Tech vs Human Touch… vs??

Toby MacLachlan, 23 August 2021

Insurance Times published an article recently on whether brokers should focus on tech or human touch: https://www.insurancetimes.co.uk/insight/the-big-question-september-2021-how-can-the-insurance-industry-best-marry-technology-and-a-human-touch/1438455.article

It was their Big Question for September.

The majority of the respondents focus on how tech can enable better efficiency/automation/customer experience. This seems pretty self-evident these days – you’ll not find many people who don’t see the benefits of it.

The elephant in the room is really the cost of the tech. It’s quite simple to hire and train a new member of staff to deal with customers or manual processes. It’s a well-trodden path and the £20k-odd per year cost is a benign and known one. The cost of tech can be enormous.

The answer therefore to tech vs human touch is actually tech + human touch. Which again might seem self-evident. But in fact, the two are still largely viewed in opposition by brokers. I’ve had a number of brokers recently tell me that they are a ‘service’ broker not an automated ‘sausage factory’. They add value by ‘talking to the customer’ and directly ‘addressing their needs’. These lines are used as an apology for not investing in technology.

I’m too nice to say it to them in person, but they’re wrong. Brokers that want to offer quality service to their customers need to offer technological solutions (24/7 online self-service, short question sets, chatbots) because this is better customer service, and it drives down the cost of administering policies (and therefore the cost of the policies themselves).

Brokers should accept that there is an element of the unknown to insurance (and risk) and therefore a single engagement strategy simply won’t work. As long as customers are not forced down a single route (either online or call centre) then they will use the service that works for them. Two customers of a very similar demographic might have vastly different requirements (e.g. a complex MTA or none at all) and vastly different preferences for communicating (e.g. one might not like people and prefer a chatbot).

The best option for clients is lots of options, and that is what tech enables.

And as a final nod to the elephant: why not charge for these services according to cost? There’s no shame in it costing more to have a call centre with a well-trained operative than a £50/month chatbot. Customers will understand…

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