Transforming Communications from Paper to Digital

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Choosing What Types to Move and Which Channels to Prioritize

Every insurer is participating in the paper-to-digital transformation for their communications, whether they realize it or not. Some have specific initiatives to reduce paper and deliver more communications digitally.

Others may not be able to identify specific budget line items or named projects, but the gradual digitization of communications is embedded throughout many projects across the organization.

At the same time, many are undertaking comprehensive reviews of how their customer experience, including initiatives to understand communication touch points across the entire customer journey.

These customer experience initiatives are revealing new demands from customers (including agents) related to communications, with increasing expectations that insurers will offer interactions based on information exchanged via digital channels.

With so many types of documents, the range of potential channels, the variety of products, and customers in different locations, the challenge becomes how to identify and prioritize all of the efforts needed to effectively create and deliver so much digitally. Here are some quick first steps.

Before You Start Your Paper-to-Digital Transformation

Before you start expending money and resources it is a good idea to first identify which types of digital communications are ready and which are precluded by regulations.

Today, most types of documents and communications can be conducted electronically with policyholders and agents, but there are still a few exceptions by state or province, product, and type of document. It’s better to understand what’s possible before getting too far down the road in planning for a specific e-delivery project. You can check with state or provisional insurance authorities just to make sure.

Start with Customers

A good first step in the paper-to-digital transformation process should be to determine what kinds of information policyholders will really want to receive through electronic means, and what delivery methods they prefer. It is never possible to have a perfect view of this, and sometimes customers don’t even know themselves which options are most advantageous.

But there are far too many initiatives that lead to investments based on assumptions or anecdotes. For example, an insurer may assume that customers want their policies as a PDF available through a secure web link, only to discover the take-up is very low when the service is offered. It is usually worth the investment of time and money to ask customers what they want.

Get Agent and Producer Input about Transforming from Paper to Digital

Agents and other producers should also have an important voice in the paper-to-digital transformation planning process. First, they talk to policyholders every day and have a good pulse on requirements and desires. Second, they have their own preferences for how content should be delivered to them.

An agent may want to get an electronic copy of all claims correspondence sent to the policyholder, even if some of those letters are printed and mailed.

Conversely, some agents may want to receive printed copies of every policy declaration because they still store them in filing cabinets.

Finally, agents also play an intermediary role in communications, adding personalization and content before the document is delivered to the policyholder.

 Assess the Paper-to-Digital Transformation Effort

The final step is to assess the effort and funding required for creating and delivering certain communications electronically to certain channels and devices.

As an example, it may be that an insurer is contemplating sending a first notice of loss acknowledgement letter via mobile app to a tablet device, or e-mailing the letter, or providing a link to a web site.

The tablet option may be the “coolest” and most advanced option, but it might also be the most expensive. And, it may turn out that it is prohibited by state regulations, or that few claimants really want the letter that way – an e-mailed PDF would be just fine, thank you. So before you begin, get a quick reading on the effort and costs.

These quick steps provide sensible trade-offs when prioritizing plans to convert communications from paper to digital. A full treatment of this topic is more involved, but suffice it to say that long nights and spreadsheets will probably be involved in mapping out the best combinations of communications to create and deliver through digital channels.


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