Multi-Channel Contact Centers in Insurance: The Email Imperative

May 16, 2003

Abstract

New York, NY, USA May 16, 2003

Celent projects that by 2007, 16% of all contacts to insurance contact centers will be via email. Celent urges insurers to embrace multi-channel contact management systems and to apply "call center" discipline and practices to email.

As insurers shift their strategic focus from the product to the customer, the contact center has assumed a new level of importance. For most carriers, the contact center is their primary public face to both agents and customers. Celent estimates that US insurers spend a total of US$3.6 billion annually on maintaining and staffing contact centers. Tracking customer interactions and presenting unified "relationship views" of the customer are high on most IT priority lists.

While online self-service is a key competitive offering, especially on the agent side, insurers need to learn about and plan for another communications trend: the growing use of email as a preferred communication method. As supporting this channel becomes a necessity, insurer call centers must become true multi-channel contact centers.

"Unlike online self-service, there are not significant cost savings involved in supporting email,"

says Matthew Josefowicz, author of the report and manager of Celent痴 insurance group. "But insurers are being forced to support email by customer demand. Within a few years, poor email service will be as unacceptable as poor phone service is today. This means devoting the same level of management discipline and technology infrastructure to the email channel as is currently devoted to the phone."

This report provides an overview of the role of multi-channel contact centers in the US insurance industry. It examines the role that contact centers are playing (including new areas like tele-underwriting), the increasing importance of email, the still dormant role of instant messaging, and the need for unified contact management systems to support true multi-channel contact centers.

A is available online.

of Celent Communications' Life/Health Insurance and Property/Casualty Insurance research services can download the report electronically by clicking on the icon to the left.  Non-members should contact info@celent.com for more information.

        

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Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

Media Contacts

North America
Michele Pace
mpace@celent.com
Tel: +1 212 345 1366

Europe (London)
Chris Williams
cwilliams@celent.com
Tel: +44 (0)782 448 3336

Asia (Tokyo)
Yumi Nagaoka
ynagaoka@celent.com
Tel.: +81 3 3500 3023

Table of Contents

 

New York, NY, USA May 16, 2003

Return to report Abstract

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3
INTRODUCTION 5
THE CURRENT STATE OF INSURANCE CONTACT CENTERS 5
  Strategic Role  5
  Spending 6
  Primary Functions 7
  New Area: Tele-Underwriting 9
THE GROWING IMPORTANCE OF EMAIL 11
  Projected Growth in Email Volume 12
  Cost Differentials 12
  Current Quality of Service 13
  Email Best Practice: Call Center Discipline 14
  Other Best Practices 14
INSTANT MESSAGING: NOT IMPORTANT YET 16
  Potential Use of IM Within Contact Center? 16
THE NEED FOR UNIFIED SYSTEMS 17
  Knowledge Management 17
  Cost Containment 17
  Why "CRM" is a Four-Letter Word 18
  Projections for Growth 19
CONCLUDING POINTS 20

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