By Kirk Fergusson on Nov 27, 2019 8:00:00 AM
When my 20-something son recently purchased his first car, he opted to get his insurance from one of the new insuretech firms and, by his accounting of the process, it was fairly straightforward, relatively quick and resulted in a lower premium.
Hearing this, when I decided to purchase a new automobile and therefore new auto insurance myself. And sought an online quote from the same insurance company. Lo and behold, the rate I was quoted was cheaper and so I investigated what would happen if I switched my wife’s auto insurance and our home policy over to the same firm. Sure enough, the quote I received online was very attractive, so I decided to make a complete switch.
Repetitive call centre experience creates friction
The next step in the process was to call and confirm my particulars over the phone, after which I’d be provided with a new policy for our automobiles and home. And that’s when the “digital experience” evaporated unfortunately.
The first time I called the new insurance company to confirm my information, I found myself repeating many of the same data points that I had provided through the online forms – in addition to providing some new information, which I gladly would have provided online upfront had I been given the option. I feel it’s easier to input existing policy information, etc. online than it is to be asked to search my physical files for that information and provide it on the telephone in “real time.” I probably spent 15 minutes on the phone on that call.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have my wife’s driver’s license handy, so I had to arrange to speak to the agent the next day. I assume they wanted that information to validate my wife’s driving history before confirming the quote they were issuing. In thinking about it, by providing my existing auto insurance policy to the new provider, I thought they’d be able to get that information that way.
I missed the agent’s call the next day at the agreed upon time to call back with who I thought would be the same agent. I called the insurance call centre back assuming (naively perhaps) that they would be able to reconnect me with the first agent I spoke to, once they confirmed my name and policy number. I wasn’t able to speak to the same person, but a new agent was pleased to help me complete my application.
Once again, I repeated much of the same information I provided online and during my first conversation with the call centre. I recall asking on more than a couple of occasions, “Haven’t I provided that information already? I’m pretty sure that should already be in my application.” Unlike the first call, with this agent, I wasn’t put on hold however there were long periods of “dead air” – on a few occasions, I asked if she was still there. Things progressed nicely until I was asked for my banking information – to facilitate direct monthly payments. I didn’t have any cheques on my person as I was calling from the office, so I agreed to contact them the following day. This second call easily lasted more than 30 minutes.
The next day, I made my third call to the call centre and explained I simply needed to provide my banking information to complete an application and was transferred to a licensed online insurance broker, who I was told would complete my application. He was friendly and pleasant, but I realized he was going to ask me many of the same questions I’d already answered a couple of times – even though I explained I was simply calling to confirm my payment information. It didn’t matter, he had to go through everything with me – which took about 45 minutes. Which included a series of questions he formally had to pose and to which I needed to respond, as this was recorded.
At the end of that call, he asked when I intended to pick up my new car and I responded, “After work today.” Humm, he then proceeded to explain the insurance wouldn’t be fully available until after midnight, but if I could confirm the specific window when I was picking up the car and driving it home – and I could only go home with it – then he could provide me with a special waiver for that time period. Yeeps!! Since I didn’t know how long it would take at the dealership, I opted to pick up the car the next day.
Old school processes cost time and money
What was my takeaway? First, my premiums ended up being lower and I was satisfied with that. However, I was not pleased that the digital experience concluded at the point of a quote being tentatively proffered. Everything after that point was “old school” – relying on multiple interactions with call centre agents, who were seemingly starting from scratch every time I called. Total time for call centre interactions was estimated at 90 minutes! Not a great customer experience and a very expensive process to boot.
As a business technologist, I was surprised the “insuretech” firm wasn’t leveraging digital assets from other trusted sources, such as banks, traditional insurance companies or government agencies. Many of whom would know quite a bit about me as a client and customer.
End-to-end digital processes are needed for consumer onboarding
Firms offering a digital experience need to consider friction in their processes and employ ways to deliver an end-to-end digital experience, less they lose prospective clients along the way. Of course, there’s also the process and costs that cannot be fully optimized when operating a half-baked digital experience that relies on a traditional channel to complete any registration process.
With identity services like Verified.Me, there are affordable ways to leverage trusted sources of digital identity – and I would strongly encourage insuretech companies to embrace these as quickly as possible to lower their costs and provide a fulsome digital experience.