War for talent: Does the P&C industry need reinforcements?, in Canadian Underwriter, opens with a stark message: “It’s getting ugly out there in the war for talent in Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry.”
The post explains how increased customer demands are placing a strain on insurance staff, while at the same time insurance organizations grapple with challenges retaining their existing team and recruiting new additions.
We believe that the right technology solutions can help the insurance industry address these challenges.
And no, we’re not talking about HR solutions or workplace happiness tools: we’re talking AI-enabled tools for effective human-machine collaboration.
If that sounds audacious, then consider that such tools can:
- Reduce the strain of increased customer demands
- Replace repetitive and tedious activities with more rewarding work
- Increase employee effectiveness
- Increase employee efficiency
- Provide the opportunity for the organization at large to foster greater trust and openness with employees
- Update the image of insurance from an industry and employer brand perspective
Reduce the strain of increased customer demands
Early on, the Canadian Underwriter article says that, “It seems everyone has a story to tell about too few people doing too much work, as the industry engages customers who demand a digitized, instant-gratification insurance experience.”
Increasing customer demands certainly aren’t unique to the insurance industry: delivering 24×7 service across convenient digital channels is now a prerequisite for any consumer-oriented industry.
But meeting these demands places incredible strain on employees and employers.
How can AI-enabled tools help?
In practice, many insurance providers have upped their service game and reduced demands on their employees by introducing digital service agents.
First, automated service agents don’t sleep, so they’re always available to respond instantly. Intelligent agents are even able to execute many service workflows from start-to-finish.
Second, even if the automated agent can only handle a portion of a service request, that portion is still offloaded from a live agent. Gathering information, asking clarifying questions, and providing answers to FAQs can be a drain on employee energy and morale, so any degree of automation helps.
And this thinking isn’t merely hypothethetical, it’s already borne out in the real world. A Forrester report noted that, “once workers in an insurance contact center realized that their virtual assistant wouldn’t take their jobs or increase their call-handling time, they found that conferring with the chatbot gave them confidence, made the calls more interesting, and allowed them to address harder questions.”
Replace repetitive and tedious activities with more rewarding work
Semi-automating customer service is only one area where AI-enabled tools can take on repetitive or tedious tasks.
For instance, many brokers, underwriters, and support personnel report that they spend one to two hours per day looking for answers and information. By ‘collaborating’ with an AI-powered utility which retrieves accurate answers on-demand, these same employees can cut down that time dramatically and invest it elsewhere.
Impact of artificial intelligence, robotics and automation technologies on work, published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), notes that, “Technology is allowing for some degree of role expansion by augmenting jobs that people are already doing…and making jobs more meaningful.”
Having the right tools in place means your employees spend less time on tasks which drain their energy, and more time on cognitively challenging and satisfying work.
Increase employee effectiveness
Two ways in which human-machine collaboration leads to increased employee effectiveness are by providing employees with accurate information and by eliminating mistakes through automated workflows.
When employees are—and feel—more productive, they take greater satisfaction in their roles.
Increase employee efficiency
In addition to leading to better results (i.e., effectiveness), empowering employees with the right tools helps them get to those results more efficiently.
They spend less time searching and waiting on others, and are able to deliver more ‘output’ with the same amount of resources.
Combined, using intelligent tools to increase employee effectiveness and efficiency can go a long way towards helping your business grow without taking on new headcount and offsetting the impact of attrition.
Provide the opportunity for the organization at large to foster greater trust and openness with employees
Taking a higher-level view of things, successfully introducing new technologies requires employee support.
Impact of artificial intelligence, robotics and automation technologies on work, published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), makes it clear that “Workers’ attitudes and behaviour in relation to emerging technologies is a key mediator of the extent and the manner in which they are used. For example, workers’ trust in the technological systems can impact significantly on the effectiveness of their application.”
The report goes on to explain that “For organizations and workers to realise the benefits of innovative technologies, it is crucial that employers involve their people in times of technological implementation. Employees should not view this change as something that is ‘done to them’ – but ‘done with them’.”
Deloitte Canada’s recent report Canada’s AI imperative – Start, scale, succeed, echoes these sentiments: “While effective change management is a commonly prescribed antidote to the ‘people’ problems of any technological implementation, due to the nature of AI, traditional approaches to building political will and training employees to use new tools may not be enough. If employees don’t trust AI throughout the organization, their responses to AI efforts may be strongly negative.”
However, rather than seeing involving employees as an obligation or burden, wise organizations see an opportunity to build trust, to maximize early returns, and to ensure long-term success.
Employees who are consulted and included will feel valued.
Employees are in the best position to identify the cumbersome, difficult, or wastefully time-consuming tasks which are ideal candidates to be handled by a digital assistant.
Employees who benefit from the roll-out of new tools are far more likely to support ongoing initiatives—without feeling threatened.
Update the image of insurance from an industry and employer brand perspective
Let’s face it, if we played a word association game, then few people would pair “insurance” with “exciting” or “innovative”. The industry is dominated by paperwork and methodical processes.
But the industry is also dominated by information, and modern innovations in cognitive computing and data analysis have the potential to change how insurance companies operate.
Instead of being seen as old-economy laggards, by embracing new technologies and putting them at the forefront of recruiting efforts, the insurance industry can hit refresh on the outsider perspective.
Engaging in human-machine collaboration using AI-enabled cognitive tools in an information-dominated industry? That sounds more like a disruptive tech startup than the perception of insurance.
By increasing employee satisfaction and updating the industry’s image, innovative human-centric tools—many of which are powered by new developments in cognitive computing and artificial intelligence—have real potential to assist the insurance industry in combating its retention and recruitment challenges.
At ProNavigator, we’ve already helped more than 90 insurance organizations enjoy the real-world benefits of AI-enabled insurance technology, so we know the positive impact our solutions can have on your team.
If you’d like to see how we could help, then please reach out to us to schedule a conversation or demonstration.
Author: Joseph D’Souza