COVID-19 accelerates brokers' evolution

Digital payments are now an integral part of the customer experience

COVID-19 accelerates brokers' evolution

Insurance News

By Kasi Johnston

Proving their value is more important for brokers than ever before and a key part of that puzzle is creating a positive customer experience. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, servicing clients seamlessly online became mandatory to survival and implementing hands-free technology became a differentiator in the space.

According to The Growth Engine: Superior Customer Experience in Insurance by McKinsey & Company, “delivering a superior customer experience takes more than developing a mobile app or adding call centre staff. It requires significant investments, relentless improvements and collaboration across customer channels and business functions, from distribution and underwriting to claims handling.”

With more than 80% of shoppers using a digital channel at least once through their shopping journey, carriers can find new ways to engage customers efficiently and effectively to raise satisfaction. One part of the customer’s online journey that is often forgotten but remains a vital part of the experience is the payment process.

“When you look at tech giants like Amazon and Uber, their payment processes are so seamless,” said Stuart Bruce, CEO of FIRST Insurance Funding of Canada. “Typically, customers aren’t comparing satisfaction from broker to broker, they are comparing it with other parts of their lives.”

Going digital
COVID-19 has forced the payment conversation to the C-suites of brokerages, added Bruce, since clients coming to a branch with a cheque simply doesn’t cut it anymore. The pandemic has highlighted the need for easy-to-use online payment options for insureds.

Automating the payment process can not only improve the customer experience, but it can also make it easier for brokers to streamline workflows. Insurance is unlike typical retail products, so finding the right partner that is an expert in the insurance space where methods of payments can vary, is huge. Bruce says FIRST Canada is focused on making sure the insurance payment process is as seamless and integrated as possible, while not being a huge expense for the broker.

“A consistent integrated approach is what brokers have been asking for and we’ve made significant headway with our custom Payment Options Form in terms of integration with all the broker management systems,” he said.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic especially, brokers have been fielding questions from insureds about risk management and market conditions, while tasked with finding the right solutions for each unique circumstance. Bruce says the last thing that brokers should have to worry about is having to

follow up with clients on payments. FIRST Canada’s customizable payment form allows brokers to reinforce their brand, bring clients clarity on payment options, and it reduces receivables, making the entire cycle more efficient.

“Figuring out how to pay the broker can be difficult at times when it should just be click and pay,” Bruce said. “We are of the philosophy that getting paid shouldn’t be hard. The ease-of-use also ensures customer touch points are always positive.”

Integration with the broker management system, as well as the billing and invoicing system are also critical to a customer’s experience. This might include the ability to sign electronically if needed and to go completely paperless from quoting to payment. Automation allows for smooth monthly payments, credit card transactions and e-transfers, making it a straightforward process for both broker and insured.

Planning for post-pandemic
Automated payments and contactless technology will continue to be imperative features in the insurance industry. Brokers will be looking for secure payment solutions, reliable partners they can trust, and continued innovation. FIRST Canada has plans in place to add Interac payments to its payment solutions system, making it the first Interac solution for insurance in the country.

“We will continue to be on the forefront of innovative payment solutions,” Bruce said. “As a leader in the space, we are not ones to sit on our laurels.”

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