At the 2016 IASA conference, held in San Antonio, Texas - Novarica, Erie Insurance and ValueMomentum collaborated to present a session titled Digital Journey: From Strategy to Implementation. Ruben Fechner, SVP and Ben Noble, VP Digital Experience, Erie Insurance Group, were among the panelists in the session, who shared their experiences in delivering engaging digital experiences for their digital journey. Joining them was Siva Pillai, Client Partner, ValueMomentum, who shared his insights from an IT practitioner’s perspective, working closely with Erie's digital program, on investing in a digital platform to enable engaging customer experiences for P&C customers.
Keep the human touch!
Sharing how Erie set out on their digital journey, Ruben Fechner stated that ‘human touch’ was the key objective of their digital journey, which matters the most while providing engaging experiences to their customers, agents and employees. The end goal of their digital transition was not to replace human touch with technology, but to enhance it. Ruben opined that organizations embarking on their digital journey must ensure not to lose sight of human touch as a result of enabling digital technologies for customer engagement.
Outside-in orientation of digital engagement
Ruben stated that before their digital journey they had an organization-wide orientation on customer engagement, which is to work with the customer and agents in way that they want to engage and interact with Erie the best. Ruben went on to add that this is completely a different orientation probably for most of the carriers – a very outside-in orientation. This is the beginning of a digital experience, according to him.
The conventional technology conversations within insurers’ organization for supporting digital engagement is usually around fulfilling immediate gap of technology to operationalize a process. This approach serves carriers’ short-term goals, not contributing to carriers’ long-term strategic vision. Ruben stated that at Erie such conversations would start by understanding the objective a new technology would serve. Then they would try to understand the experiences of the customers, agents and employees involved, and subsequently translating that into a process. Then they would decide whether the process needed to be updated or replaced. Then and only then they would talk about implementing technology.
Personal caring and satisfying experience part of customer engagement
Speaking on customer engagement orientation, Ben cited the example of Erie’s original ‘First Notice of Loss’ process. The intent of the FNOL was essentially to gather data by asking customers to fill up a form to initiate the claim processing, not remembering the involvement of a human being going through a traumatic experience on the other side. To think about this situation just as an operational process and not thinking about the experiences involved, is a very inside-out approach. According to Ben, from an outside-in orientation, insurers should make customer feel protected providing a personal, caring, and satisfying experience for processes like filing and tracking a claim.
Ben stated the product that Erie wanted to deliver with their digital transformation is a strong experience. If customer has a positive experience, satisfaction goes up, and higher satisfaction leads to measurable results in terms of retention and increased sales. Ben opined, insurers win in the market as a byproduct of focusing on creating great experiences for customers.
Ben further added that Erie looked at customer engagement journeys from an end-to-end perspective, not as standalone processes. A customer’s journey starts even before a loss. Insurers need to take account of the feelings associated with a process and ensure customer feel better even before experiencing a loss by provide empathy and making them feel that they are cared about. The role of insurers’ employee in a customer journey is not simply to collect data to run a business operation, but part of a larger process that the customer experiences.
Enrich your engagement with uniform and rich experiences
From the technology perspective, Ruben spoke about their digital platform that enabled them to separate the presentation layer from their core systems. This enabled them to create engaging experiences at the front-end without the core systems dictating those experiences. They formed a presentation team at Erie, which was solely responsible for creating the end-to-end experiences at the front-end for Erie’s all businesses processes. This team works in close collaboration with rest of the teams at Erie.
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