Q: “We would like to begin exploring e-delivery, but it seems a bit daunting to get it right. Are there any best practices on how to approach?
A: For many insurers, this is a burning question. The move toward e-delivery is an unstoppable trend, driven by the increasing expectations of customers and distribution partners. Our research shows that most insurers are still in the beginning stages of e-delivery.
Some of the tier 1 companies and the more innovative mid-tier companies are farther along, but most companies have limited options or even no options for e-delivery at this point. As one example of the progress and, conversely, the remaining opportunity, 39% of insurers say they offer e-delivery of ID cards today.
This should be one of the easiest customer communications to deliver electronically, yet 61% of insurers don’t provide it today (and this is just delivering via e-mail or a web link for customers to print on their own, not delivering to a mobile device which requires regulatory approval by each state).
So the questions are how to begin and what can be learned from the pioneers in this area? Here are some obvious (and some not-so-obvious) steps to take in the planning for e-delivery:
- Develop an overall plan incorporating both e-delivery and print/mail. Many of the early movers in e-delivery are funding their efforts by reducing print and mail costs. Map out a multi-year strategy on how you will ramp up e-delivery and gradually decrease physical paper output and delivery. Consider the assets currently owned for print/mail or the terms of the outsourcing contracts you may have in this area.
- Investigate to determine what your customers and agents value most for e-delivery. Of course, there are many types of customer communications and it is not necessary to e-deliver all of those right away. And, not everyone is clamoring to get all their documents via e-mail or their mobile device. Understand which segments are pushing for more e-delivery and what specific kinds of documents will provide the highest value – The policy dec set? Bills? Renewal notices? Claims correspondence?
- Ensure that you are capturing contact information at the front end. Often the current systems do not capture e-mail IDs or mobile phone numbers for texting. When independent producers are in the loop it may be even more difficult to secure this information. Consider building it in as a standard question on the app.
- Develop a plan and an IT approach for capturing and managing delivery preferences. Early implementers built their own systems or extended current systems for this function, but now there are more software providers that are beginning to offer these solutions. It is important to understand the customer/agent preference for delivery of each type of document – it should not be just an overall yes/no decision. Policyholders may want to have their policy e-delivered and their renewal letters in the mail – or vice versa. Each policyholder will have different needs. Some insurers that are more advanced in e-delivery offer a simple menu selection option via their policyholder portal.
- Ensure that the software systems that will generate and deliver documents (policy systems, CCM) can produce the digital content for e-delivery in the appropriate formats. Ideally, they will also track and manage the e-delivery of the communication or provide a linkage to a CRM solution or other system that will manage the actual delivery.
E-delivery offers great promise for insurers and plays an important role in improving the customer experience. Ultimately, it can be a triple win situation: lower the costs, satisfy the customers, and go green. Plans for e-delivery must be integrated with plans for core systems, CCM solutions, and CRM, and should be considered as part of a longer term strategy, not just point projects.
Mark Breading, SMA Partner