By Jamie Ludwig
Director, lending claims and operations, CUNA Mutual Group
A digital strategy needs to incorporate all aspects of the member experience. It’s critical that pain points be addressed throughout all interactions, as the weakest touch point is often the one most remembered. In the lending process, much time, attention and detail is devoted to the application process, while the critical post-sale claims support can often be overlooked.
Standard process – standard problems
The standard paper forms process is rife with inefficiencies. The member has to wait for claim forms to be sent, fill them out, send them back and wait for a response. If additional information is needed, the process starts all over again. For the credit union, staff needs to manually input information into the claims system.
The traditional phone system that prompts callers to elect standard items from a list (press 1, press 2, etc.) also has its own flaws. It relies on the member calling the correct phone number for their specific claim type and knowing exactly what they need. In most cases, these assumptions aren’t accurate since it’s likely the first time the member has had a claim. Additionally, the service center needs to follow standard steps to verify the caller’s identify and why they’re calling to best address their needs.
While online claim forms provide a 24/7 channel for members to provide their information, the back-end process continues to lag behind. Information still needs to be manually reviewed and decisioned, which can involve additional hand-offs and processing time.
No matter the scenario, the member is often left waiting and wondering the status of their claim, while dealing with whatever unfortunate situation caused it. This pain point has become even more critical as streamlined digital experiences have become common.
Empowering claims through technology
The next evolution in claims processing is being driven by API technology and artificial intelligence, or AI.
APIs, or applications programming interface, streamline the communication of information from one system to another. By enabling real-time access to data and information no matter the user or the channel, processing times are dramatically reduced. Most significantly, APIs enable claims to be filed automatically when the information is submitted, reducing effort and increasing the speed of decision.
While APIs increase the speed at which information is gathered and accessed, adding business rules and basic decisioning logic to online forms can streamline how that information is reviewed, decisioned and routed.
Serving a member on the phone in real time presents its own challenges that must be overcome to deliver a consistent experience. AI’s adaptive learning ability has tremendous implications for credit unions when incorporated into a virtual phone assistant.
With APIs providing instant access to claims data, the system can automatically identify the caller and begin asking questions designed to determine claim specifics. Based on the caller’s responses, AI can identify simple claims and decision them immediately. For those that are more complex or need additional review, AI automatically routes the caller to staff equipped to manage the claim.
The benefits of such digital capabilities are widespread: a consistent and improved member experience across all channels, including phone and web available 24/7 and faster decisioning. Since implementing API and AI technology for credit insurance and debt protections claims, CUNA Mutual Group has experienced:
- reduced average overall cycle time from 38 days with the paper-based process to six days for web-filed claims;
- 44% of claim decisions made same day, once all information is received; and
- 93% of members indicating high satisfaction with the claims experience.
The last piece of the puzzle is keeping your members informed of their claim status. Instead of forcing them to contact you for updates, a digital first strategy includes proactively communicating with members about their claim status. Interest is high – CUNA Mutual Group has seen more than 91% of claimants opt in to receiving text/email notifications.
Digitizing your claims process delivers a number of benefits for your members: Simplified filing, consistency across channels, faster decisioning and proactive communications. For your credit union, inefficiencies are reduced, staff is freed to focus on tasks of most importance, and member service is enhanced. Ultimately, applying a digital first strategy to claims can help it become a proof point of the value you offer, helping to grow your business and expand your membership.
To learn more about resources available to support both credit unions and members, visit the Stronger Future Together page at www.cunamutual.com.