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As Insurers Scramble to Enhance the Customer Experience, What About Print?

ALS_Dave_Zamorski
by Dave Zamorski
customer-experience

Following various recent studies showing that ratings are either stagnant or declining, insurance industry leaders have issued a clarion call to develop new and better strategies to enhance the customer experience.  Central to this renewed focus is an effective Customer Communication Management strategy (CCM), which holistically manages all forms of communication and content – including e-communications, call center activity, website visits, product collateral and marketing outreach – to optimize the touchpoints of a customer’s interaction with their insurer

Rapid improvements in CCM software mean insurers have a wide range of new options to develop CCM strategies that drive increased customer satisfaction and loyalty as well as improved ROI. Localized server-based or rapidly growing cloud-based licenses give enterprises more choices than ever. The last three years have seen an explosion in new enhancements and capabilities. Companies such as GMC SoftwareHP Exstream and Thunderhead all have vastly improved their business models and are acting as the central hub for most customer communications. Moreover, they play nicely with the insurance print industry’s old guard stalwarts such as EMC, Elixir and CSC’s AWD, to name a few.

Within the broader context of a CCM strategy, print still plays a critical role in communication touches throughout the customer lifecycle. Consider: the presales process involves sales collateral and marketing materials on insurer services. During onboarding, customers receive enrollment notifications and welcome kits. Ongoing activity comprises letters, confirms, notices, policy statements and bills, as well as claims paperwork and payments – all of which are typically a mix of paper- and e-based communications. Finally, growth and retention programs provide existing customers with information and response mechanisms regarding additional services. Each of these touches provides an opportunity for the insurer to offer customers a choice of communication methods and an opportunity to gather that ever-elusive current email address of their clients. As more and more customers move to e-based preferences and services, this mix of printed communications will increasingly move to e- communications.

Traditional insurance providers are typically very paper-oriented and have been slow to react to e-delivery and payment, let alone integrated touchpoints and e-communications. This is rapidly changing in response to evolving customer demographics as well as to baby boomers’ adoption of e-services in all aspects of their lives. Enterprises are continually looking for ways to communicate more efficiently and effectively with more personal messaging that gives  the customer a choice of how they do business with their insurer. The days of generic printed mass mailings are rapidly disappearing and should already be buried.

The catch-22 for insurance providers with in-plant production print facilities is how to keep their operations competitive as they move to inkjet and incorporate a strong CCM initiative. Neither of these is inexpensive, nor a simple transition.  Moreover, a long history of mergers and acquisitions activity has created multiple legacy operating systems and a multitude of different software and file formats. This leads to extreme inefficiency  and complicates the integration of roll-fed inkjet print automation as well as broader CCM initiatives. More importantly, the inefficiency leads to a disconnect, whereby print services are unable to contribute to the customer-focused strategy that is becoming a mission-critical imperative in the industry.

Many enterprises are questioning the capital expenditure required to modernize a non-core business. Why invest millions of dollars in a shrinking environment such as print? The reason: the faster an enterprise moves away from print, the more cost savings will be generated.  Incredibly, postage – a major cost factor – is not included in many in-plant production print facilities’ budgets, as postage costs are often spread out over many business units’ budgets. As a result, the true accumulated cost is not seen by senior management. And that cost is substantial: In many cases, postage costs alone are equal to or higher than the entire print facility’s operating budget.

While seemingly simple, the solution is anything but. Customer adoption of e-communications and services adds complexity, as do compliance issues and the bandwidth and capabilities requirements of an enterprise’s IT, marketing, print, customer service and finance departments. A detailed assessment that captures the current state costs and capabilities of print and e-communications, coupled with the creation of a future state strategy regarding these capabilities, is imperative in today’s environment. By leveraging the value of print and e-communications within a CCM strategy, insurers can maximize the capabilities of best-of-breed service providers and establish a foundation for ensuring that customers receive the right information, at the right time and in the format in which they prefer.

About the author

As a senior director and Enterprise Print Services tower lead, Dave works to assess and benchmark client opportunities for improving bottom-line profitability in enterprise print, postage, and communication spend while driving future improvements through a clearly defined print and digitization strategy. He specializes in optimizing document-intensive environments. Dave is widely considered one of the foremost authorities on enterprise print communications. He works with enterprises to determine the strategy that best meets the client’s long-term objectives for print, postage, document management, Customer Communication Management (CCM), and e-delivery requirements—either through process efficiency, optimization, vendor consolidation, or sourcing strategies.