Think about the following important objectives in managing an insurance busi-ness: increasing sales, controlling expenses, enhancing customer service and reducing loss costs. Each objective is vital to an insurer's strategy, although a strong case can be made that exemplary customer service is the most pervasive and meaningful. Yet the question remains, "How can we best achieve great customer service?"
Insurance customers most frequently interact with insurers via local agents, call centers, claim adjusters and online. Certain commercial customers might also interact directly with underwriters and loss control specialists. Unfortunately, many insurance companies don't have the proper business and technology capabilities in place to connect various channels for customer service, especially across the enterprise.
The Unified Solutions Imperative ... Enabling Integration And Workflow
The key to great customer service is effectively provide it across the the entire business with consistent, timely communications between policyholders and the organization. Do so, and customer retention improves. A unified customer service capability readies the organization to execute quickly when opportunities arise to enter a new market or launch a new product. Insurers must build a unified organization, and the best first step is to take an outside-in view of their organization and assess interaction capabilities from the customer's perspective.
In pursuing the ability to offer superior customer service, proactive insurers are leading the way with multichannel sales and service, up-to-the-second information and warm transfers. The unified solutions that enable these capabilities are becoming an imperative, and require two main technology attributes: the full integration of technology across the enterprise and advanced workflow.
There are integration challenges and solutions. The systems an insurer utilizes for sales, underwriting, policy servicing, billing and claims should all be linked together to speed the flow of information and service. Yet, many insurers still maintain a hodgepodge of systems and applications that make it difficult to ever fully achieve effective integration and information flow between systems.
To improve systems integration, some insurance companies have turned to open architectures and integrated software suites, and others have adopted a disciplined development approach based on a service oriented architecture (SOA). But the best...