Michael Weinreich believes that, to improve customer service, automation has the potential to create the best possible customer experience.

Nowadays, you find many articles about automation and how robotics will take over services, and in the end replace the workforce, reducing cost base and freeing up resources for more successful critical processes. We have already experienced significant reductions in insurance claims management from reducing average handling time by 50% up to increasing the speed of the final settlement from several days to just hours. Application management has gained up to 60% in performance gain. Other sectors such as compliance, accounting and HR have achieved similar results, thus increasing productivity seems to be an early win.

Justifying investments in automation is now for many a no-brainer, and no service provider can afford to not offer solutions for automation. This can only be the first step, however. At the end of the day, cost leadership in itself will not help winning new customers or enthusing existing customers to create viral mouth-to-mouth campaigns.

So how can we create enthusiastic customers? Automation and analytics provide a good foundation, and we’ve already seen up-selling opportunities. A great example is the telco industry, where customers who frequently exceed their mobile data volume are automatically offered a new data plan at the time when it’s needed, with a convenient and user-friendly way of accepting. The new opportunities will definitely create happy customers who experience that their need is recognised and a convenient solution is offered. But is it enough for getting enthusiastic?

Fighting to reinvent customer service

Enthusiasm, quite frequently, has an element of surprise. Imagine yourself going through a car accident and claiming compensation for the damage of your car. This is the moment of truth, where you have real life insight into the workings of the other party’s insurance company. While we know that claims management is supported by automation, what happens to the communication part of claims management? Some insurance companies already provide apps, websites and telephone services to report an accident, and the progressive companies already introduced alerting systems to notify involved parties once there is a status change in processing the claim. Even more opportunities exist.

How can you anticipate customer needs and react accordingly? One example might be to look at the duration of the process offering updates even without status change if process time exceeds critical limits. On top of that, you might identify points in the process where the damaged party is grateful for automatically generated additional support such as recommendations, checklists, special discounts and so on.

While we already see bots supporting consumers to keep track of spending behaviour and save surplus money (Abe, Chip, Cleo, Plum to name just a few), the banking sector still fights to reinvent customer service. Offshoring to cheaper locations such as India was popular five years ago, but it seems that this pure cost focus is currently under discussion, and the potential for automated, high-quality customer service are reevaluated in several leading retail banks in the UK and elsewhere.

Anticipating potential pain points and offering solutions without the need to ask for them has an element of surprise, and the potential to create extremely powerful customer experience and enthusiasm. Finally, this successful and customer-friendly claim settlement is an ideal starting point for selling new policies or asking for lead recommendation with family and friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating intensive, proactive customer care that creates a definite uplift in costs and just a potential increase in customer acquisition and retention. Using the potential of automation not just to save costs but also to efficiently create the best possible customer experience will unleash its true value. So finally, you can have your cake of automation and eat it too.

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Main image: optimarc, Shutterstock.com

About the author

Michael Weinreich

Michael Weinreich is CEO and president of Transcom, based in Sweden. He was previously a venture partner at FinLeap, a Berlin-based company builder specialised in fintech. Prior to this, Michael chaired Arvato Financial Solutions and developed an international full service financial BPO Player credited "industry leader" by several leading rating agencies. He is also one of the founding members of Startupbootcamp fintech in London.

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