This article was first published by Insurance Business UK
Blending technological and people-focused solutions is the bread and butter of what John Cooper, Head of IT – Claims Solutions, has been doing ever since he moved into the technology space, and he has seen that blend enter a new era during the COVID crisis. Cooper, who joined the company a day before the move to remote working occurred, noted that he has yet to meet most of his team which has grown from 25 to 70 people over the year.
It might be expected that such a dramatic upheaval would come only with complications but for Cooper and his team, the path was made clear as Davies had the mindset of viewing technology as an enabler long before it became a necessity. For many businesses, the adaptions of the last year have been viewed as a cumbersome extra step, whereas the group was already exploring utilising innovative tech solutions to drive progress and improve the experience of their customers.
“Where COVID has really made its mark is that people are now much happier to do things digitally and indeed have even come to expect it,” he said. “In the insurance sector, there’s a whole lifecycle with each customer and… if you do have to make a claim, you expect that process to be smooth and uncomplicated for you as a user. What that means for us as a business is that we have to be multi-faceted and we need to have the capability to deliver solutions for our customers in multiple ways.”
For Cooper and his team, this has been enabled through the utilisation of chatbots which give clients a flexible, digital-first solution, designed for maximum convenience and Davies’s mobile app ‘Connect’ that sends out continual updates as to the status of a claim. The technology has the dual benefit of cutting out unnecessary communications while capturing information to create an ‘electronic notification of loss’ (ENOL) when an incident has occurred.
At the point of a claim, what clients need most is convenience and immediacy, and this is where Davies’s ENOL claims platform comes in as it allows clients to update their insurance company any time, any place. Between this platform, which is accessible as a web page or an app, and the available chatbots, he said, the firm has a lot in place to support customers digitally but is continuing to innovate through RPA systems and tech partnerships that will continue to streamline the claims process, to the benefit of the business and customers alike.
Cooper noted that despite the success of Davies’s tech solutions, and the increased demand for such offerings during the pandemic, the company is still cognizant that sometimes customers require a more traditional approach and, in such cases, a claims handler is always on hand to provide support. About 90% of the time, however, the digital approach does work best, a statistic that is only increasing as the wider public become more comfortable with using technology.
“We are seeing across the board that not only are people more receptive to digital but also a lot more people are now expecting digital,” he said. “So, if you’re not delivering a digital platform, then potentially you are out on the backfoot versus other organisations and, as a result, other companies will come in and they fill those gaps. Luckily, Davies has always been quite a technology-led company anyway, and we can even consult on that for insurance companies – so we really do practice what we preach and we certainly focus on digital where possible.”
Creating a digital strategy is about being directed by what customers require, he said, but also by what technology is available and possible, and by data insights that reveal the smoothest path to driving a product set forward. A broad overview is needed of the connection between supply and demand because, as is the case with Davies, many of the services that its clients are now using have been around for quite a while, they just weren’t utilised.
Cooper believes that the demand for innovation in insurance services will not just continue, but will accelerate as consumers come to understand the range of benefits that accompany flexible, accessible digital products. Even from his own experience, he said, he sees how his driving habits have changed during COVID and how insurers are now moving to plug the gap between usage and premium.
“I think the legacy of the COVID crisis is going to be a 24/7 mindset,” he said. “And that goes beyond just being 24/7, it’s about making sure technology gives you the convenience that people are expecting. There’s an acceptance of tech now, with so many businesses having implemented digital transformation in the space of a few days during the early days of the pandemic. Here at Davies, for instance, we quickly shipped more than a thousand laptops to our people to allow them to work remotely.
“And people have been pulling together, and there’s much more of a community feel around now. Even consider how many people now think far more about our NHS staff than they did previously and how many are looking at shopping locally and supporting local businesses. That community aspect feeds into businesses and it means we all have to start making sure that what we deliver feels local and personal to our customers.”