This is part 2 of a 4-part-series. Find the other parts here:
Of all the approaches traditionally pursued by property-and-casualty (P&C) insurers, one is persistently overlooked: Standardization. Standardized work is easier to digitize, automate, and analyze. And it’s a prerequisite for cutting costs, recouping lost capacity, and improving the customer experience or CX.
Better yet, it’s a surprisingly accessible opportunity, for insurers of virtually any size. And it can yield transformational business improvements in as little as six months.
Standardization also paves the way for advanced analytics and automation.
The benefits of standardization play a lead role in each of the “big rock opportunities” which insurers continually confront—the focus of this series of articles, let’s see how this power can slash costs and turbocharge effectiveness in policyholder services:
While “policyholder services” encompasses everything from onboarding to invoicing, nowhere is the need for standardization more glaring than call-center operations.
In theory, a call center shouldn’t even exist. If you’re doing everything right, no policyholder would ever need to call.
Of course the reality is different. Executives equate “call center” with “cost center”: a perennial focus of well-intended budget bludgeoning. And while it’s true that virtually every insurer’s call center today is suffering from bloat and waste, it also hides a massive opportunity:
You can slash call-center costs and improve customer experience (CX) at the same time. That “cost reduction versus CX investment” notion is a false tradeoff. Don’t believe it. Demand both.
What’s more, the call center can—and should—be used to drive marketing, product development, and more. Why? It’s an overlooked goldmine of customer data. You don’t need to hire a market-research firm. You simply need to analyze that data. And you have tons of it.
Let’s see how The Lab’s “power trio” of Knowledge Work Standardization (KWS), robotic process automation (RPA), and business intelligence (BI) analytics can save the typical P&C call center about 15 to 20 percent… while providing a CX lift at the same time.
Given the relentless march toward remote staffing, call-center challenges are multiplied by a lack of visibility. Still, the challenges remain unchanged. That’s because all calls can be broken down into the same segmented sequence—a miniature business process:
In short, you want to optimize the front and back ends of this process in order to best “fix the middle”:
Typical front-end routing takes the form of IVR (interactive voice response): the familiar “If you need X, Press One; if you need Y, Press Two.” Never take IVR for granted. The Lab always finds issues with its configuration and routing that add needless complexity for operations and customer experience.
Back-end improvements typically aren’t even investigated. It’s a standardization benefit that’s hiding in plain sight.
Then move on to the middle where there’s now less to fix.
Supervisors are usually confident they understand their individual customer service reps’ (CSRs’) capabilities and performance. The data usually shatters this confidence.
Take a look at the chart below. It depicts the “long tail” of CSR productivity—typical of what The Lab finds in a call-center. That’s a six-fold variance between the top and bottom quartiles!
Your business and your policyholders don’t benefit when those high performers on the left, carry the laggards on the right. Take a look at what The Lab calls a “Lift/Drag” diagram:
You want to lift the second-best performers to match the very best. And you want to elevate or, yes, eliminate the lowest performers.
Once you dive into the data, you’ll spot the problems. You may have 600 CSRs—with 600 ways of doing things. Six-hundred different opening statements. Some take ten seconds. Others take 40. Still others chat about the weather.
Ditto for hold time and transfer variance. What are the root causes? Do you know where these are clustered? And why? Are you tracking how the best CSRs reduce hold time and decrease average handle time (AHT)?
Some of the data is easy to come by, such as average speed of answer (ASA) and hold times. Some of it takes more work, but far less than everyone thinks. Yes, you need to listen to a statistically-significant number of recordings, and log the data. No, you don’t need to “boil the ocean.” The Lab routinely completes this essential, invaluable, in-the-weeds work in a matter of weeks.
The Lab uses this information to create capacity models, which pave the way for one of the call center’s greatest tools: Advanced analytics.
Business intelligence (BI), also known as advanced analytics, refers to dashboards that crunch tons of data and make it easy to understand at-a-glance, and frequently in real time. Not only is it intuitive, but it’s “click-able”: You can easily select filters, and drill down as needed. Using models based on real-world data, you can set and see targets, anticipate volume spikes—all based on “one true source of data.”
For P&C call centers that use real-time data, managers can instantly see, for example, “What were the maximum and minimum transfer-rates in the last hour?” Less “firefighting” translates to more satisfied policyholders.
There’s no way around it. Call-center reps must routinely perform repetitive, error-prone steps at their computers, such as policy amendments, waiver of premium, address changes and other data transfer, update or entry tasks.
This is exactly the kind of work that robots can do for the CSRs! The robots are fast and error-free; knowledge workers actually love them! Consider, for example, all the routine after-call work steps that reps are forced to perform. Do unconnected systems make them write that change-of-address on a note pad, and then log into multiple systems to update it? Let The Lab “park a bot” on that chore.
Similarly, robots can scour a dashboard for key insights—performance trends, policies at risk of lapse—and automatically email their findings to CSRs, supervisors, and leadership. Imagine getting updates from your “reporting bot” every two hours!
If you’re looking to crush call-center costs while boosting performance and customer experience, contact The Lab to schedule your no-obligation 30-minute screen-sharing demo. We’ll show you how we deliver all this power—remotely, from our U.S. offices in Houston—and answer any questions you may have, too.