isn’t embracing technology and eating innovation for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you are at risk of being left behind. COVID-19 has shone a bright light on the importance of being proactive, getting ahead of the competition with your products and turning those ideas into practical, tangible products that customers see and touch.

What Does Innovation Mean to You?

These are all noble endeavors and undoubtedly ought to be part of your company strategy for 2021, but what does digital transformation really mean to you? When technology vendors and startups are pushing the latest and greatest stack of cloud tech with a laundry list of capabilities at your fingertips, how do you really make sense of it all? Blockchain, AI, Machine Learning, Big Data, RPA, Intelligent Automation, IOT, the list goes on. The integration of these technologies is complex. Aligning them to your company mission and your customer needs is even more difficult.

Technology and The Why

As somebody who advises and works with a lot of startups across the insurance industry, I see a lot of incredible tech. The first thing I look for, however, is what problem are they trying to solve and how is technology being used to solve it? Some of the greatest ideas are born on the back of a napkin, with purpose and resolve. Technology isn’t part of the equation at this early stage. On other occasions, there is shiny object syndrome, where cool technology is in the driving seat and the problem being solved is not as apparent.

What Are We Missing?

Something that has become quite clear over the past few months is we are entering a period where all companies, InsurTech and incumbent alike, need to start looking at technology and innovation through a slightly different lens. Emphasis around scale has been the driving force for longer than I can remember. Doing more with less makes sense. Technology undoubtedly creates opportunities for scale that 5 or 10 years ago would have been impossible. So what are we missing?

The challenge is that whilst technology and scale are two incredibly important ingredients of the overall Insurance Experience, how and where they are leveraged within a product’s journey and thinking about the emotional impact is equally, if not more important.

The Emotional Journey

Insurance is an industry that at times can be incredibly technical, process heavy and complex. Product, risk, distribution, regulation, acquisitions, technology debt, all factors that combine to create a landscape that is fraught with complexity and creates enormous challenges around integration. It is also an industry that is steeped in emotion. From the customer point of view, insurance is typically an afterthought until it is needed – a that critical time of need. From the industry point of view, the mental toll can be equally severe, when dealing with customers who have fallen into the under-insurance gap:

i) What the insured is covered for

ii) What the insured thinks they are covered for

iii) What the insured should be covered for.

The discrepancies and noise that is generated between all three results in an insurance experience that is dominated by friction and depending on where the insured is on their journey, an experience that can be incredibly damaging, both for the customer and the insurer.

Where Technology Meets Compassion

That brings us to the claims experience. Perhaps the most emotionally charged part of the entire insurance journey and typically where the under-insurance problem becomes most apparent. Both to the detriment of the carrier (who shoulders the blame for executing the policy fine print) and to the detriment of the customer (who believes they are being cheated by the carrier). It is a lose-lose situation.

Turning Zeros and Ones Into Hearts

Depending on where the customer is on the Insurance journey, how and where technology is leveraged becomes a delicate balancing act. At certain points on the journey, self-service tools that scale are a critical part of delivering an exceptional customer experience. Picking up the phone to make a policy endorsement change is not necessary when the same functionality can be delivered via a chatbot or simple customer portal.

On the other side of the spectrum, an emotionally charged experience requires a more delicate approach. Blending technology and automation with the ability to deliver a customer experience driven by compassion and empathy and typically a human touch. This is where knowing your customer is critically important.. Having a deep level of customer insight, and knowing where they are on their insurance journey creates a far deeper level of engagement.

Equipping your staff and teams with a technology driven platform, like Salesforce Service Cloud, that delivers a 360 view into who the customer is, can help drive a far deeper and more valuable relationship.

“During service moments that are driven by emotion, we need to be thinking less about scaling compassion and more about enabling a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with the customer.” – Christopher Frankland

People, Process, Technology and Data

One of my first product engagements when I joined Care Bridge International as Chief Innovation Officer was to help deliver the vision and final product for Bridge IT – our digital platform that is designed to help foster closer collaboration between our clinician team and the customer.

Smart data and intelligent automation are leveraged in a way that helps our team serve our customers more effectively and meet them at their moment of need.

Our chatbot “Bridget” delivers self-service capabilities that helps to drive a more technology-driven and customer friendly experience when and where it makes the most sense. These are digital processes that leverage technology and smart data to deliver a faster and more efficient insurance experience.

Where a deeper experience is needed, one requiring an emotionally intelligent lens, we leverage our people, process, technology and data to help deliver a customer experience that is driven by compassion and care.

At the heart of it all, turning zeros and ones into hearts and leveraging technology to help deliver a customer experience underlined by compassion is something we as an industry need to focus on in the future. Lots of terrific work is already being done and the proliferation of techniques like design thinking and customer journey mapping is helping drive the narrative that customer first thinking is a must. Aligning that with an insurance experience that leverages technology intelligently, understands when and where to scale and continues to recognize the critical role people play throughout the industry, we truly have a bright future ahead of us.

Please reach out to me at chris@carebridgeinc.com to learn more about some of the ways that Care Bridge International continues to bridge the gap between technology and compassion, with solutions that are focused on elevating the claims experience.