Man sitting at his office desk

Current events and related government mandates have created sudden and transformative changes for insurance carriers, their agents, and their customers. The resulting transition to remote work environments has disrupted traditional agent-customer interactions. 

How can customers and their agents continue to interact effectively, despite these challenges? As we know, many agents have long been conducting remote customer meetings over the phone and by emailHowever, the efficacy of these methods isn’t guaranteed, due to factors such as agent skillset, the inability to recognize non-verbal cues, and lack of visual interaction. 

Here’s a typical experience under this model: 

  • Agent emails the customer a life insurance proposal, proposed declarations page, or existing policy document for review. 
  • During the call, the agent navigates their copy of the document, while verbally directing the customer to view the corresponding section. 
  • If there’s an agreement to proceed with what is proposed, the agent may mail or email the required forms. 

Under this model, several factors can adversely impact the interaction: 

  • Wide variability in the effectiveness of agents in managing the presentation, and in the ability of customers to follow the presentation (including in the case of a disability) and make an informed decision. 
  • Agent’s inability to pick up on important non-verbal cues such as confusion, enthusiasm, or affirmation. 
  • Agents may use technology that is unsanctioned by the insurer, when necessary technology is not provided. 

What does all this mean for insurers and their customers? The answer: diminished sales effectiveness, decreased customer experience, and compliance risks. One of the primary factors in customer regulatory complaints is a lack of understanding regarding what they purchased. Consequently, any deficiencies in a sales process that reduce the effectiveness of a presentation or diminish the customer’s ability to understand what’s presented, increase the risk of regulatory complaints and litigation.   

Additional risk exists where the customer may have disabilities that could be better supported through accessibility features, for example, closed captioning. 

Evolving to a remote work model and modern collaboration suite 

In light of current risks, what questions should insurers be asking today? Here are two: 

  1. What solutions exist to mitigate these risks and improve the customer/agent experience? 
  2. Can they be deployed quickly enough to help address the immediate challenges related to remote customer/agent interaction? 

Microsoft can support the evolution to effective remote collaboration.   

Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop allows insurers to quickly grant workers access to their full suite of business applications on their personal or corporate deviceCompared to traditional on-prem devices and applications, this service provides an equivalent level of security, device management, compliance, and functionality for a remote work environment. Additionally, Microsoft’s mobility-enabled business collaboration suite allows users to interact using full videoconferencing capabilities coupled with real-time chat throughout an organization. Furthermore, this platform is built with a broad range of native accessibility features. 

Let’s revisit the agent/customer interaction described above, and see how it might look under a modern collaboration suite: 

  • Agent creates an appointment, providing the customer a web link to the meeting. 
  • Once the link is accessedagent and customer are connected with full video, audio, and secure filesharing capabilities. 
  • As the agent presents, the customer can see exactly what they are referencing, ensuring they are in constant alignment. 
  • The agent can note any non-verbal cues and facial expressions to help more effectively manage the meeting. 
  • Questions around health or insurability that would typically require a separate phone call or email can instead be sent directly to an underwriter via the chat feature, resulting in real-time resolution/clarification. 
  • Through the filesharing feature, relevant documents can be shared securely. 
  • Accessibility features such as real-time closed captioning can be enabled to help accommodate customers that may have such a disability. 

Business impact 

Enabling remote workstations and evolving to a modern collaboration suite can result in significant, positive impact to an insurer: 

  • Enhanced customer/agent experience. 
  • Reduced compliance/litigation risk. 
  • Enables agents/employees to effectively manage business workloads remotely.
  • Increased sales effectiveness of remote presentations.
  • Full mobility experience across devices and OS.
  • Provides accessibility features supporting a wide range of customer and agent needs. 

Rapid deployment 

Microsoft understands the critical nature of deploying these tools quickly under current circumstances. We maintain dedicated departments and alliances with systems integrator firms that specialize in deploying our virtual workstation and collaboration tools quickly and effectively. We encourage you to reach out to your Microsoft Account Team to have further discussion, or explore our collaboration solutions.