If you have stayed on top of insurance news or watched recent TV ads, you must remember a new novelty Esurance applied in the claims industry by delivering a new concept of Video Appraisal. Released over 6 months ago, Esurance Video-Appraisal is a feature within Esurance mobile app that allows interacting with customers in real-time over a web conference, similar to that of Skype or Facetime. It enables claims professionals to communicate with the customer and gain a visual of the vehicle damage, accelerating the claims resolution process and leading to a quick release of payments for repairs.
In many industries, being the first to develop and release an innovative solution in the market place is a considerable advantage. While Esurance Video Appraisal is a great concept, it unfortunately has a few notable limitations. The conferencing solution that is utilized for Video Appraisal is simply not ideal for the customers and is also harder to implement from the business process perspective.
InformationWeek article by Alison Diana provides a little more insight. In the article, according to Joe Laurentino, Esurance VP of material damage, “[Video Appraisal] lets consumers schedule video appraisals at convenient times for them; get an appraisal without having to leave their car in the shop; and get a damage estimate and payment right away.”
This means that scheduling is still at the forefront of visual appraisal, which is the first inconvenience for the customer. If time is in fact the most important saving for consumers in utilizing Video Appraisal App, what is the difference between scheduling a remote session with a claims representative versus having a vehicle adjuster drive out to meet the customer, as, for example, Progressive?
Scheduling the appointment still delays the collection of the information during the first notice of loss. In today’s customer centric world, it is important to provide customer service immediately upon the customer inquiry and in this case, it would ideal to allow customer to demonstrate the damage immediately during the first customer-agent interaction. The conferencing technology utilized in Video Appraisal App is one of the reasons why this type of interaction cannot be achieved. Let’s take a few minutes to explain why.
If you have ever used Skype, you are well aware that you can call another person on Skype to communicate over a video conference. The problem is that customers do not call Skype or other video conferencing hubs for insurance organizations. Their explicit instructions for claim reporting include calling an 800 number and navigating the IVR to the claims department. Similarly to calling someone on Skype from a regular landline, it is impossible to deliver a visual stream to the consumer, as both, the landline and the conferencing system are unable to share and exchange the video interaction.
The only alternative is to hang up on the customer and call them back from a conferencing system, or as Esurance have done it, masking the inconvenience through appointment scheduling. With both participants, the customer and the claims representative, communicating over the same conferencing tool, they can finally be able to share and see each other’s visual.
Unfortunately, conferencing woes do not stop there, as there are quite a few technical limitations on mobile devices that interfere with conferencing solutions on some devices. Apple iPhone, for example, will shut down the conferencing solution if the incoming call comes in, as it will need to take control of the microphone away from the conferencing tool with no reliable way for a claims representative to understand if the policyholder is still available and would be able to reconnect. In addition, internet connection quality can be a significant impediment to being able to connect to the customer during a scheduled video-appraisal session again without clearly understanding why the customer is not available.
Business Process Challenges
As with all conferencing solutions being developed in business, there are also implementation challenges pertaining to the business process. For example, conferencing solutions require explicit claim agent teams that can interact with customers using Video Appraisal. These agents require the camera on their end too. Scheduling makes sure that the scheduled customer interaction is conducted by the agent who has the camera set up for video conference. But, imagine the logistics.
Separate customer interactions over different communication systems require their own tracking of customer call resolution metrics, call quality assurance recordings, and many other statistics that are at the forefront of all customer centric organizations. Taking the customer-business interaction into another system requires a duplicate of the collection and management of the crucial customer service performance data. It also forces creating a way to combine the data from several communication channels for uniform reporting.
Taking the Concept to the Next Level
Though a great step forward in applying modern technology in claims, there are still many challenges to overcome to perfect and mature the technology and its business application.
Most companies make a mistake of looking at the technology and then attempting to apply it for a business case without clearly identifying an ideal, precise set of capabilities that would enable success. Thus, instead of analyzing technology any further, let’s take a few moments to brainstorm an ideal real-time video solution in claims – its purpose, application, and features.
Most would agree that this application ideally should:
- Be simple to use for the customer and be light-weight and intuitive for the business process.
- Allow claims agents to receive real-time visual during the first notice of loss or any subsequent interaction without disconnecting from the customer on the phone.
- Interact through the same system for uniform tracking and measurement of customer service and/or contact center metrics.
- Enable uniform claims handling process for all claims professionals, rather than orchestrating specialized Visual Appraisal claim handling teams or departments.
- Be a good fit and have an identical application for all lines of business – Auto, Home, Workers Comp, etc.
- Provide “offline” video claims reporting from the customer without having to speak with the claims manager.
Taking these items into the consideration when planning to improve the claims management process and designing an optimal solution for real-time video appraisal, remote damage assessment, or any remote customer assistance in claims is the ultimate key to success.
The best news, there already are solutions that cover all the points above. And they are within the grasp for every modern insurance organization.
Livegenic is an expert of real-time, mobile visual communication technology in the area of customer interaction, customer service, and customer support.
Learn more how Livegenic's patented mobile solutions are evolving the modern world by improving the quality of human-to-human interaction with real-time visual guidance. Contact us.