Nationwide creates electronic team members that equip an individual customer serving affiliate with a team of robots to perform all the normal work in a very fast way.
Nationally, the insurance and financial services company in Columbus, Ohio, wants customers to know that when chips fail, they’ll be there with a delicate blend of empathy and logistical ingenuity backed by “electronic” technology.
In an insurance market filled with highly clever advertisements, creepy mascots, and promises of lower costs, Nationwide is instead betting that its end-user customers (Nationwide calls them “members”) will join in and remain loyal to a company that tries to live by the time-honoured mantra of exceeding customer expectations.
Across its 11 divisions, which include whole life, fire, auto, and investments, as well as a wide range of business services, the company wraps around the shared vision that “exceptional care is our North Star,” said Amy Shore, Head of Customer Division. company, during an interview.
The insurance company is betting that providing its customer service partners with intelligent cloud-based information technology will help them follow Northstar.
“We want to digitize the ordinary so we can personalize the extraordinary,” said Jim Fowler, CIO of Nationwide, adding that the technology imbued insurance company partners with “electronic superpowers.”
To illustrate this point, Fowler outlined the steps that both people and technology take when a customer calls to report a disaster such as a house fire. The call will be automatically routed to the customer service agent, who will reassure the customer that everything will be taken care of. In the background, automated processes that interact with third parties book a hotel room, arrange to rent a car within two hours, and deposit $1,000 into a customer’s bank account for emergency expenses like food and other necessities.
In part to accomplish exactly this type of scenario, Nationwide has developed a technology hub for customers and third parties. This year, it will treat more than 10 Billion Fowler said the number of deals was 50,000 two years ago when it was launched.
“It’s the nerve center of how our organs and mediators communicate in our systems,” Fowler said during an interview. “It’s really based on this idea, ‘I’m going to meet my customers wherever they are, and I’m going to let them do business either from a purchase or service perspective the way they want to do business. “
He continued, “We know that no single company is going to be able to provide all of these products, so this technology hub is the glue that will bind all these different components together.”
Many companies may see this type of automation as a way to cut costs by reducing the number of call center reps. Not at the national level. “We actually think that all of these have become automated tools to make colleagues more powerful in the conversation, to be an empathetic ear on the other side, to be able to apply some judgment in matters that are not normal situations that we have to deal with,” he says. “These tools allow the clerical part of their jobs to be carried out by a whole group of AI robots working on their behalf.”
Or, as Shore, Chief Customer Officer put it, “It helps our partners to be highly available and extremely reliable…technology is an integral part of everything we do and to improve the customer experience.”
Three basic technical principles
A few years ago, Nationwide identified three technology principles it needed to support its vision for the North Star. The first is that they need to have their systems open to ensure seamless interaction with partner systems.
Second, it needed to automate as many clerical processes humans handle as possible to improve speed and accuracy. This platform should be smart in terms of design. “We needed it to learn as it is, and we needed it to be able to start making decisions and predicting things faster,” Fowler said.
Third, the platform must be adaptable to whatever channel its customers require. “We could not force them to go any particular route,” he said.
Natively adopted Oracle’s cloud-based customer experience and policy management applications. “Their entire product suite came together in a way that was just a final match on how we think about the strategy of what we’re going for,” Fowler said.
Once the senior management team at Nationwide defined the overall strategy, it was up to each department to adapt the cloud platform to their own lines of business.
Fowler’s team has implemented standard scoring systems for the operations team, as well as a knowledge management system It is used by the Shared Services team via LOB. With a knowledge management system, all customer-facing partners are armed with everything they need to know about each member, and they even make suggestions as to what they have to say. Automated actions begin when conditions require it.
“It comes down to this: ‘How do I digitize the ordinary and humanize the extraordinary?'” Fowler said. “We want Natural Language Processing to be able to pick up, text, or email anything a caller is calling about and automatically provide contextual knowledge to the customer representative.”
“Now you have that drive available to our business units to deliver new products, services and experiences to their customers. So what we’re going for is from a top-down approach to an approach led by individual business units.” Fowler said.
For the auto insurance business in Nationwide, for example, that could mean creating a claims system that eliminates all manual intervention. For life insurance, artificial intelligence may be used to replace blood tests to help determine life expectancy.
According to Fowler, 50% of all auto insurance cases are now handled by intelligent bots, which are used for repair cost estimates, setting payments, and directing rental cars to the customer. This means that colleagues “do not do the writing side of the job; they do the direction of the job and the empathic side of the job.”
Empathy is what sets everything apart
Fowler said Nationwide sees the combination of automation and hyper-customization as the core of its competitive advantage.
“Using all the streaming data that we have, and linked to operations through our ecosystem, allows us to create these truly individual experiences for customers,” he said. “The second part is the ability to create electronic team members, where the individual colleague serving the customer has a team of bots that do all the normal work in a very fast way. This way, our partners can create the best possible experience for members when they need to interact with us.”
“We want it to be simple and convenient to do normal things like renewing the policy so agents can focus on empathy,” said Shore, chief customer officer at Nationwide. Promote empathy for electronic technology.