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Is Your Operation Ready for Mobile?

Steve Discher
Insurance Experts' Forum, June 21, 2012

It’s happened. The total number of mobile phones in the U.S. has surpassed our population—well, in excess of 300 million are now in use across the country. As most of us know firsthand, smartphones, tablets and mobile apps are truly pervasive and changing lives, the expectations of users and the business operations that support them.

Similar to the personal computer, mobile devices are quickly evolving and changing our daily routines, but at a much faster pace. The unfortunate news for many businesses is that the operations behind the curtain are evolving at a much slower rate than the mobile environment. For the many companies unable to keep up, this is leaving money and competitive advantage on the table.

One common example is a mobile app that lets an insured report a claim through a smartphone. Many insurers have rolled out apps that facilitate taking pictures, exchanging insurance and driver information, reporting the location, calling a tow truck, finding a rental car and repair shop, and so on.

The reality is that many carriers are not capturing the value from this new mobile interaction. The mobile app might look and sound interesting, but the reality is that the operational processes behind the scenes remain largely the same. We’ve seen countless examples of this new technology supported by outmoded processes. In the example above, there’s an opportunity to turn “first notice of loss” (FNOL) to “first and final notice of loss.”

The reality is that few carriers are adopting the end-to-end operational change needed in the mobile environment. The result: missed opportunity to improve service and cost.

Consider these ideas when embarking on mobile technology initiatives:

• Don’t employ quick fixes on top of old operational processes, skills, roles and service delivery models. This will only drive up costs and create minimal improvements in service.

• Rethink the end-to-end processes, skill requirements and metrics, starting with the customer/end user.

• Anticipate black holes from the customer perspective. The new mobile environment can be far more complex than the old when it comes to service delivery. Mobile should enhance the customer experience without blocking access to established service processes.

• Measure the success of the new end-to-end model—especially satisfaction, cycle time and cost. There’s a lot more value to be had in mobile than just creating the perception of a better customer experience.

• Consider incentives to drive customer behaviors toward mobile. For example, the best customers (i.e., least likely to report a claim) may be best suited to self-report a claim. How would we incentivize them to use this more convenient, less expensive model? What about the customers who we would least prefer use the mobile environment?

• Consider other ways to capture value from the new end-to-end mobile environment. For example, should we bundle a new service experience with a marketing or branding campaign? A contest to drive awareness? Take a look at what airlines have done to build adoption of mobile tools.

• What other initiatives underway are in conflict with mobile or need to be rethought as a result of a mobile-enhanced model?

There’s no punch list or single best practice to follow in the new world of mobile—innovations are happening in near real-time. I welcome hearing about yours.

Steve Discher is an EVP at the Robert E. Nolan Co. a management consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Steve using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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