BUSINESS CONTINUITY / DISASTER RECOVERY
In addition to these market changes , we are also seeing Americans return to traveling , leading to increasing accident and insurance claims .
These challenges are likely to persist , which could set up another challenging year for insurance companies in 2023 .
... LIKE A TROPICAL STORM GROWING INTO A HURRICANE , THE CONDITIONS ARE JUST RIGHT FOR THIS STORM TO WREAK HAVOC ON THE CLAIMS INDUSTRY .
CALL CENTERS UNDER WATER ALREADY
Listening to my friends across the industry , I am hearing comments like this :
“ Our phones are ringing off-the-hook with new claim reports , and our hold times are increasing .”
“ Customers are calling non-stop to get claim status updates due to repair delays .”
“ My best employees are working around the clock , racking up tons of expensive overtime hours under a mountain of stress .”
Unfortunately , natural disasters do not slow down amid these hardships , and we are on the cusp of another tornado season – tornadoes have already struck many communities this spring-- followed by the hurricane season in the summer . Both are devastating weather events that wreak havoc on multiple communities , causing millions if not billions of dollars in damages .
NAVIGATING STORM IMPACT
The cumulative impact of this storm and industry disruption will , at some point , trickle down to your customers while they are going through a terrible period in their lives .
Some might be losing their homes for the first time while others may be frustrated to go through this ordeal again if they live in flood-prone or high-risk areas . All of them will be looking to their insurance company for compassion and help to navigate this tumultuous time .
The pressure is on for leaders to keep hold times short and keep employees engaged . These are critical challenges if you want to retain top talent in the industry and provide customers with great service at the insurance moment of truth .
All is not hopeless , however . There are solutions available right now that can help get your claim centers — and indeed , for other critical centers like for healthcare , communications , transportation , and utilities-- to higher ground and through this storm .
HOW TO WEATHER-PROOF YOUR CALL CENTER
Plan ahead . You would for your home , it ’ s important to make sure your call center has a plan in place to deal with disruptions as they arise during a natural disaster . In addition to the normal preparations , like having generators onsite to provide power in the event of an outage ( like for your sump pump to protect your furnace and water heater ), do you have extra capacity at the ready ?
You might like to equip at least some employees to work remotely in the event the call center closes . Having backup call centers within your organization , or as provided by third parties , can keep your customers just a call away from fast claims service .
Disasters impact communities and homes in different and unexpected ways . When Hurricane / Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey , much damage occurred inland , away from the ocean , from the flooding of inlets and lakes during the storm surge .
Account for all employees . According to SQM Group , before the COVID-19 pandemic , in 2019 , only 20 % of call center agents worked from home ( WFH ); however , after the pandemic , in 2020 , that number skyrocketed to 82 % and continues to grow .
For this reason , contact centers must also account for all WFH employees in the aforementioned plan . Evaluating the needs of these employees in case of a natural disaster and making sure your plan includes emergency equipment in case of power outage and processes to protect sensitive data in case of a weakened network is essential .
Proactivity is the key , so ensuring employees are equipped with handouts and training ahead of time will help your call center run as smoothly as possible this disaster season .
Beyond prepping employees for natural disasters , contact centers should also make sure their employees and any business equipment are insured .
In some cases , professional business property is covered to some extent under the employee ' s homeowners insurance ; however , you should not rely on that . Instead , look into what your business liability insurance covers when it comes to remote workers .
YOU MIGHT LIKE TO EQUIP AT LEAST SOME EMPLOYEES TO WORK REMOTELY IN THE EVENT THE CALL CENTER CLOSES .
Involve technology . Before an anticipated weather event , make sure your team is ready to continue providing customer service in this fraught situation .
Different disasters require different approaches . Technology can also help . Consider equipping your call center with the technology to collect damage photos directly from customers during loss report calls , during which artificial intelligence ( AI ) can provide an initial damage assessment in a couple of minutes .
This solution can help take a load off your staff , freeing up bandwidth to help elsewhere — it is a scarce commodity when events happen and must be prioritized for emergency response and recovery--and increasing productivity .
Some tech solutions can also identify total loss vehicles from a few simple customer photos . With technology and the proper training , you can turn your staff into “ Bionic Adjusters ” or adjusters leveraging technology to expedite claim settlements quickly and accurately .
MAY 2023 29