My son recently walked out to his car and found the front end damaged from what was likely someone backing into him. Unfortunately, there was no note. The police were called and a report was taken. From there, a claim was filed with our insurance company.
Our particular insurance company is very modern. The claim could be opened from their mobile app, so we started there. We could submit our own photos or get a formal estimate from a body shop that included photos and submit that; we opted to obtain an estimate and submit it with the claim in an attempt to speed the process along. When the claim was opened, we were prompted to verify the current email address and provide a text-friendly mobile number to ease communications. With that process completed, we were assigned a claims specialist.
Unfortunately, what seemed so easy quickly devolved into a somewhat confusing and occasionally frustrating process. This was due to failures on the insurance company’s part to properly perform customer service journey mapping and to connect customer service tasks across the company.
Multi-channel masquerading as omnichannel
The ability to text or email the claims specialist seemed very convenient since each communications channel had its benefits: if a quick and short response is needed, a text could be sent; if the situation requires a longer response including an attachment, email would be better. Unfortunately, those two channels were not working together.
Inquiries by the claims specialist came over both channels. Both sought the same information: had a police report been filed; if so, what was the case number; etc. Initially, for the questions with easy answers, I responded with texts. Those messages were acknowledged as received with an automated response.
The problem was those texts weren’t making it to the claims specialist. I would receive an email from the claims specialist asking if I was going to respond to the latest email message, to which I would respond I had answered via text hours before. After the second such exchange, I gave up on the text messages and stuck only with email.
Recall we submitted a body shop estimate along with the original claim. Once the claims processing began, the claims specialist asked for photos. I responded (over email now) that the estimate included several photos; were more required? The response was no–but could the estimate be re-sent in email, leading me to believe it had not been provided to her.
The communications failures weren’t limited just to questions from the claims specialist. Insurance claims are a complex process, requiring adjusters to review the claim and determine payment. Shortly after the request for a copy of the estimate, a claims adjuster also asked for photos. I once again asked if the estimate could not be used, which was then emailed a second time to this new requester.
Expectations set and missed
I mentioned insurance claims are a complex process. Despite mixed results with the mobile app, all communications from the insurance company clearly articulated what information was needed at each step and in what timeframe to expect a response and progress towards the next step.
Once I figured out the texting debacle and limited communications to email only, progress was made–but that abruptly changed. When the claims adjuster had the estimate, I was told to expect an update within two days. After four days of silence, I emailed the claims specialist to check the status and was told some higher priority claims had come in and I should receive their estimate “soon.”
Report card: A for effort, C for results
The claims process is something untold numbers of my insurance company’s customers undergo each day. It has to be one of their most common customer journeys. There were some stumblings along the path for several reasons.
First, the mobile app, while convenient for the customer, didn’t live up to its promises. It offered a simple means of starting the claim but apparently didn’t share the collected information with the appropriate teams. Does the company lack workflow behind the scenes to do this? Is it a lack of a customer service platform capable of connecting teams to share information and solve the issue?
Next were the disconnected communication channels. Text and email communications, if offered, should be reconciled so that a single conversation is taking place. As additional teams were added to resolve the claim, workflow and a single system of record (or integration between necessary systems) ensure everyone is on the same page without requesting additional information the customer (especially information the customer has previously provided).
Finally, establish and abide by service level agreements (SLAs) on the journey. Insurance claims take time, so set expectations (an SLA) with the customer for each step of the process. If an SLA will be missed, communicate this to the customer as well as provide an update as to when to expect new information. This is yet another place workflow and automation can assist.
Never stop mapping
My son’s car goes in for repair next week. Initial payment to the body shop has already been made. While a positive conclusion is near, you might say my experience had a few accidents along the way. These are the type of situations insurance companies should be striving to avoid, as I will consider my options when my policy renewal comes up.
Customer journeys are dynamic. They can change as customers’ needs evolve, business processes change, or for other reasons. Adding a mobile app or deciding to communicate SLAs to the customer might seem like great ideas at the time. However, they may end up negatively impacting the customer experience when customer journey mapping isn’t ongoing to identify potential disruptions.