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Harvey, Irma and the Flood of Claims

September 7, 2017

So far, 2017 Hurricane Season is one of the worse ever recorded. Eventually, after the storms pass, insurance call centers will need to deal with a new type of flood.

In Houston, the water is receding. In Florida, the fury of Hurricane Irma drove more than six million people to flee in search of safety.

Eventually, after the storms pass and the rescue teams leave, the time will come to rebuild. When that happens, insurance claims will be on everyone’s mind.

Just think about the situation. Anxious home and business owners, by the tens of thousands, contact their insurance companies to discover if their insurance policies cover the damage. “They know that insurers handle claims on a first-come, first serve basis,” said J. Robert Hunter, Director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America.

The call center will be suddenly inundated with a flood of its own:

“Does my claim exceed my deductible?”

“Where do I obtain estimates for damages and repairs?”

“How long will it take to process my claim?”

Thousands of customers will need help to fill in the myriad claim forms. They will be in repeated contact with their agents throughout the long processing time.

According to NBC News, “[Texas’s] big insurers have been going into action. State Farm tweeted that it was adding hundreds of staff to help customers file claims. Allstate tweeted, ‘We’re moving into the areas affected by Harvey, ready to help start the recovery process.’ ”

We can expect a more urgent, Florida-style repeat in the wake of Irma.

Unfortunately, nothing focuses attention like a disaster. The levees of the call center will be overwhelmed by a deluge of calls that come in from the uninsured. Confronted with catastrophe, they are acutely aware of the need to buy insurance before the next storm strikes.

How will insurance companies, agents and call centers cope with the volume? What must they do to ensure quality of service and a positive customer experience for all claimants as well as new customers?

DIGITAL COLLABORATION FOR GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

IVR systems are used all over insurance claims centers. But they are going to be overloaded. Customers will be facing long wait times and mass confusion – just at the time when fast and efficient service can make a huge difference. What can insurance companies do now to change that situation?

They can turn to digital collaboration with Visual IVR.

Visual IVR enables collaborative engagements that are much more efficient – and pleasing. It presents callers with a satisfying digital self-service journey that they will want to use from then on. Engaging and intuitive customer journeys boost rates of success and reduce call volumes and time spent.

With digital collaboration, customers can enjoy a host of self-service options, allowing them to

  • View bills
  • File claims
  • View policies
  • View claim status
  • And much more

A simple, intuitive visual menu on the mobile phone or computer screen enhances customer experience as it guides customers through the process. If, at the end of the process, a customer still needs or wants to speak to an agent, the agent will quickly be able to see the entire journey that customer undertook before arriving. The conversation need not start at the beginning, but where the digital-self-service left off. What a time-saver for customer and agent alike!

Like a team, the agent and customer can co-browse, sharing the same screen to complete claim forms, sign them digitally and even share photos of properties and assets and add them to claims in real time. At a stressful time, customers are relieved by with the high level of service and cooperation.

Other collaboration tools are available as well.

Intelligent service BOTS can guide users through online sessions. The BOTs can be exploited in a variety of helpful and efficient ways, from answering simple questions to helping customers fill in forms online. Even near-human chat (in free text) based on artificial intelligence is available to speed things along.