Leveraging automation can be a double-edged sword. As customers look for simpler claims processes and access to information, it can be easy to put tools into place that make customers feel left out of the loop, unheard, and wary of the process. To make automated claims work at optimal levels, companies need to embrace the technology early, and actively work to deliver maximum value to the customers. The first insurers to make it through the gap will win the day.
When customers make claims, they are generally under great stress, uncertain of the outcome, and sometimes in the midst of the most trying times of their lives. The job of insurance providers and agents should be to deliver service that customers want, service that is informative, reassuring, and that has the human touch. With automation, we can reach more people, deliver more information and service faster - but how do we do that without sacrificing that all-important human element: empathy?
During a webinar discussing how insurance carriers can ‘Deliver Empathy at Scale’, Bill Brower (Vice President – Auto Claims, LexisNexis Risk Solutions), Mike Fiato (Chief Claims Officer, Liberty Mutual), Lori Pon (Director of Claims Transformation and Claim Service Center, Auto Club Group), Samantha Santiago (Head of Claims Strategy and Automation, Farmers Insurance) and moderator Alan Demers (Founder-President, InsurTech Consulting) shared their insights into the possibilities for the claims ecosystem.
Alan Demers opens the discussion saying, “I was excited because of the importance of where we’re headed as an industry, through automation and self-service, and then trying to find a balance [...] from a human standpoint into the value of empathy itself.”
The idea of scaling empathy is more ambitious than it might seem. Anyone with experience growing a business may already know why. The fact is that some services scale well, and others do not. Generally, uniquely human qualities - things that are not generally manufactured - do not scale well. Reproducible goods scale incredibly well. That’s why a Hollywood blockbuster film is worth spending hundreds of millions to make. The owners of the final product can make copies with considerable ease. The same goes for novels, trinkets, and goods of all kinds.
But, how do we scale empathy?
Consider the fields of nursing, home care, or childcare. These are tasks that require an individual human. They cannot be duplicated without creating a new human to perform them. So, scaling empathy seems impossible, right? Well, modern information technology may have something to say about that.
Demers makes a very important point – how do we define empathy? The dictionary definition is “the ability to understand the feelings of another”. But when put into the context of claims-handling it “may be described as anticipating needs and delivering on them”.
Any time a claims agent deals with a client making a claim, they are dealing with someone experiencing a personal loss. It could be a profound loss, or it could be relatively minor, but it is always significant. Hence the value of empathy.
At that, Bill Brower touches on the topic of the “touchless claim” in delivering empathy.