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Lessons Learned Series: Go beyond technology

By the Solera Insights team

Keeping up with today’s diverse customer needs is often the top challenge insurance carriers and body shops face. Although today’s competitive ecosystem and technologies create complexities, customer needs are much simpler. I’m elated to kick off this blog series, Lessons Learned, to share industry-leading insights you can utilize to meet customers where they want to be met.

In the insurance world, customers seek empathy, rapid resolutions, and cost savings—and there’s perhaps no better time to extend empathy and efficiency to customers than during the First Notice of Loss (FNOL). The FNOL, which is the initial report made to an insurance company when an insured asset is lost, stolen, or damaged, is critical to the insurance claims process. I recently joined a Reuters panel to discuss the significance of an efficient and customer-centric FNOL process. Read on for my top takeaways!

The significance of the FNOL stage

The FNOL is the first step in the long and anxiety-inducing auto claims process for many customers. An extensive McKinsey report on the significance of crafting superior customer experiences concluded that customers are 80 percent more likely to renew their insurance policies when they have satisfactory experiences. Many may believe that the last impression reigns supreme in this instance. However, a quality first impression is vital when customers are at their most vulnerable — as they often are in the aftermath of an accident.

Insurance providers who retain customers and stand apart from the competition prioritize the FNOL experience with AI-backed innovation that blends convenience with reliability. Let’s look at why and how.

Identifying hurdles in innovation

We live in the age of technology — and we’re only becoming savvier as customers, with our expectations heightening to new levels at unprecedented rates. Nowadays, we order almost anything online with the click of a few buttons, and we rely on technology to do our jobs, remain entertained, and generate convenience in our lives.

With this rapid innovation comes rapid overload. The speed at which we’re becoming more acquainted with technology can make it difficult for insurance leaders to identify the best avenues for investment.  

When prioritizing innovation, insurance carriers and body shop leaders may often ask themselves:

  1. Will I see a significant return on investment (ROI) with this technology? If so, when?
  2. Can this technology easily integrate with my other devices and applications?
  3. Does this technology enable my business to meet the customer where they want to be met?

With these questions top of mind, industry leaders must discern and decipher which technologies are worth the investment in terms of time and money. It must be technology that can evolve as the industry evolves, scale with business and customer needs, and integrate or align with software and applications already in place.

FNOL and the moment of truth

Customers view the FNOL report as the moment of truth with insurance companies and body shops. They’re coming to providers with a problem and are looking for the speediest, most efficient, and most affordable path forward. Companies can exceed customer expectations by utilizing an omnichannel process that places the customer at the center to receive the most aligned care every step of the way.

The most pertinent focus in the beginning stages of the claims process is not to discount the emotional state of many customers. Some accidents may be minor, while others may have resulted in severe injury or threat of litigation. Companies need to prioritize human interaction to understand the customer’s circumstances straight away. They should ask the most important questions, including, “Is the customer injured or unharmed?” and “Is the vehicle drivable?”

Many larger companies try to streamline frequently asked customer questions with standard call center talking points, chatbots, and automated responses. Automating or condensing customer responses certainly has its place in some instances, but leaders must heed cautiously. A smart business strategy is to minimize contact and create platforms for frequent questions and answers when convenient for both the customer and the provider. When it’s only suitable for the provider, the customer suffers and so does a company’s long-term reputation and customer retention rates. If a FNOL claims report can be submitted digitally, balancing automated questions with human contact to maintain low abandonment rates is imperative.

Empathy and efficient processes should take precedence and enable companies to build trust with customers early on. For example, businesses with call centers can send questions through an organized funnel. Standard questions go to a generic department, and unique company or operating-specific questions are sent through to dedicated specialists.

Companies should also enable customers to decide how digital they want their path forward to be as soon as the FNOL process begins. Empowering customers to communicate through the entire process their way, whether via email, text, or phone call, will increase carrier loyalty and drive customer retention.

With these operational strategies in place, a successful company is well on its way to creating a successful FNOL process that will catalyze a streamlined and well-executed claims process. The final remaining — and most vital — factor is identifying if the technology allows space for human interaction and automation to live harmoniously in the claims management process.

Qapter Intelligent Estimating, a claims management solution from Solera, can help you locate human “on-ramps” and “off-ramps” within the process, so customers can engage with dedicated specialists at their choosing and based on their needs. An AI-driven claims management process doesn’t mean that carriers are removing human engagement. It simply allows carriers to scale and optimize operational efficiencies when the customer is willing to play along. 

That’s a wrap on lesson one! Carriers that provide onramps and offramps for customers during the claims and repair process are meeting customers where they want to be met. Click here for part two in our continuing series!

For more information on Qapter, visit https://www.solera.com/solutions/vehicle-claims/qapter/