Solution Partner Views
Document Specialists Critical for the Ideal Customer Experience
Almost every organization whose success depends on effective customer communications—and this includes virtually every insurance company—believes it has document specialists, but how their roles and value are understood, appreciated, and changing are matters that deserve further exploration and in many cases, redefinition, especially as market changes, focus, and efforts emphasize customer experience more and more.
But guess what? It`s not all about digital communications. Despite the 30-plus year effort to go paperless there are still printed forms and documents in almost every insurance organization and they are still a necessity to conducting business. And they will be as long as consumers have choices on how they want to receive service communications.
These customer-oriented communications present information to policyholders and often serve to collect more or updated information. Given their continued critical role in presenting and collecting information, forms and documents—whether in print or electronic format—impact the integrity and accuracy of internal and external processes and play a key role in customer engagement and satisfaction. If we consider the seemingly endless regulatory requirements, we`ve added yet another level of complexity when it comes to getting documents and forms right.
So where do document specialists fit in the evolving customer communications and interactions picture? It`s not uncommon among larger carriers to find several people or teams with the document specialist moniker scattered throughout the enterprise. In small and mid-size carriers, the role of document specialist may be assigned to people who have broader responsibilities, with the oversight of documents just added to the list. But if the customer experience is so critical to an insurer`s business health and future, shouldn`t the oversight of documents and forms be given a higher priority than an ‘oh by the way` task?
While document specialists bear the responsibility of getting documents and forms correct, they often do not have direct access to other organizational members whose knowledge and expertise (IT, marketing, compliance, claims, underwriting, customer experience, document production, et. al.) are necessary for efficient and effective policyholder engagement. After all, getting documents right includes knowing how documents and forms are designed, how they`re shared internally, who has authority to approve new ones or revise old ones, how they`re delivered (print, email, web, mobile, etc.), and finally, how they`re used by policyholders and agents.
Let`s face it. When it comes to customer communications, it takes an organizational village.
Unless document specialists are part of an enterprise team, insurers risk a disjointed customer engagement strategy resulting in inconsistent experiences.
As early as 20 years ago knowledgeable industry observers were recommending new approaches to how organizations (specifically in the insurance and financial services sectors) managed their customer communication process. This was just prior to the proliferation of the internet when print was still the dominant delivery channel.
Even then it was obvious to most observers that there was an empty void among business units as well as among the various personnel involved in producing customer-oriented communications. In many cases the constituencies never met nor were organized as a team with a common goal. It seemed no one was in the driver`s seat.
The result of this realization was the birth of the concept of the Document Czar, someone with broad, cross-disciplinary and cross-business unit authority tasked with getting everyone involved in customer communications on the same page (pun intended). Yet only a few organizations successfully moved in this direction, leaving the quality and consistent customer communication challenge largely unresolved.
The advent of digital customer communications has put a priority on getting organized at an enterprise level. Unless everyone who has some stake in digital and printed documents and forms is involved in the process, including data, design, language, regulatory compliance, etc., it won`t be a surprise that the results are less than desired or necessary.
Document Specialist and the Chief Customer Experience Officer
While Document Czar is now a term equated with the past, there is a new commitment to deliver the ideal customer experience, prompting more insurers to appoint a chief customer experience officer (CCEO) or some equivalent.
Taking into consideration the entire spectrum of customer engagement channels, not just the digital ones, will be critical to their success and that of the enterprise. Document specialists, given their knowledge of document design, document usage, and the printing process, should be part of the CCEO`s team and no longer strewn throughout the organization with the attendant limitations forced by ‘silo-ization`.
Until an insurer eliminates print (which I argue will not be any time soon), document specialists will play a key role in any successful customer communication strategy. In instances where insurers outsource their print operations, the service provider should act as an extension of the customer communication team. Document specialists, both at the carrier and at the service provider, should engage with one another to ensure a seamless and effective policyholder engagement process. To be truly successful the CCEO must have complete insight into the process.
A properly implemented enterprise-wide policyholder engagement and communication strategy that considers the strengths and value of document specialists and extends to service providers will go a long way to helping insurance companies achieve the long-term customer relationships they strive for.