Diverging customer expectations demand greater operational focus

Woman showing man info on a tabletEditor’s note: This blog post was originally published on cio.com.

Insurers and corporate clients are facing a perfect storm as they grapple with heightened regulatory risks and the digital demands of the Facebook generation while continuing to meet the service and communications needs of an aging customer base.

Despite great endeavours to ‘go digital’, paper remains at the heart of many organizations. Fuelled by the diverging expectations of the early boomers of the mid-1940s through to today’s Millennials, never before has the sheer volume of disparate information sources been greater. The challenges for risk professionals are profound. Forced to balance the needs of a rapidly changing marketplace with the scrutiny of compliance from regulators and a plethora of stakeholders, managing such complexities and risks require a clear operational strategy.

Developing a client-centric strategy by ditching paper

A key issue facing such organizations is how they can develop a client-centric strategy – a strategy that empowers them to recognize the disparate needs of individual customers, while ensuring they manage information securely and cost effectively.

It is a dilemma that resonates more strongly with insurers challenged by legacy line of business (LOB) systems and processes, originally designed for internal access and offering only limited connectivity, rarely intended for customer interaction. On the opposite side are the newcomers to the marketplace, devoid of the significant baggage of legacy IT systems and other organizational complexities.

So what are the options available to these organizations? In particular, how do they harness information – whether generated online, telephone or printed forms – to build customer-centric quality growth, while retaining a firm focus on risk management?

Customers demand and expect ever-higher levels of service and value. Social channels add further to the mix, offering individuals the ability to communicate openly about their experiences, often to the exclusion of the firm in question.

It is in such environments that enterprise content management (ECM) solutions come to the fore, by providing an agile middleware layer of renewed functionality and control. The right ECM solution helps increase user productivity through the elimination of application switching and the automation of costly manual tasks. It also captures information and documentation digitally, making it instantly available to the right employees when they need it. With the benefit of increased transparency into digital documents, information and processes, executives and managers also gain improved visibility into the status of projects and processes, while empowering staff to focus on assisting customers.

This enhanced transparency also automatically generates audit trails that detail who did what and when, providing corporate assurance for compliance purposes.

Using a single platform to connect systems across enterprises

Efficiency, cost-savings, integration and fewer steps in a process are all potential benefits when considering the wider IT strategy. However, this value proposition could be lost when installing a new system that adds more work for every other system.

The interaction of the ECM system and existing systems will, therefore, play a key part in how organisations that still rely on legacy technology can make significant headways in this area.

Take, for example, a traditional claims process in the U.K., whether for an insured risk or a mainstream corporate warranty claim. More often than not, this requires input from multiple sources – possibly paper, email, in-house customer records – with the claims adviser expected to know and access multiple systems, just to be able to operate.

Imagine the number of screen changes and system-swapping actions required when answering a client query, even worse if it is a telephone call. As every single system that touches the customer needs to be updated – and sometimes the systems do not talk to each other – it becomes a manual process of rekeying information many times. Aside from this approach being time consuming, it leaves far too much room for human error.

This places a significant premium on staff operating costs and challenges staff retention, while doing little to improve the customer experience.

In a seamlessly interoperable environment, your ECM strategy will allow you to go beyond simple data retrieval, where customers may provide the initial data electronically via an eform, a mixture of electronic and paper documents or even as a transferred file from the account transfer agency. Robust ECM systems capture this data simply, auto-fill and index it across the required legacy systems and then update and link to relevant documentation stored within the system. All while providing management information and reporting dashboards, without the need to switch screens, rekey information or train staff on multiple systems.

Just fast efficient interoperability, providing effective and secure data delivery.

Such interoperable environments help manage risks and improve business decision making by delivering immediate access to supporting documentation. In parallel, you keep training costs at sensible levels, accelerate user adoption and improve service levels.

Changing demographics, new technologies and tightening regulatory regimes means risk managers are unlikely to see a let-up in the challenge to balance commercial and risk objectives. However, by reshaping processes and operations, you have the opportunity to deliver a strategy that enables you to deliver seemingly divergent objectives, without having to compromise on the overall focus of the organisation.

Colin Dean

Working from Hyland's London office, Colin brings more than 30 years of corporate experience ranging from enterprise content management (ECM) to natural language processing (NLP) for clients ranging from the Lloyds Banking Group to BUPA. Over this period, he has seen many changes in system and solution approaches, some successful and some that should not have seen the light of day. As someone who can remember when legacy systems were mere young kids on the block, you can guarantee he will have a point of view.

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