In A Document Heavy Industry, Insurers Can Benefit Hugely From Paperless Insurance
Paperless insurance was already a hot topic before the 2020 pandemic changed everything. Then, as a result of social distancing and restrictions placed on face-to-face interactions, digital engagement became a matter of business survival. Insurers raced to introduce more digital options to ensure business continuity in a new, contactless environment.
The same set of circumstances propelled consumers to sign up willingly to digital processes as a means to continue managing their personal affairs. In a matter of weeks, digital transformation leapfrogged years ahead of plans, motivated by necessity for consumers and survival for businesses.
What is paperless insurance?
Paperless insurance refers to the ability to begin and complete an insurance-related process in a fully digital manner. To achieve this, insurance companies must operate without generating or storing hard copies of forms, information or documentation. Rather, the insurance company must provide digital access to the processes, information and documents required by the customer.
The term ‘paperless insurance’ can be applied to several areas within an insurance organization: including back-office functions such as risk management, customer-facing functions such as claim submissions, and customer experience requirements, such as customer communications management. All are equally important in the quest for paperless insurance, although some are simpler to achieve than others.
The shift to paperless customer communication management in insurance offers quick wins
In our world, achieving paperless insurance means the digitization of all communication. This involves providing paperless communication options across all customer journeys, including on-boarding, servicing and upselling. Each customer journey has several communication touchpoints which need to be digitized: from welcome messages (onboarding), to forms submissions & claims notifications (servicing) and all the way to policy renewals (retention and upsell).
Providing the customer with paperless options for all communication in one big bang approach is not realistic for most insurance companies. A better approach is to understand what is in place for each customer journey and then break up the deliverables into manageable projects.
The first step is to identify what channel is used for each communication type. The establish what needs to be done to digitally transform these messages in a way that enhances the experience for the customer, for example, making it easier for them to interact.
A great way to begin is by using a digital communications maturity framework to help teams from within the insurance business understand the current state of digital communication across the full customer lifecycle.
It also helps to do a customer journey mapping exercise in which every department that sends the communication to the customer, identifies and describes each message that is sent.
Doing this by customer journey type helps to break down what might seem a daunting task. Start with identifying all communication that is sent to a prospect while they go through the acquisition journey. Then, identify each communication that is sent during the onboarding journey.
As you do this for the servicing, maintenance and renewal journeys, you will see how fractured communication can be, if not proactively coordinated.
Paperless insurance targets zero hard copy documents
It’s a given that insurance is a document-heavy business, but it doesn’t have to be a paper-heavy one. Being a regulated industry, insurers are required to collect documentation and deliver certain documents. Not being able to do so via the mail system was a real problem. Fortunately, any document that is sent to a customer in paper format can be converted to a digital format.
For the customer, being able to continue managing personal affairs, such as doing banking, keeping up insurance policies and paying bills, meant adopting digital interactions for a certain period of time. This led to many first-time digital users. Of course, not every customer is fully comfortable with digital communication, even if they were forced to go digital for a period of time.
Some may opt to return to printed documents when appropriate. Insurers need to be in a position to offer customers a choice in how they interact and the ability to state their personal preference when it comes to communication channels or even select channels by a communication type.
Save costs, but also consider the customer experience
Moving to paperless insurance should achieve a quick ROI and an ongoing cost-saving for the insurer, helping to offset some of the losses experienced during the pandemic. But achieving cost savings should not be the only objective of going paperless. This is an ideal opportunity to enhance the customer experience.
Fortunately, improving customer experience through a digital option is easily done. What was a flat, unnavigable policy document on paper, transforms into a fully indexed, easy-to-navigate document digitally. A paper bill becomes an interactive, digital bill that presents the most important information in a clear and concise manner.
Paperless insurance as a business objective should be seen as a journey, not a finite destination. There will always be customers that prefer paper documents, and insurers need to cater for this by offering a range of channels, with the ability for customers to select their preferred communication methods.
General Manager at Aspire CCS
Mia heads up Aspire CCS in the US, working with companies to provide strategy and advice and is a regular speaker on digital customer communication, digital maturity and improving the customer experience.
Mia has been named as an email marketing influencer multiple times and is passionate about helping organizations improve their digital communication maturity.
Prior to joining Aspire CCS, she worked at Striata for 15 years in South Africa, the UK and then settled in the US as the COO of the company, after which she headed up consulting at Doxim Striata.