Harvey, Irma, and Dealing with the Flood of Claims

In Houston, the water is receding. In Florida, the arrival of Hurricane Irma drove more than 6 million people to flee in search of safety. Eventually, after the storms pass and the rescue teams leave, the time will come to rebuild. When that happens, insurance claims will be on everyone's mind.

Just think about the situation. Anxious home and business owners, by the tens of thousands, contact their insurance companies to find out if their insurance policies cover the damage. As a result, the call center will also experience a flood of its own:

"Does my claim exceed my deductible?"

"Where do I obtain estimates for damages and repairs?"

"How long will it take to process my claim?"

Thousands of customers will need help completing their claim forms, which means they'll likely be in contact with their agents multiple times throughout the long process.

Call Center Overload

Unfortunately, nothing focuses attention like a disaster. The levees of the call center will be overwhelmed by calls that come in from the uninsured. Confronted with catastrophe, they are acutely aware now of the need to buy insurance before the next storm strikes.

How will insurance companies, agents, and call centers cope with the volume? What must they do to ensure quality of service and a positive customer experience for all claimants, both current and new?

Luckily, we live in a time when there are multiple technology options available to ensure that no matter what event has occurred, customers have a great experience. One such technology is IVR. IVR systems are used throughout insurance claims centers. But they're going to be overloaded. Customers will be facing long wait times and mass confusion, just when fast and efficient service can make a huge difference. So what can insurance companies do to change that?

They can turn to digital collaboration with visual IVR. Visual IVR enables collaborative engagements that are much more efficient and pleasing to the customer. It presents callers with a satisfying digital self-service journey that they will want to use from then on because engaging and intuitive customer journeys boost rates of success and reduce both call volumes and time spent.

With digital collaboration, customers can enjoy a host of self-service options, allowing them to view bills, file claims, review policies, view claim status, and much more.

Simple, intuitive visual menus on customers' mobile phone or computer screens enhance their experiences as they guide customers through the process. If, at the end of the process, a customer still needs or wants to speak to an agent, the agent will quickly be able to see the entire journey that customer already undertook. The conversation need not start at the beginning but where the digital-self-service left off. A true time-saver for customer and agent alike.

Like a team, the agent and customer can co-browse, sharing the same screen, to complete claim forms, sign them digitally, and even share photos of properties and assets to add them to claims in real time. At a stressful time, this high level of service and cooperation brings customers some much-needed relief.

Other collaboration tools are available as well. Intelligent service bots, for example, can guide users through online sessions. The bots can be exploited in a variety of helpful and efficient ways, from answering simple questions to helping customers fill in forms online. Even near-human chat (in free text) based on artificial intelligence is available to speed things along.

Faster Resolution Makes Happier Customers

Standard IVR technology is widely used by most insurance companies. Yet, on many occasions, it fails to respond to the needs of the modern customer. The desired caller journey in the mobile computing age is both audio and visual: swipe, type, and talk. Insurance companies need to take note.

Augmenting traditional call center technologies with digital capabilities adds a visual presentation of information and process flows. The convenience of the visual presentation of information choices for mobile devices is crucial to successful customer response. And, visual menus are intuitive for customers to use, as they provide for the transfer of customer information and choices directly to the customer service (or sales) agent as necessary.

Customer service can deliver digital media, such as web pages, images, forms, data, and video, throughout the entire IVR session. Some interesting use cases include the following:

  • The customer dials any number, as normal, and gets the standard voice response menus, but at the same time the screen on the mobile phone shows all the messages, navigation menus, and self-service options. While in the call, the representative can push images and explanations onto the caller's phone. When the call ends, the caller can be presented with a summary and a survey.
  • When customers dial a number associated with a visual service, they will get a set of predefined menus. At this stage, they can choose to be disconnected and will be able to navigate the menu without keeping the phone line busy.
  • While the caller is on hold and waits for the next available customer service representative, the rich visual layer acts as a billboard, providing relevant information to make the call shorter, requesting information from customers, or promoting self-service, showing commercial content to turn the call into an opportunity or even entertaining the caller to make waiting time more pleasant.

Customer Satisfaction is a Smart Business Decision

In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we can expect huge pressure on insurance companies, along with huge opportunities to do things better. Using visual IVR and service bots to divert many of the simple tasks to digital self-service and advanced collaboration to improve agent-caller interactions enables insurers to both ease the burden on their staff and improve customer service at the same time.

At a time of crisis, the last thing customers want to do is sit in a long queue to speak with an overworked agent. Digital platforms ensure that all callers enjoy a high-quality customer experience and help agents reach quick and efficient first-call resolutions. Faster customer journeys ensure that all callers enjoy a stress-free customer experience so they can focus on what's really important: rebuilding their homes without any added worry from the insurance process.

Ori Faran is founder and CEO of CallVU.

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Posted October 13, 2017