This article is a follow up to a prior article titled The Most Important Metric in Claims. Unlike the prior article focusing in on the definition of the most important metric in claims, this one outlines 5 ways that an organization can do to effectively improve this metric.
The claim process consists of several steps, with each one of them having the potential in being a culprit that impacts customer’s satisfaction. Being able to integrate a light-weight process to the claims resolution and ensuring its execution is what will guarantee a pleasant customer experience and earn customer’s loyalty to retain the policyholder's account.
1. Simplify Claim Reporting
Claims are typically reported over the phone. While some souls do chose to report small impact claims using web forms, emails, or mobile apps, there are often way too many questions not only for the policyholder but also for the claims manager to effectively take the claim reporting offline. Besides, even after the web or mobile form is completed after first notice of loss, insurance organizations will reach the policyholder back over the phone to gather more information and clarify the details.
This step in the claims reporting process can be improved by clearly educating the policyholder on the alternative ways to report the loss. Where to call and how to submit the information are necessary at the least. Providing additional instructions on what common information on the loss needs to be captured often improves customer's experience as well.
Having to staff the hotlines for claim reporting and being able to elastically allocate more resources for major weather or catastrophe events will ensure that the customers get the right level of attention and support for the moment they have been paying for to date.
2. Expedite Evidence Collection and Assessment
The next element is being able to collect information on the claim and any evidence to represent it. The first incident report is generally taken in verbally during the initial call, however the next steps greatly depend on the carriers.
Some carriers utilize mobile apps with pictures as an attempt to expedite claim triage, others schedule and dispatch adjusters or provide addresses for auto adjustment stations for drive by appointments. These procedures are not standardized and depend largely on logistics and availability of resources. Since resources are scarce and limited, this often presents one of the biggest culprits in delaying claim update in order to expedite its resolution.
The claim cannot be processed without pictures or evidence and often awaits without further progress. Typically, it is caused by the fact that the details of the damages are collected and assessed by the same adjuster, who is often handling large quantities of claims at the same time. Lastly, the customer is forced to coordinate a schedule with an adjuster on adjuster's schedule in order to proceed to the next steps, which is frustrating for many clients.
To shorten the delays, some carriers are investing their time and efforts in integrating mobile damage assessment solutions into the business process to allow customers to show the problem remotely. While great strides have been made in mobile real-time communications and remote damage assessment apps to help customers help themselves, this technology is just beginning to hit the mainstream. Until it becomes widely available, handling large, significant claims with displaced policyholders and severe incidents still continue to cause delays that force the customers to seek their own solutions for living and transportation accommodation until the carriers are able to get a better insight into the claim and authorize the assistance. The delays in this example, make the claims processes extremely frustrating, significantly straining customer’s satisfaction and causing grounds for customer attrition.
3. Claim Status Updates
Claims involve many steps, but there is only one step that customer cares about the most – the settlement. Customers that are aware of the status of their claim and are kept informed on the claim resolution process and the next steps are usually a lot happier than customers who are kept in the dark waiting.
Most of the time, this step is as easy to achieve as sending out email updates and an occasional phone call. Personal touch is important in this step to let the customer know that they are not forgotten. This goes a long way to ensure customer’s satisfaction. Yet, it is even more vital if there are complications and delays.
4. Timely Payment
Once a settlement is reached, it proceeds with the payment. Surprisingly, some organizations still handle payments using snail mail. While not all customers object to mailed payments, most would agree that it is far more convenient to get the settlement directly deposited into a bank account. At the very least, there should be options available to the customers for how they would like the payment to be delivered in the most suitable way.
5. Follow Up
Lastly, the next most important step occurs after the settlement is reached and the payment is received. This step is simply following up. Way too often the communication between the policyholder and the insurance company stops as soon as the claim is marked as “closed”.
Although the claim resolution may not be ideal and could very well be frustrating for the customer, following up allows the customers to offer direct feedback from their point of view and provide input into the areas of the claims resolution process that need to be improved. It is the most crucial step in the whole process, as it also delivers the last opportunity to address any experienced frustrations, even if all that can be done is acknowledging the delays or other relevant difficulties. Often, all the customers simply want is for the companies to acknowledge their deficiencies and consider rectifying steps that went wrong.
This item is also important due to certain prominent and widely recognized customer service statistics:
- 1/5 of the customers never complain about the issues they have experienced and simply leave.
- Customers whose complaints are resolved are about 1/3 more loyal than customers that do not complain.
- It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer rather than to keep a current one.
Follow up is the perfect opportunity to engage the customer one more time to offer an opportunity to voice their feedback not only in order to save a customer, but also to ensure documenting and addressing the changes necessary to retain more customers with identical issues.