When we think of contact centers, we can no longer think of them through our traditional lens of a call center. Technology and the age of digital transformation have caused major disruptions in the traditional call center world.

Consumers are demanding to be met on their terms and via their preferred channels. The changing technology landscape has allowed consumers to take full advantage of how they choose to interact with businesses. With the onset of technology platforms from cloud communications to mobile phones, virtual agents, BOTS and social media, consumers are demanding a much more consistent, robust and rewarding experience from purchase through service.

So, what does this mean for the insurance contact center world?

For companies that choose not to embrace digital transformation, it can mean the loss of once loyal consumers and revenue streams. The key to survival in the world of digital transformation is to first understand the experience the customer desires and then having the ability to create a seamless experience regardless of channel.

"Thanks to technology, artificial technology and chat-bots, the contact centers of the insurance industry will never be the same"

Successful digital contact centers design the entire customer experience–from start to finish–creating a unified omni-channel experience. Insurance contact centers must do the same while figuring out how to do so in a complex, highly regulated world–while thinking outside of their traditionally risk adverse mindset.

Insurance companies must embrace digital transformation while also remembering the importance of human interaction. Their products and services have been designed to protect people during some of their most difficult times in life. Ensuring they keep a human-centric, digital-first approach is the key. Cloud computing is just one example that has allowed us to do so.

The cloud has allowed insurance contact centers to expand hours of operation in support of our customers’ needs while providing a holistic view of all customer interactions regardless of channel. It also allows for hiring of the right talent and balancing call volume needs through remote workers and micro-shifting – all while lowering overhead. This creates a win-win for employees, employers (customers) and consumers by opening the talent pipeline and creating jobs for those whose schedules and personal or family lives may not have originally afforded the opportunity to work.

Technology has also brought collaborative tools that allow teams to work together in a virtual environment. These tools run the gamut from Skype for business to dynamic, cloud-based CRMs to tools that allow associates to interact with customers through the use of co-browsing, chat and virtual agents.

But the cloud has done even more for traditional insurance companies. Whether a customer wants to connect or self-serve on the web, via email, text, chat, phone or social media as a company, we are able to understand their journey. That allows for everyone who touches the customer to know and understand their customers’ journey, both pain points and moments of joy, all connected in a complete 360 view of the customer. We have learned that the best digital experience is designed around the human experience, by understanding what the customer is feeling or desiring at any given moment.

Technology also affords insurers the opportunity to learn and understand more about customers through the use of artificial intelligence, data and analytics. It’s important to recognize that while a customer’s journey may begin in one channel it may move to a completely different channel. By embracing an omni-channel strategy, insurers are able to collect valuable insights and feedback from customers as they cross channels.

Technology has also allowed insurers to think differently about customer feedback and provides the ability to socially listen and develop more robust customer satisfaction measures. Through the use of predictive analytics, they are better able to understand what levers to pull from an experience perspective that will increase customer satisfaction, reduce customer effort and then correlate back to financial metrics such as retention and lifetime value of a customer.

For years insurers have worked to listen to and understand their consumers better. However, trying to make sense of it was difficult and time-consuming. Technology-driven data analytics has completely changed insurers’ ability to see the world through the eyes of our consumer.

Technology has created a host of opportunities for the insurance world. It has forced them to look at the world differently, learn how to manage risk differently, and, more importantly, how to create new and better experiences for their customers. Technology has allowed us to know customers as if they were their own family. More importantly, technology has raised the bar in the world of contact centers by shifting thinking. They are now not just competing with the insurance contact center experience, but also the experience of the likes of tech giants like Apple and Amazon. The world of insurance contact centers is changing thanks to technology and the age of digital transformation.