You and I both know that technology is not always an enabler.
I’m taken back to the days of (arguably) the last major technological innovation in claims adjudication – the fax machine. For those a little younger than me, that was before PDF’s and email – somewhere in the late 1970’s and early 80’s.
Prior to that, all paper-based information was transmitted via snail mail (Postal Service); or insurance specific couriers, if it was urgent. The world was in perfect balance, you knew when the mail arrived, when it was picked up and most, if not all, business processes had landed on that cadence.
Then, the introduction of the Fax – the installation of the Corporate Fax Machine (one for the company and if you were lucky, maybe one per floor or department).
It promised to speed up processing; closing claims faster, and similarly, reduce cost as we can get documents out and back in near real-time, making the customer happier (or at least less upset). As a producer or agency principal, you had to go get one too – to keep the carriers happy and to keep your contract – in this new age of communication.
How did this change our processes? Now, for an adjuster interacting with the agent or claimant, most interactions ended with “…great can you fax that to me?”
So, the process ends up looking something like this:
- You get up from your desk and go wait in line for the fax;
- Dial the number & listen for the comforting tones of the fax machines (never mind that it probably took 2 or 3 dialing attempts as the lines were mostly shared and overloaded);
- Watch the document feed;
- Wait for the confirmation page;
- Wait for the Photocopy machine & create a copy the Fax;
- Staple all three together;
- Go back to your desk;
- Call the adjuster to confirm they got it;
- Sit on hold while they went and looked;
- Confirm they got it;
- Copy it on their end;
- Place the fax in the file;
- Wait for the original to come via snail mail.
Gah! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Although, the Fax was an accelerator to information, it was a big disruptor to business process and efficiency. I would venture to say the cost to value was never realized, and that the customer experience was not improved.
Now, the paper based Claim File has been replaced by a digital Claim File system of Record for the most part; ending the era of the Fax. But with all the industry commotion around disruptive behavior, it’s important to remember the lessons learned. The disruptive ripples from these technologies can provide efficiencies and value if consumed in consideration of your enterprise foundation and business goals.
When considering any new technological solutions, it’s important to consider the end experience. Not sure where to start? How about with these three questions?
- What has been happening?
- What is going on now?
- What is next?
Whether is it with a car repair, a check issuance, or a decision process; demystifying and providing visibility results in a better experience, even if the outcome is not always positive. Carriers should first look to demystify the customer experience with their technological enhancements, while not adding more steps in the internal workflow.
I would like to leave you with the following points of consideration:
- Document what you are doing now, including pain points in the internal & external journeys;
- Survey your customers to make sure you understand how you need to support them;
- Find an innovative technology partner that support the first two points.
Adapting how you interact with stakeholders – agents, partners and policyholders – through cutting-edge software and best practice business process services can be a huge business driver. But, it’s no good if you don’t know enough about the impacts. Don’t live in the dark – learn how your new technologies are going to improve both. Reach out to us to learn how a good partner can help!