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Three Ways to Get The Most out of Data Analytics

By Stephen Ebbett, Chief Digital Officer, Assurant

Stephen Ebbett, Chief Digital Officer, Assurant

Big data is on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days and for good reason. The eruption of available customer data over the past several years has been massive.  Yet there isn’t a “one size fits all” blueprint for accessing, structuring and utilizing the data in a cost-effective way that improves customer service and accurately measures the value of potentially significant returns. 

Assurant’s position of supporting the customers of some of the best consumer brands in the world with a variety of lifestyle-oriented, specialty products and services has given us a unique perspective. As such, we have aligned our vast data analytics capabilities around three initiatives that have a positive impact on our clients and our own business: improving the customer experience, operational excellence and new product development.

Analytics for a Better Customer Experience

As a consumer-focused company, Assurant continually strives to improve the customer experience. These days we are challenging ourselves with innovation around identifying customer intent and proactively serving up virtual engagement technologies across multiple channels – web, phone and apps.

"Enabling customers to identify and solve issues on their own reduces costs associated with service and support for our clients, while fostering loyalty through user satisfaction"

A prime example is virtual agents, where we’re leveraging the tremendous amounts of internal and external data available to us, as well as machine learning and natural language processing disciplines, to help us intelligently predict why a customer wants to engage.

We continue to pilot this approach within our lifestyle-related business with a focus around sales, claims and status.  And we’re watching key customer experience metrics like the net promoter score to gauge our success and calibrate post pilot roll outs.

We’re also applying our pilot learning to other Assurant businesses. We can delight our customers with a proactive virtual agent experience within our housing lines by combining customer intent, existing CRM history and recent claims data. 

For example, leveraging a combination of recent weather events coupled with location data from the CRM helps our virtual agent react in context to a customer’s unique situation. We can then escalate a customer calling from a location with a recent hurricane event to a live conversation immediately, whereas a customer with a recent claim may encounter a virtual agent who immediately reads out the claim status.

By integrating this approach across all customer-facing channels globally, we can engage with the customer on their terms, providing a better experience.

Analytics for Operational Excellence

In addition to improving the customer experience, we are utilizing data analytics to enhance operational performance. For example, we are pairing virtual agent technology with learning-oriented analytics to predict why a customer calls or visits a service or sales-oriented website.

Let’s say you accidently drop your smartphone in the pool and need to make a claim. You can’t remember where to go to file claim so you Google it, and the search points you to an Assurant website.  Leveraging data analytics, we can meet you via a virtual agent and immediately guide you to the appropriate claim portal.

This approach can reduce the time and cost to deliver service-oriented tasks to customers, such as providing claims status or initiating a claim. These savings can translate into faster resolution for our customers, lower prices, and higher margins.

Analytics for New Product Development

A third critical area where data analytics can play a sizable impact is new product development. At Assurant, we constantly challenge ourselves to utilize data to find innovative ways to protect and support connected devices, even to the point of helping customers before claim events.

That’s what led us to develop Pocket Geek, an on-device diagnostics and support app that delivers a better customer experience, increase revenue and higher brand loyalty. By leveraging the data from processing more than 1 trillion mobile device diagnostic metrics daily, Pocket Geek provides proactive diagnostic alerts and intuitive self-help wizards to fix common mobile device problems without users ever having to call for help.

This includes device deterioration warnings to alert users to battery degradation, memory capacity limits, any why their mobile device is performing differently from standards based on aggregate data. Enabling customers to identify and solve issues on their own reduces costs associated with service and support for our clients, while fostering loyalty through user satisfaction.  Most importantly, our consumers achieve resolution fast.

There are many other ways insurers can utilize analytics to realize the value within the reams of data available to them. Fraud detection, risk mitigation and predictive modeling of policyholder behavior are a couple of areas, just to name a few.

If you’re not sure where to focus your resources, start with those areas central to your customers. You’ll find the benefits will extend to other areas of our business.

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